A train station is not usually the place to find a drummer. When was the last time you went to a gig by train? Getting your bass drum in the overhead luggage compartment is a proper challenge. Nevertheless, on this occasion in March 2019 Nick and I were waiting on the platform of our local station for the star of our next drum clinic. We were feeling a bit nervous to be honest and for a few good reasons. Firstly, meeting someone who plays for a very big band and being responsible for looking after them for the day would make most people nervous. Will they be nice? Will they be good to work with? At a previous drum clinic, we worked with Steve White who not only played for Paul Weller for twenty years but also played for The Who, Oasis and countless others. He is also a drumming hero of mine, but his friendly attitude put us at ease very quickly. I had met Robert Brain a couple of times before his Drum Dog clinic and we got on like mates instantly. Rob and Steve both live in the UK and drive their own drum kits about, whereas the guest we were waiting for platform side lives in New York and I was responsible for arranging the correct gear as well as all the other clinic responsibilities. I also hoped he wasn’t expecting something like Grand Central Station in our little town.

The train finally arrives, late (welcome to the UK) and last to get off is the drummer for Nile Rogers and Chic - Ralph Rolle and his manager Anne. We say our hellos and head over to the hotel for check-in and lunch and then to the Drum Dog studio. The first thing you learn about Ralph, apart from he is a really nice guy, is that an international touring drummer and educator is only one side of the man. The other side is an entrepreneur, municipal business owner and he seems to have a phone for each of them.

We arrive at the studio to film a couple of videos for our YouTube channel, Ralph seems quiet and tired, not a great blend for some engaging content but as soon as I say “we are rolling” then “snap” Ralph is on it. I have never seen anything like it, he spoke to the camera as if he was giving a one to one lesson to his best friend. All this while I was hiding the fact that the hotel and double booked the room that night’s clinic was taking place in, leaving us about half an hour for load-in, set up and sound check. Time to panic.

In the end, we squeezed some more time. Yamaha’s drum tech arrived with a beautiful kit at Ralph’s specifications to accompany a stunning set of cymbals sent by Zildjian. We got the audience seated just on time and flopped onto a seat at the back of the room and breathed a huge sigh of relief as Ralph mesmerized the room in his very special way.

So, there you have it, my story so far in hosting drum clinics. We made great friends with Ralph and Anne who returned later in the year to film Ralph’s lesson pack with us. You can find that along with his inspirational story on our website DRUM.DOG and I’ll tell you about the making of in my next blog.

As for drum clinics, 2020 has thrown one or two curveballs so who knows about the future but just before the Covid-19 crisis and lockdowns, I had a clinic enquiry for one of the biggest names in the world for drumming. So, let’s just wait and see!

In the meantime, if you’ve never been to a drum clinic, check out some videos of our own clinics on our YouTube page here: https://fetch.drum.dog/youtube-live