I just recently stopped off in Santa Barbara on my way home to Los Angeles to visit Mike’s Drum Shop. This cool little classic drum pad opened decades ago,in 1968, and was always a place I looked forward to checking out if I had time. I bought a ride cymbal there a few years ago, and saw a Mike Clark clinic there, in the back room where the walls were literally covered with cymbals. Awesome place. The real deal.

So last week, I make my way off the 101 freeway to Avenida de la Vina, only to find an empty building. There was a drum set and a guitar in the front window, but no drums for sale. Nothing. Empty. Gone.

A guy walking up to the door answered my question: Mike’s Drum Shop had closed a few months before. Nwo it was just a rehearsal and lesson shop.

I couldn’t believe it.

A drum store in business for 40 years closes? That’s two generations of drummers, maybe father and son studying at the same place, building and sharing memories. A place where legends held clinics and passed on the torch of knowledge. A place to get excited about one hundred miles away and getting closer.

If this post can be of any benefit, I hope drummers will pay a visit very soon to their local drum store and support it, even if all you can afford is a magazine. I’m going to make it a point to start looking up small drum stores on the Internet, and if I have a few bucks, order something now and then. Times are obviously tough for us all, but this is something we should all want to be a part of preserving.

As you read this, Drummers World in New York City is also no more… it closed on Dec. 28th, after over 30 years of business.

Who’s next?

That’s not a question we should have to ask very often.

I got my start with formal lessons from The Percussion Center, in Newport Delaware. Dick Kenny was the owner, and he was a cool guy who cared about young drummers. He gave lessons, sold kits and parts, did drum recovering… the whole thing. Joe Brancato, a legend at Musician’s Institute, taught there when I was in my teens. I learned some valuable lessons from Joe, and Jim Chapin was a regular as well. Imagine being 15 and sitting in a room (as I did for a few golden lessons) with the guy who literally wrote the book on four-way jazz coordination.

These places must survive if the truest messages of drumming and comradery are to survive.

I hope you will let other drummers know about this post, and hopefully if they read it, they too will find a way, when they can, to support local drum stores. We have access to the world through the Internet. Maybe 2012 will be the year that the brotherhood of drumming, which absolutely exists, can come together and Occupy Drum Store Closings.

As it should, because our heritage and the time-honored means to pass it on is on the line.