Cape Breton International Drum Festival 2005, Part 1: Performances

Tiger Bill Performs at Cape Breton International Drum Festival 2005

Part 1: Performances

2005 marked the Fifth Annual Cape Breton International Drum Festival and I was honored to have been asked to perform. I had a real blast doing it. Here’s the story in words and exclusive video clips.

We Finally Get Together!
Bruce Aitken, drummer/educator and promoter behind the Cape Breton International Drum Festival, first contacted me via email in June, 2001. He had just completed his first festival and was beginning to gear up for the next. Bruce came across my Web site and asked if I would like to be involved with his Fest. That’s how it all started and we have been conversing over email ever since. Then, in 2004 at Winter NAMM, I finally met Bruce in person. It’s always cool when I get to put a face to an email address!

A couple of months later Bruce called to ask if I would like to perform at his fifth annual event. I not only played but, in keeping with my policy of bringing you exclusive video coverage of the best drummers on the planet, I brought along my trusty video camera as well! (Although I attempted to cover the event in its entirety, I could not get video clips of all performers involved. I apologize to those who were not included.)

It’s A Family Affair
For the past five years Bruce Aitken, along with more than a little help from his wife Gloria-Jean and their friends, has brought some of the world’s greatest drummers to the beautiful little island of Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. There, in a wonderful old theater complete with its own resident (friendly) ghost, these drummers perform for an audience of drumheads who travel from all over the world to experience the show.

While I have performed at quite a few drum events over the years, I must say that Cape Breton is very special one indeed. Bruce and Gloria-Jean Aitken treat their artists like family. It’s a ton of work to put together an event of this scale and Bruce and Gloria-Jean have done it consistently well for the past five years. They do it because they love music and drumming, and they love to see the look on the faces of the drumheads in the audience, especially the young ones, who are motivated by what they see on that one weekend each year.

Friday, April 29th: Sound Check
Bruce and Gloria-Jean are very fortunate to have so many friends who are willing to donate their time to help them pull this event together. On Friday morning, a group of volunteers drove the artists to the Savoy Theater in Glace Bay for a sound check. The theater, built in the 1920s, is one of a kind and had excellent acoustics.


The “Haunted” Savoy Theatre

I have videotaped many performances over the years and I was looking forward to getting some good footage of this event to add to my collection. I did get the footage but I also got a bit of a surprise! While videotaping the show from backstage, and trying to remain as quiet as possible, a stack of papers suddenly fell on the floor. Seconds after that, my video camera seemed to fly out of my hands and (luckily) landed on my sneaker, which saved it from smashing on the floor. I chalked both incidents up to a sudden case of uncommon clumsiness until a couple of the locals told me about the Savoy Ghost, which is a friendly ghost that has been seen by numerous people over the years. Then I wondered. Was I being extraordinarily clumsy that day or was the ghost playing games with me?

Anyway! Here is a video teaser put together from the sound check. Watch carefully and you just might see the Savoy Ghost!


Cape Breton 2005 Drum Fest Artist Signed Poster

Saturday, April 30th: Day One – Show Time!

>> The historic Louisbourg Fife & Drum Troop opened the show with a cool rudimental exhibition.

>> I was next up and decided to open the show with something a little different. Check out the video excerpt below and you’ll see what I mean! I also demonstrated brush techniques, practical applications of the “Money” Beat, musical polyrhythms, and basics of my Dual Speed Sticking technique for which Mark Love, cymbal specialist at SABIAN, designed a prototype 16″ hi-hat for me… many thanks Mark!

Cape Breton Saturday: Tiger Bill

>> Alessandra Belloni, a gifted virtuoso on the tambourine, was up next. She was joined on stage by Sergio Bellotti who accompanied her dance, vocal, and rhythmic performance on the drumset.

Cape Breton Saturday: Alessandra Belloni and Sergio Bellotti

>> The Otarion East Coast Showcase featured regional drummers Matt Casey, Alister Hunston, and Simon Miminis.

>> Next up was First Nations drummer Keith Dawson Jr., who was originally scheduled to appear in an acoustic/electronic duet with Bruce Aitken. Although health reasons prevented Bruce from performing, drummer Skip Hadden sat in for him.

Cape Breton Saturday: Keith Dawson Jr and Skip Hadden

>> Bruce Aitken did, however, take the stage to perform with one of his gifted students, 12 year old Marcel Bourgeois and Keith Dawson Jr.

Cape Breton Saturday: Bruce Aitken, Marcel Bourgeois, Keith Dawson Jr

>> Motown legend Uriel Jones was next and played along with a few of the many hit records he has recorded. Uriel’s cymbals didn’t show up at the festival, so he wound up using my SABIAN cymbals. Turns out he liked them so much, that he ended up becoming a SABIAN endorser on the spot!

Cape Breton Saturday: Motown Legend Uriel Jones

>> Studio/touring drummer and MD columnist Billy Ward was up next. He not only brought some great tracks to play along with but he offered some valuable drum tips taken from his new DVD Big Time.

Cape Breton Saturday: Billy Ward

>> Studio Legend Hal Blaine was presented with with the first Cape Breton Drum Festival Legends Award. Hal was unable to attend but sent the following recorded audio message, which includes a valuable warning about drug abuse:

>> Canadian drum star Vito Rezza closed the first day with an educational and very entertaining performance.

Sunday, May 1st: Day Two

>> Gil Sharone, drummer with Stolen Babies, offered tips on becoming a drummer and included demonstrations of ska and reggae grooves followed by some brush grooves and an extended solo.

Cape Breton Sunday: Gil Sharone (Marks his first performance at a drum fest!)

>> Yvette “Baby Girl” Preyer, drummer/vocalist with Michael McDonald, discussed the value of learning to be a singing drummer and offered some cool demonstrations.

Cape Breton Sunday: Yvette “Baby Girl” Preyer

>> The  East Coast Otarion Showcase featured regional drummers Joel MacNeil, McIntyre & The New Brunswick Percussion Ensemble, and Doug MacKay.

>> Next up was studio legend Bernard Purdie who is actually quite shy, as you’ll see in the excerpt that follows.

Cape Breton Sunday: Bernard “Pretty” Purdie

>> Will Kennedy, former Yellowjackets drummer, was next up and played to some great tracks that showed off his chops and musicality.

Cape Breton Sunday: Will Kennedy

>> Marco Minnemann thrilled the audience with a display of pyrotechnics. He even played along to a video clip from Monty Python’s Life of Brian that had the audience going wild.

Cape Breton Sunday: Marco Minnemann

>> Dom Famularo, who has been the “Ambassador” of the Cape Breton International Drum Festival since its inception, closed the fest with a motivational message combined with his unique sense of humor, followed by an inspirational drum solo performance.

Cape Breton Sunday: Dom Famularo

>> Grand Finale: As per the tradition of the festival, all performers took the stage and played together, which brought the audience to its feet.

Click the following link to see Cape Breton Drum Festival 2005 – Part Two – Artist Interviews!