Would you drive an hour to a drum store where the temps were over 100 degrees on the sidewalk to hear two drummers put on a clinic? I did recently, and it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time…

Felipe Torres and Veronica Bellino helped host the grand opening of Got Music Lessons?, out in Redlands, California, on Saturday July 7. Felipe is an east coast rocker who has played with The Monkees and with the late Davy Jones, and Veronica is Jeff Beck’s new drummer. I was not familiar with Felipe, but I had watched a few of Veronica’s videos, and I really liked her relaxed, fluid playing. Both of them had played together in SLAMM, a multi-percussionist group led by Carmine Appice.

Got Music Lessons? is a music teaching environment that was launched by Chad Patrick, a local educator and inventor of the Drum Wallet, who believes in the power of small music stores. The building was partitioned into several teaching areas, with PLENTY of air conditioning! It was a nice, low-key setup that was very personable… I mean, when was the last time you went to a clinic and had a local resident attend it and shake every one’s hands just to say hello?

That’s when I knew I was in the land of humans again, not corporations..

The clinic got underway with introductions from Chad, and then Felipe and Veronica played a short drumming duet. It was tight, cool, and both drummers have some very interesting tricks up their sleeves. Felipe can do more with a small splash cymbal on a snare than you would believe, and Veronica can play toms like congas, getting really cool hand-press tones out of her drums. They both used these skills throughout the afternoon, and it was very musical.

Each drummer played along to solo music tracks as well, explaining very clearly how they did what they did. Felipe and Veronica work really well together, and for their first clinic, they made it flow like a seasoned act. Felipe’s best presentation was the tune in 21/16, and Veronica really got my attention with her duplication of her YouTube videos where she plays a collection of bucket drums. They ended the formal clinic with a version of “Wipeout” they called “Workout,” wailing as fast as they could.

I’ve been attending drum clinics for many years, and what stuck out with this one was this: it was not a blazing display of blinding chops and flailing madness. It was two drummers making music and having fun. I know Chad was feeling stress from the sound system acting up, but he was in great hands as Felipe and Veronica handled it all like the pros they are.

I could not stay for the Master Class, but I liked that such a thing was offered to give drummers a chance to play along with the clinicians. We need more of this, to encourage young drummers especially to get up in front of the audience and give it a shot.

Chad Patrick’s website, http://www.boywithadrum.com, has links to his various teaching and music products, for more information. It takes guts to launch any kind of music education project nowadays, and I really wish him well. As I was leaving, he said, “Wait a minute. You were here early. Here you go.” He handed me a bag with some Vic Firth sticks, drumming charts and a few other goodies. When was the last time you left a clinic with someone making sure you weren’t exiting empty handed?

The quote I will remember from this clinic best came from Veronica, when she said, “It’s about doing your thing, having fun making drums and music yours.” As I walked out back into the triple digit temps, I remembered why I got into drumming in the first place. For that, I will drive just about any distance to find my way back home.