The 4th Jobeky UK Custom Drum Festival
The 4th Jobeky UK Custom Drum Festival - Stafford Showground 6th May 2012
On a sunny Bank Holiday weekend morning in May, drummers descended from far and wide to attend the UK''s flagship custom drum show, arranged by Colin and Jane Ackroyd and their team at Jobeky Electronic Drums. For those who are unfamiliar with the festival, it is a very welcoming event that provides a chance for drummers to try out British built kits and accessories and meet the manufacturers. It included numerous clinics by inspiring drummers. This year an additional masterclass room was added and the show was compered by the infectiously enthusiastic Bobby Arechiga.
Recent financial conditions have meant a tough year for our indigenous custom drum makers, but it didn’t prevent them from creating a first class show. The festival was supported by many of the regular exhibitors and a few new faces. The state of the economy didn’t put off the punters either. It was so well attended that the organisers ran out of wrist bands. Luckily, the refreshments room had ample stocks of tea, coffee and bacon rolls.
Carl Haffield’s AD Drums, true to form, were as eye catching as ever. Carl is very enthusiastic about his work and his drum designs are lively, inventive and very popular. AD’s display featured wood and acrylic shelled drums as well as “Hybrid” combinations of both. One snare on display, which contained colour changing LEDs, was even provided with a remote control.
Chequerplate Drums and Percussion used the show to announce their new company name, formerly Chequerplate Stuff. Founder Steve Poensgen has combined forces with drummer Johnny Jenkins to form the new company. Chequerplate build snare drums of a variety of materials, LED drum kits and percussion items. A clear acrylic kit, with their trademark C-thru LED lugs, dominated their stand; which also featured a fascinating acrylic snare with a lightning fork pattern running through it.
Echo Custom Drums returned to the show for the second time. Though they are one of the newest names in the UK scene, the high quality of their metal shelled drums couldn’t fail to impress visitors. The Cheshire based company, which has just attracted Elbow’s Richard Jupp as an endorsee, produce snares and full kits from a wide variety of metals. All of their shells and much of their hardware is made in house and it is certainly a company to watch.
Gatton Drum Co, whose stand was arranged around Bobby Arechiga’s very large, and extremely loud, black and white kit, drew constant interest from drummers throughout the day. All of their drums are made from a synthetic material called Corian® and Gatton’s Craig Cockrell showed me some new additions to their range, including tubular toms and snare drums with double thickness 12mm shells.
Highwood had their usual top class snares and kits on show, which are now available in a range of exclusive British made wraps. The attention grabber was, however, their 1976 Beech Legacy kit. The Legacy drums incorporate beautifully made diagonally cross-laminated beech shells which were originally made in 1976 for the long-defunct Promuco Drums. Highwood acquired a large number of the shells following the recent and untimely death of Mercury Drums’ Clive Adams, who had been storing them in ideal conditions. The Legacy kits are being made in tribute to Clive and the display attracted a lot of interest throughout the day.
Though the company has been around for several years, Northampton based GRD were new exhibitors to the show. They showed some nicely finished wrapped kits, the most noticeable sporting a Union Jack design.
Jalapeno’s Dave Nuttall brought a selection of his thoughtfully conceived kits and snares.
His new Traditional Series drums, which are designed to emulate the sound of pre-WWII kits, sounded as good as they looked. They feature traditionally made shells and Tulip wood beading, giving them a vintage appearance too.
Jobeky Drums offered several of their electronic kits to try out. As usual, they saw plenty of use and drummers could be seen enjoying the variety of kits, modules and cymbals. There were a few raised eyebrows from impressed players who were new to Jobeky’s e-kits.
Their display was also home to a first for the firm - an electronic cocktail kit.
Lion Cajon Drums returned to the show with their ever-growing range of cajons.
The Devon based firm, run by Gary Clarke, produce a comprehensive range from traditional handmade flamenco cajons to junior cajons and an unadorned project model.
Lion’s products were demonstrated to full effect in the Master Class Suite later in the day by the likes of endorsee Matt Cowley.
Pimpco, the drum makeover company, filled a large stand with their vibrant custom work and accessories.
They were taking orders for their acclaimed Limited Edition Buddy Rich Memorial snare, which was featured in the recent memorial concert for the great man. A new venture for Pimpco is their Hitman Cajon range, featuring custom designed and laser cut sound holes.
It was good to see Premier displaying their goods at the festival. They even showed Nicko McBrain’s enormous kit. As fans of their drums will know, their kits of recent years have been designed in the UK but made abroad. This is no longer the case as, due to their acquisition of UK custom makers KD Drums, they were able to show their new and very impressive ranges of British made snare drums. Check out the ‘British Collection’ on their website.
Traps Drums made their debut at the event this year, showing their tried and tested compact mesh-head e-kits, shell-less acoustic kits and their innovative EPads, “the first trigger pad system to fit conventional drum kits”. Most of the visitors took the opportunity to try out their products.
Other companies represented at the festival included: Summerfield Music, selling Canadian-made Los Cabos drum sticks. Drum Tuna, with their sophisticated drum tuning aid. Hardcase, with their renowned moulded cases and Porter & Davies, who were selling their popular BC2 and BC Gigster devices, designed to deliver the power of the bass drum through the stool. Drummer’s Database’s Dave Mason also had a stand, drawing attention to their Facebook presence. Rock Star Skins also attended, with their colourful display of directly printed bass drum resonant heads. Their list of clients, which includes drummers from bands such as Judas Priest and Queen, implies that they really do live up to their name.
Two large rooms were set aside at the event for live demonstrations. The larger clinic room was equipped with a stage, ample seating and a full sound system. A slightly smaller room was set aside for masterclasses. Both rooms proved very popular with visitors and it was heartening to see large queues forming outside the doors before every event. Bobby Arechiga kept everyone amused and well informed of the schedule. After one of the clinics, Rick and Karen Prince gave a brief talk about the fast-approaching Stick it to MS charity event in July, for which 800 kit drummers are sought for a world record attempt in Manchester.
The day’s performances began with a demonstration of Jake Brown’s impressive technical and musical skills. Among other things, and inspired by a question asked at one of Bobby’s recent clinics, he performed a snare solo to a film of vintage trains. Pete Ray Biggin and Luke Harris performed powerful grooves together after Jake, then individually due to a technical hitch.
They were followed by the rhythmic mind controller Craig Blundell. Craig got the audience involved and conveyed some of his principles and ideas, including the tenet that “There is no excuse for not practicing!”. Many of Craig’s exercises are to be found on the Premier site. Andy Edwards was next, showing what can be achieved with a Jobeky/2Box combination. Andy eagerly ran through many styles and sounds with his set up.
For the last clinic, Pete Ray Biggin took to the stage again. He talked about the amount of hard work that was required to get to his position, playing for the likes of Level 42, and he played a blistering improvised jam with his friend and bassist, Moses.
The master classes in the smaller room featured Bob Wynne, Robert Brian and Raw Studios’ Richard Wilson. They all passed on valuable pearls of wisdom to attentive audiences.
The Jobeky team were very pleased with the way the day went and the next festival is already planned for 5th May 2013. It looks likely to follow the same winning format; visitors will continue to be able to try out the best of British drums, learn from the masters and catch up with their friends. Long may it continue!
Action photos: myb777 Photography http://www.myb777.co.uk/
Words and custom drum photos: Jeremy Peake
Thanks to Steve Jordan for additional help.
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