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The Main Event 3 was held on Sunday 27th September in Birmingham and was the first UK V-Drums event for over five years. The Main Event philosophy is simple: show how electronic drums are being increasingly used in all aspects of the percussion scene. A diverse, but incredibly talented roster of drummers appears on each bill, each one hand-picked for their ability to combine amazing technique with open-mindedness and the desire to experiment.
Previous Main Event shows have been graced by Omar Hakim, Thomas Lang, Greg Bissonette, Jason Bowld, Steve Washington and Geoff Dugmore and with a new flagship V-Drums kit just arriving in the UK, the stage was set for a great day. The 2009 bill featured Steve White, Johnny Rabb and Craig Blundell: a trio of completely contrasting players, but all now firmly involved in the world of V-Drums.
The event was hosted by the actor and comedian John Thomson, a keen drummer of considerable ability and a happy TD-20K owner. John took time out from his hectic schedule to present the show, and kicked off proceedings by explaining what got him into drumming. A few minutes later, the show was officially underway as Steve White took to the stage.
Best known for holding the drum stool for Paul Weller, Steve White has also played in The Style Council, The Who, Oasis, The Players, and is currently on the road with Trio Valore. A firm-favourite in the UK drumming scene, Whitey’s tireless passion and enthusiasm for drumming made his Roland debut a corker. Despite only having the new V-Drums TD-20KX for four weeks before the show, Steve dived headlong into a medley of tracks triggered by his faithful SPD-S Sampling Pad. Straddling everything from Weller, to New Order via the Stone Roses, Steve’s set was a masterclass in groove and feel, from a man recently voted as being one of the top 50 drummers of all time (35th to be precise – with many years still ahead of him!).
Steve was also joined on stage by Damon Minchella, band-mate from Trio Valore, who played bass for a few numbers, showcasing the nuance and subtlety of the new kit in a live stage setting.
Next up, and flying the flag for the Americans, was Johnny Rabb. Although no stranger to the UK – having appeared at Drumfest and many acoustic clinics with DW – many people aren’t aware of Johnny’s broad CV.
Johnny has covered a lot of ground in his drumming career, performing with a wide range of artists such as Maynard Ferguson, Alain Caron, Frank Gambale, Larry Tagg, Tanya Tucker, UK drum and bass head-honcho DJ Hype, Hank Williams III, SheDaisy, Deana Carter and Mindy McCready. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Johnny currently plays drums in BioDiesel, and is the author of several acclaimed books and CDs.
Johnny was also voted Best Educational Author in the influential Modern Drummer Readers Poll, for his book Jungle Drum and Bass for the Acoustic Drum Set and has worked with Roland for some time and continues to develop new sounds and innovations for his unique take drumming.
Johnny’s clean and precise playing made his set a pleasure to witness. Mixing up some classic playalong moments (Raul Midon’s State of Mind) with some prototype drum and bass, Johnny also showcased the power of the new TD-20X module by venturing into ring-modulated mayhem and demonstrating the kits abilities to dramatically re-pitch a drum sound.
Last up was rising star Craig Blundell. One of the UK’s busiest players, Craig is also one of Roland’s foremost clinicians and the frequent subject of countless YouTube video demos. His clinic style and performances have received rave reviews all over the globe and have put him ‘out there’ with some of the best clinicians, educators and session drummers in the world.
Craig opened his set with a blistering King Crimson track, before jumping off his kit with characteristic enthusiasm, and showing off the HandSonic HPD-15. This hand percussion pad uses the same triggering technology found in V-Drums, and enables the player to lose themselves in a world of percussion instruments from all over the world. Craig than moved on to the SPD-S (sampling a member of the audience en route), showing how easy it is to construct a track “on the fly” using a LoopStation, HandSonic and ME-70 guitar effects pedal. Technology section over, Craig jumped back behind his TD-20KX and launched into a ferocious set of drum and bass.
The panel then relocated to some slightly more comfortable seating for the question and answer session. Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason joined the group at this point with some fascinating anecdotes about life in one of the world’s most influential bands. As well as a super-rare fleet of vintage Ferraris and a helicopter, Nick also owns a TD-20K and explained how he uses it to stop getting rusty in between the racing and flying. Steve, Johnny and Craig all took turns to answer questions from the audience, ranging from how to stay focused to getting nervous on before going on stage. Q&A done, the show was brought to a thunderous close with Steve, Johnny and Craig playing together – totally unrehearsed or unscripted – for ten minutes.
The Main Event will return next year – stay up to date by ensuring you keep reading the monthly e-shot.