2011 Modern Drummer Festival

May 21, 2011

Montclair State University – Montclair, NJ

This was the first time in about 3-4 years that I’ve been back at the Modern Drummer Fest and back to MSU.  It was great to see this campus again and it has been growing and rebuilding ever since.

Last year, Shure sent a boatload of mics to the event.  This year, due to the fact that 2 Shure artists were on the bill, I decided it would be good to come out and support.  I arrived Friday afternoon and went over to the hall to see how set-up was progressing……quite nicely actually!  Shure Endorser Horacio “El Negro” Hernandez was setting up his group first as they would be closing the show.  He had 12 musicians and a flamenco tap dancer to top it all off.   Among these musicians was an amazing vocal singer from Spain that Horacio has been telling me about for years: Concha Buika.  Along a percussion player, 3 background singers (one being Horacio’s daughter) a couple of horn players, Keys, guitar, and bass, this would turn out to be one of the most interesting and musically complex performances I had ever seen at this show.  My compliments to Negro’s manager, Margaret Sterlacci for organizing all of these artists, literally from around the globe to come in and perform.  Of course,  I made sure that we had plenty of the new mics along for the ride.  On his Toms, we put up the Beta 98AMP and for his ride, the Beta 181/C.  On overheads, a pair of KSM32‘s.  On the guitar amp, the KSM313 ribbon mic always delivers amazing tone. On the Kick, the popular Beta 52A and the new Beta 91A combination.

The next morning, I arrived at the University around 9 am to catch the show opening with endorser Jim Riley (Rascal Flatts).  Jim was invited to do a Master Class for about 125 people.  Jim is also a fantastic player and a great clinician.  His focus was on using rudiments to enhance your playing on the kit musically.  He played along with several tracks that he had composed.  He also mentioned that as musical director for Rascal Flatts, he is allowed a lot of flexibility in arranging for them.  Jim also used the Beta 98AMP’s and the Beta 181’s for his clinic. A special Congratulations goes out to Jim for being voted the Modern Drummer 2011 Country Drummer of the Year.

Other artists invited this year included Gil Sharone, Trevor Lawrence Jr., Jeff “Tain” Watts, John Riley and Aquiles Priester.  It was a great show and there were plenty of great comments on the new Beta drum mics.

Shure Endorser Billy Ward also showed up.  It was wonderful catching up with him.

Special Thanks to the staff at Modern Drummer magazine for always putting together an exciting show.  Thanks to HB Group and Bill Dest for handling the sound needs and the crew for taking such good care of all of the mics.

Ryan Smith

Ryan is a Regional Manager of Artist Relations at the Shure office in Nashville, TN. He started at Shure in 1993 in Customer Service and joined the AR team in 1996. Ryan has over 30 years of performance experience playing drums and percussion in various groups and genres. In his spare time he enjoys woodworking, watching movies, videography, and camping with his family. His Twitter handle is @ryan_smith1969.

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