A Los Angeles Diary: Part One

Our trip to Tycoon, Paiste, and Taye

Last week we had the opportunity to spend two days in Los Angeles, visiting manufacturers and artist relations facilities. On Wednesday we landed in Ontario, California and headed off for a day exploring what's new at Tycoon Percussion, Taye Drums, and Paiste Cymbals. Come along, and see what we found.

Tycoon Percussion

Last year Tycoon moved into a new larger warehouse in Ontario. This office houses US sales, artist relations, and shipping.

Nicole Abucejo

First contact: Nicole Abucejo holds down the marketing coordinator position at Tycoon.

Ivy Yu

Ivy Yu, shown here at last month's PASIC event, must be about the youngest company President in the DRUM! business. She is responsible for Tycoon's US operation.

Conference room

Next stop, the conference room, which also houses an artist demo space. By the way, if you ever need a nine-foot tall Khong Yao drum, Tycoon is the place..

{pagebreak} Tycoon congas

One of the best things Tycoon has introduced are high quality, carvings, shavings, and other techniques for finishing their high-end congas.

Tycoon cajons

Tycoon manufactures all its products at its own factory in Thailand. It offers a dazzling array of cajons, including acrylic models.

Tycoon Warehouse

Into the warehouse. Tycoon's facility is large giving the still-young company room to grow. This is Tycoon Music's 30th year, but as a global percussion brand it is much younger.

Wall of Cajons

No trip would be complete without the ever-popular wall of cajons. Maybe they should rename the warehouse!.

Artist gear

Looking slightly forlorn in a corner of the warehouse, seconds, and artist's instruments in for repair, await attention..

{pagebreak} Todd Trent

After visiting Tycoon we headed just down the road to Chino, California to visit Todd Trent at Taye Drums. Todd was formerly the music of Ontario Music and now handles marketing for Taye. It's also a woman-run firm: Katy Chen is the US President.

JLo kit

"What is that sweet mirror-finish kit?" you might be wondering. It's one that Taye endorser Charles Streeter used last year on the Jennifer Lopez tour. He's currently out with JLo on the road until January.

Paiste folks

After leaving Taye we grabbed a quick bowl of Pho for lunch and headed south to Brea, California, US home of Paiste. From left to right, that's Andrew, Julie, Arturo, Kelly (Paiste), Jace, and April. Paiste's US office includes a warehouse, in-house sales, dealer services, accounting, and artist relations. In short, all these people have pretty cool jobs. Our powerful female theme continues: Erik Paiste, great grandson of the company founder Michael Toomas Paiste, lives in the US but commutes regularly to Switzerland and the Paiste factory. His wife Kelly Paiste works in all phases of the business from store sales to events to being the company ambassador. She's been called the "first lady of cymbals."

Paiste warehouse

In one corner of the warehouse they have a drumset with families of cymbals (Alpha, Signature, etc.) set up for artists to educate themselves on Paiste sounds.

Paiste Twentys

Andrew Shreve who handles marketing explained that though the Twentys have been popular the company has been experimenting with more focused ride sounds, and a wider array of sounds. A dozen rides are setup for testing. We'd love to hang around with our Paiste cohorts but there are stories to file and plans to make. Tomorrow we have to be up early for a daylong visit to two Yamaha locations.

Austin Drummer Wins V-Drums Championship

Thomas Lang

It started with online competitions among hundreds of drumming contestants in June. That was followed by eight regional events held in music stores across the US. And, finally, on Halloween, the Roland V-Drum Championships (US) took place at the Austin, Texas Convention Center, on the eve of the annual Percussive Arts Society Convention.

This event, the third annual US competition, serves to promote the drumming and programming skills of percussionists across the US. Each contestant performs for approximately five minutes, using a Roland TD-30 kit and SPD Sampling Pad. Winners are judged on creative use of the electronics as well as chops. The winner was a hometown boy, Austin's Patrick Kennedy, a band director and drummer who won the judges with a powerful chops-filled but melodic set. In addition to fabulous prizes, he'll represent the US at the V-Drum Finals in Frankfurt, Germany, next March. The runner up was Philip P.J. Hill. Youngster Ashton Leverett also won a Roland kit.

The show opened with Roland endorser Johnny Rabb playing a scorching set of funk and hip-hop inspired rhythms for the crowd. That was followed by performances by the eight finalists. While the judges deliberated Thomas Lang came on for a monster set that showed off the authentic acoustic sounds of the V-drums. Thomas played one of the standard Roland drum kits, and just wailed for the audience. Monstrous!

The Roland V-Drums Championships are sponsored in the US by American DJ, DRUM!, DW Hardware, Remo, and Vic Firth, in addition to Roland.

Johnny Rabb V-Drums

Johnny Rabb played a stylistically diverse, emotional set.

Roland V-Drums

With the lights dancing off the Roland sets, the stage presented a vision of sonic power.

DeCarlo Davis

Contestant DeCarlo Davis of Winston-Salem, NC

Patrick Kennedy

Eventual contest winner Patrick Kennedy of Austin, Texas.

PJ Hill

P.J. Hill was the runner-up.

Thomas Lang

Thomas Lang was in his usual incredible form.

Thomas Lang


Thomas Lang

Master of Ceremonies Tim Root of Roland, with Ashton Leverett.

Thomas Lang

Tim Root represents his favorite magazine sponsor.

Warbringer and Destruction

Many nu-skool thrash brands tear it up, but we were unprepared for Carlos Cruz of Warbringer. Although super-tight and fast, he dug an impressively deep groove and big sound on a compact setup.


It was back to the old school with German thrash legends Destruction. Vaaver, the fifth in a long line of drummers, looked masterfully in control as he doled out beats from 30 years and 10 albums' worth of tunes.


DRUM! Night 2012 In Slides: A Night To Remember

DRUM! Night 2012 was the third annual clinic, concert, and benefit raffle held by DRUM!, in conjunction with San Jose Jazz SummerFest.This year it featured San Jose Taiko, Nate Brown, Street Drum Corps, Tim Yeung, Cora Coleman-Dunham Trio, Kenny Aronoff, Paul Bostaph, and other artists.

DRUM! Night 2012

San Jose Taiko ( opened the event with a street performance of original compositions.

DRUM! Night 2012

DRUM! Groove Analysis Video Teacher and Alfred book author Nate Brown, conducted a stick tricks clinic in the lobby prior to the show. Nate runs when he's not playing drums.

DRUM! Night 2012

Mike Snyder held forth in the Roland V-Drum Lab at the event.

DRUM! Night 2012

The silent auction (to benefit high school music education) featured snare drums, cymbals, sticks, and recording gear from the sponsors.

{pagebreak} DRUM! Night 2012

The merch table was hopping, thanks to DRUM! staffers Jordan Liffengren (left) and Cristina Strombotne (center).

DRUM! Night 2012

Street Drum Corps emceed the event, and involved the crowd in their performance.

DRUM! Night 2012

6. Street Drum Corps in action at the 2012 Drumnight concert.

DRUM! Night 2012

Street Drum Corps at Drumnight 2012. I can feel it.

{pagebreak} DRUM! Night 2012

Tim Yeung opened his segment of the show with a furious performance.

DRUM! Night 2012

Tim Yeung came to fame for his work with Morbid Angel and Divine Heresy.

DRUM! Night 2012

During chats with the crowd, Tim emphasized the role of listening, even when playing at massive decibel levels.

{pagebreak} DRUM! Night 2012

“Music” says Tim Yeung, “is about relationships between musicians and the audience.”

DRUM! Night 2012

Cora Coleman’s trio, featuring husband Josh Dunham on bass, delivered a high-powered set of funk, jazz, fusion and more.

DRUM! Night 2012

Cora opened the set with a melodic piece that highlighted the range of her perfectly-tuned set.

DRUM! Night 2012

Cora Coleman-Dunham in action – an amazing musician.

{pagebreak} DRUM! Night 2012

Keep practicing, kids. Cora Coleman-Dunham at Drumnight 2012

DRUM! Night 2012

Cora Coleman-Dunham: beauty in motion.

DRUM! Night 2012

Former Slayer and Testament star Paul Bostaph picked up the 2nd Annual BADAAS (Bay Area Drummers Achievement Awards) presented by Andy Doerschuk of DRUM!

DRUM! Night 2012

Seeing Kenny Aronoff in the San Jose Repertory Theatre setting – like a small opera hall – was a treat.

{pagebreak} DRUM! Night 2012

Kenny regaled the crowd with tales of playing the Kennedy Center, and the inauguration.

DRUM! Night 2012

To the students in the crowd, Kenny Aronoff advised, “Hard work is not four years in college. Hard work is your whole life. Everything I got I got through hard work.”

DRUM! Night 2012

Aronoff is without doubt the only drummer to have played with Fogerty, Dylan, the Stones, John Cougar, and Springsteen, not to mention hundreds more.

DRUM! Night 2012

Yeah! That's how you do it.

{pagebreak} DRUM! Night 2012

Cora Coleman-Dunham pitched in to draw the raffle prizes, including this Sabian cymbal.

DRUM! Night 2012

The annual event benefits Lincoln High School music programs. Marian Ross and Yvonne Reddy of Lincoln High accept a sponsor plaque from DRUM!

DRUM! Night 2012

Backstage after the show, VIP ticketholders hang with the artists. A fan asks Tim Yeung what 260 bpm feels like.

DRUM! Night 2012

Cora with the fans.

DRUM! Night 2012

Kenny Aronoff and Louie Bellson’s wife Francine Bellson trade stories.

DRUM! Night 2012

“You think I'm giving you all my secrets?”

DRUM! Night 2012

Pre-show dinner: Josh and Cora with DRUM! Publisher Phil Hood

DRUM! Night 2012

Pre-show dinner. Cora Coleman-Dunham, DW Artist Relations Rep Juels Thomas, and DRUM! Office Manager Cookie Williams

Didi Negron Chills Out With DRUM!

Drummer: Didi Negron Backstage
Where: Rehearsals for Cirque du Soleill

Nellyris "Didi" Negron was a V-Drum Championship runner-up and is now a drummer with Cirque du Soleil. Here she is relaxing backstage with a great drumming mag during Cirque du Soliel's Amaluna rehearsals.

[Ed. Note: Each episode of Caught In The Act features a photo of a drummer in action, from the famous like Danny Carey to the not-so-famous local indies. If you’re a photographer who’d like to feature your work in Caught In The Act, drop us a note.]