When I left The Ranch on Friday, I went straight to Lab Kifisia for lessons. The next day I had morning lessons at Lab Pireaus and then I spent time with my kids. The next day I woke up with a swollen throat and feeling sick. So I tried to sleep, but had to interrupt because we had to got to the Students' live of Lab Kifisia. So there was no time to adapt from the Drum Camp to the rest of my every day schedule. But why did I have the need to adapt? Was Drum Camp so different from my every day schedule? I was teaching, playing music, practicing and jamming. Not so different from the other days. Yes, but why do I feel that I took part into something different, amazing and great?
Well it’s not the activities alone that make an event special. It’s not music alone, education, practice nor knowledge. It’s the people who take place in the procedures. The importance of interacting with interesting and good people in a perfectly balanced environment makes an event to feel like an experience.
I have stories to tell. I’ll try to share the feeling we all had in common at The Ranch during the Drum Camp.
- When Fay and I arrived I saw Nick Anastasiadis at a parking space, under some beautiful trees, testing a cymbal, while sitting at his trunk of his car with another guy eating a banana. I thought “Yeap! This is the right place.”
- I got to play with my band mates from Funky Lab every night and jam with the rest of the drummers. Iordanis and Fay on vocals, Katerina on keys, Thanos on guitar and Marios on drums are my favorite people. Hard working musicians with smiles and good souls. So sound check felt natural and cool.
- While we were rehearsing at the Saloon I began thinking that this place has its own history and something like holograms of the drummers, that has played there appeared in my eyes (like in the movies). Gergo Borlai, Anika Nilles, Keith Carlock, Stanton Moore, Virgil Donati, Ralf Gottlieb, George Kollias, Derek Roddy. This place is soaked by rhythm, music, training and knowledge. It’s not only a Saloon it’s a Sanctuary!
- Having this feeling of taking part in a specific musical history, we went for lunch. Well you know you cannot have a good time without good food! And a lot of food. The struggle there was to restrain yourself from eating all the food from the buffet. This was for breakfast, lunch and dinner too.
- First hug was with Derek Roddy. What a great guy! You can have the time of your life with that guy. I remember some specific things with Derek, from the previous Drum Camp:
1) during the jam sessions I took a break, so I went outside at the balcony of the Saloon. At some point I listened to an amazing shuffle groove, something like Toto’s Rosanna. And I was like: “Who’s playing?” I went inside and I saw Derek, THE metal guy, playing an amazing triplet feel groove.
2) We laughed so hard with jokes and funny pictures from facebook I still remember holding my stomach and Derek wiping the tears from his eyes.
3) The conversations. You can have fun and music but also inspiring conversations with Derek!
So the question was that: Could this happen this year also?
- Next hug was this George Kollias. What can I say for George? He is also THE metal guy but, man, he can play whatever he wants. I remember after the first Drum Camp calling me and discussing the probability of having a project together. Well few months later we formed a power trio and started writing music together with Yiannis Papadopoulos on guitar. George is always the guy that can make you feel relaxed and happy when he is around. You know he has this aura that tells you that something nice is going to happen. So I was with my band mate George at the fourth Drum Camp!
- In Greece everyone knows Michael Kapilidis. Everybody in this family is a great musician! I've played a lot with his father Nick. We have toured together and I have deep love and respect for him. So, even though I haven't played much with Michael, I was very happy and eager to share more musical moments with him. First we got to practice some odd time grooves and he showed me some very interesting stuff. So, lucky me, I got my free lessons too! And then we jammed with the band at the Saloon. Oh man this guy is a General! He strategically places the right grooves, fills and kicks at the precise moment the music needs it and the result is… magic!
- Another highlight was jamming with Mike Johnston. What a kind smile! He is one of the best professional teachers out there. But also an amazing player. He didn’t know the song we were about to play, so he came up to the stage, Marios sang him the groove and there he was ready in a split of a second, like he has already rehearsed the song with the band! He also took some amazing pictures and videos. At one point he was filming and after 30 minutes you had a perfect video uploaded on instagram like he was preparing it for 3 hours. This guy is fast, to the point and so organized!
- This year I was also very lucky to share lessons and jams with Thodoris Kotsifas. Thodoris is an amazing guitar player. He is mostly into jazz but he is so open-minded and thirsty for experiences and knowledge where he can sit on every musical occasion. With Thodoris we also share another passion about martial arts. So if you have a good look at the group picture of the Drum Camp 2019, you will notice that there are two guys missing. Well, we were doing some shadow boxing on the football field and running around The Ranch enjoying some good exercise the fresh air and the nature. All this, during the photo shoot! We missed that but we had a great time. And then during the jams. Well his combing, his solos and sound where making me and everyone in the Saloon truly happy.
- One of the best times was when Chris Coleman came to jam with the band. I will try to put it as humbly as I can. The man is and idol. A true example! His playing is outstanding but his attitude is the most important thing. Because when he played with us he actually shared and participated, no egos there, just making something together. The other day I went to watch his class. He is the most inspiring teacher I have ever seen. So funny and organized and patient. Most of the days he skipped lunch because he was answering questions and kept on showing stuff to the students and he always talked to everyone, smiling and willing to share everything. He is also an amazing bass player. One of the best times at the jam was when Michael Kapilidis played guitar and Chris Coleman bass!
- Now you have to understand that we had 3 or 4 lessons every day and a jam session every night. So many things happened and every night was full of surprises. I think that one of the most interesting jams was with Michael Kapilidis and Derek Roddy on drums. Thodoris was on guitar and I played the bass. Derek started a shuffle groove taken from the song “Everybody wants to rule the world” by Tears for Fears. I started playing the chords from the verse and then Thodoris came in with some amazing voicings. When the groove and the chords were locked Thodoris told me lets go to “B flat”. Oh! this change was very emotional. So we had the basic from and we started soloing and playing and changing into B flat and it was awesome. During the entire jam Chris Coleman was sitting by and watching and participating through smiles and good vibes and shouting! What a guy!
- Chris also forced Vassilis Metalinos to come on stage and jam with us. And it was awesome. I think it was the first time that I played with Vassilis. I remember that we laughed our hearts out cause when we finished the song, the left tom fell down along with the banners behind the drum kit. It was like an explosion! Immediately a joke came into my head. “He can groove like a boss! Wait! He IS the Boss”!
- So many great moments at the jam session. A seven year old came on stage with his father. They drove like 5 hours just so that the kid can have a chance to play with his idol, Chris Coleman. And he did. Chris and the seven year old bass player jammed over Chameleon and everyone where so moved by this special moment. Cuteness overdose!
- The students! I really can hang out with every one of them. It is amazing when the environment is the right one, everyone can connect with the other without giving it a try. It felt natural to talk and drink and play together and applause each and every one who jammed. How is that possible? It was like having everyone’s feelings, anticipations and thoughts aligned into a one direction resolving at one assumption: This Drum Camp will be under our skins, like a tattoo, forever!
- The feeling was great, so most of us who have experienced it in the past, remembered the other amazing guys who had participated with: Kal Drako (who visited and jammed this year too), Kostas Milonas, Alex Ktistakis. So at one point I got a picture with Chris Coleman and sent it to Gergo Borlai saying that we miss him, he answered: “I wish I was there but I will see you in Athens on September”. And then Nick, Vassilis, Hercules and Marios had a video call with Stanton Moore! So the history of the place was all alive in our minds and hearts. And we could not forget the past moments with the other great players!
- On the last day there were lessons in the morning, that everyone came late due to the late jam session. I think everyone was drinking and playing till late and didn't go to sleep before 4:00 in the morning! After the lessons there was a trip to the beach. I was very tired and feeling sleepy, so when we got there I sat on a very comfortable chair. I thought I was going to fall asleep but then I realized that the view was amazing. The sea, the cooling shadow under the tree. The company around as. Mike with his wife, Chris, George, Derek, Michael with his son and wife, talking and sharing stories with the rest of team. 45 students from 15 countries acing like best friends. Having a great time playing volley ball, swimming, drinking cold beer, taking pictures and videos. I couldn’t sleep. I was watching thinking what a peaceful image that is. Well the Italians where as always loud (loved every one of them) but the picture was perfect.
- Later that night we had a barbeque at the Ranch. Good food, with good company and good wine! I sat there and enjoyed the dinner with the amazing company of Tom from New York, Antonio from Italy, Marco from Switzerland, Yiannis from Volos, and Laurent from France. We talked about music, from Berlioz to Iron Maiden and it all came to me. It’s not only about the music. I mean music is the base, the reason to have all this at once, but it's all about the people. If the saying is correct: “Music unites people”, then Drum Camp 2019 is the proof!
So when something like this happens again, I strongly recommend to everyone from all around the world to come and be a part of this amazing story. Also never forget that this experience is alive because a man had a vision, he shared it with his team, and it became real. It’s all about hard working people who love music and education that work together as a team! No one gets the credit. It’s not an one man show. Everyone is doing their part with love and passion. Nick Anastasiadis, Hercules Loukakis, Marios Ioannou, Kamil Kamieniecki, Spyros Katsiambas, George Metalinos and of course Vassilis Metalinos (I am sorry if a forget someone).
It’s the people, people. The people!