Guitar Center’s annual Drumoff (or drummer’s night off) took place a Club Nokia in Los Angeles this Saturday, January 18 until the wee hours of the next morning. The festivities kicked off with a red carpet with a spate of fabulous drummers who all had the night off from working with their bands. This is a special night for drummers to occupy front and center.
Some of the red carpets stars included returning judges Brook Wackerman (Bad Religion, Tenacious D) and Adrian Young (No Doubt). Other drummers had the night off from backing top solo artists. Nisan Stewart (Jamie Foxx, P Diddy, Missy Elliot) brought his young son with him – and he was perfectly behaved while staying up very late. Dave Elitch (Mars Volta, Miley Cyrus), Aaron Spears (Usher), Chris Johnson (Rihanna), John Tempesta (The Cult), Keith Harris (drummer/producer for Black Eyed Peas), Thomas Lang (Tina Turner, Kelly Clarkson), Trevor Lawrence (Eminem, Herbie Hancock, Dr. Dre), and Peter Erskine (Director of Drums at USC). 2002 winner Cora Coleman-Dunham currently plays with Beyonce and Prince. Ray Luzier brought his long-time girlfriend Aspen Brandy Lea of 'Model Employee'.
The really big surprise for all was Steve Perry, former lead singer of Journey, who left many a mouth agape with just being there, never mind taking a turn a playing cowbell and singing backing vocals for friend Steve Ferrone. Most of the performers also walked the red carpet and appeared in several photos. Questlove initially declined to walk the red carpet, but Guitar Center managed to get a photo of Questlove with Chad Smith.
Chris Dave and The Drumhedz opened the evening’s concert. Dave is the drummer for Adele, Dolly Parton and D’Angelo. Chad Smith of The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Chickenfoot performed funky jazz fusion with his Bombastic Meatbats, guitarist Jeff Kollman, Kevin Chown, and Ed Roth. Ray Luzier of Korn performed, borrowing Jeff Kollman. They dazzled with fiery licks aplenty.
The pool of competing drummers displayed extreme talent. Josiah Maddox of Chicago, Dawud "D-Mile" Aasiya-Bey of Lake Elsinore, Jonathan Burks of Little Rock, Arkansas, Shariq Tucker from the Bronx, and Hilario Bell from Miami all battled it out for a prize package valued at $50,000. The five finalists were selected from over 5,000 contestants nationwide.
The evening was capped off with drummer Steve Ferrone of Average White Band, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers being inducted into Guitar Center’s Rock Walk with Questlove lending his talents on the kit and saying a few very flattering words. Immediately after, came the announcement of the evening’s Drumoff winner, Dawud Aasiya-Bey of Lake Elsinore, California who will receive $25,000 cash, VIP tickets to NAMM, and several drum endorsement deals worth another $25,000.
One of the coolest parts of the evening, is getting to hang out in the VIP lounge with familiar faces from years past to catch up, and meeting some of the guest judges and performers. Last year’s winner Carlitos Mendoza is still working as a teacher and putting a combo together.
After the concert and announcement of the winner, Questlove played a DJ set in the VIP lounge well into the night. He takes the role of DJ very seriously, and it felt like a journey into music as he hears it. He was so focused on what he was doing that the crowd around him was almost immaterial as he grooved, spliced, and scratched. He barely touched the Pellegrinos his crew brought for him.
Brooklyn Bowl, Los Angeles is jealous, jealous, jealous of you having Questlove every Thursday night for the “Bowl Train.” To add insult to injury, “The Tonight Show” will be leaving Los Angeles. At least Jimmy Fallon with have The Roots with him. 2011 winner JP Bouvet didn’t let this enter his head as he danced into the wee hours of the morning.
Please read about drummer Steve Ferrone's induction into Guitar Center's Rock Walk.
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