December 07, 2021 I Event

PASIC Returns as Live Event

Nicole Daley, sergeant first class with the U.S. Army

The Percussive Arts Society’s PASIC show returned November 10–13 in Indianapolis understandably smaller than years past but with enthusiasm from those in attendance, despite some uncertainty surrounding the show.

“We were thinking that it would not be attended terribly well just due to the masks and the mandate on the vaccine,” said Chris Long, vice president of operations at Innovative Percussion. PASIC required proof of vaccination at entrance. If attendees didn’t have their actual card with them, they were required to upload a picture of their card to an app called Bindle.

Regardless, Long felt positive about PASIC. “The vibe has been good and everybody’s been so happy to be here,” he said. “Attendance has been great.”

Others weren’t so sure. “Obviously, relative to previous years, it’s quieter,” said Roger Treacher, president of Dynasty/Titan Field Frames. “It’s surprising to see so many of the big names not here.”

Of course, being a drum convention, PASIC wasn’t literally quiet. “We’ve got a lot of school kids coming through, so they make a lot of noise,” Treacher said. The 2021 Bands of America Grand National Championships, a school band competition, was occurring in Indianapolis concurrent to PASIC, which meant it was filled with students enthusiastic about bashing on some drums.

Antonio Ferranti, president of Proel North America, there exhibiting Tamburo Drums, felt PASIC had exceeded all expectations, but outlined how touch-and-go the decision to exhibit had been for the Italian company. “We reserved the booth a year ago, but we were playing a wait-and-see game until [we] decided to move forward,” he said. “When the U.S. government and the Italian government allowed travel from Europe to the U.S. for vaccinated citizens starting on November 8, which was only two days before the show began, we decided that we could bring our team over from Italy and have a great show.” Tamburo was showing three professional series of kits all handmade in Italy.

Ferranti characterized the last two years as “a really wild ride” for Tamburo. It’s been in business in Europe for nearly 40 years, but only first launched in the U.S. at the 2020 Winter NAMM Show. “One month later, the pandemic hit Italy just before it hit the United States really bad,” he said. “So, our factory in Italy had to close down for a while, and then of course the United States closed down. So in many ways this year, 2021 PASIC, is the true launch of Tamburo Drums.” He added this year has been “fantastic,” with the company seeing growth at 300 percent.

He emphasized the importance of music: “We are proud to work with Music Inc. magazine and anyone who promotes music and music education.”

Another entity proudly promoting music at PASIC was the U.S. Army. Nicole Daley, sergeant first class with the U.S. Army, said the land service branch of the United States Armed Forces is proud to have offered musicians a secure place to work during turbulent times. “What we’re most excited about, especially after coming out of COVID, is the fact that we can offer jobs in the musician field that are stable,” she said. “A lot of times, we all did it, living in that gig economy, where you’re waiting for that next paycheck. You’re not quite sure if it’s gonna happen. And the Army offers just that solid paycheck for playing your instrument.” She added it offers benefits, such as health insurance, as well.

She observed that the Army is attracting not just displaced musicians, but newly educated ones. “Musicians who were about to maybe finish college, whether undergrad or graduate degrees who were finishing at that time, saw how unstable the music field was and realized that they saw a lot of their friends that were in the military bands not facing that instability,” Daley said. “They looked more seriously at military bands than they maybe would have two years ago.”

One might assume that being a percussionist in the military amounts to being in a marching band. Not so, according to Daley. “We’re more of that drum-set-heavy focus, because a lot of our bands are using our percussionists for rock bands, for jazz combos, maybe for Dixie bands or New Orleans-style brass bands,” she said. “But we still have to have percussionists that are able to do those rudiments because we marched. They have to be able to play concert snare, because we do your full-concert-band concerts, where they’re going to have to do that.”

One of the most fun things about a drum kit is what color it is, something in no short supply at Dynasty/Titan Field Frames. “We’ve got some pretty extreme drum finishes going on right now,” Treacher said. “Literally almost whatever finish you can imagine, we can do it.”

Perhaps the reason for this is how the company handled COVID-19. “We’ve been focusing on keeping the team together, so we had no furloughs,” Treacher said, adding the company is optimistic for 2022. “The graph is going in the right direction.”

Others were more cautious in their outlook. “I certainly hope [2022] looks a lot like 2018 and 2019, but it’s a different world,” said Chris Stankee, director of artist relations for Sabian Cymbals. “We’ve seen some exciting things happening with virtual events that I’m sure are going to continue to a certain extent. And people’s teaching practices have expanded exponentially because of that. So, there will be some good things come out of this terrible mess that we’ve been in the last two years.”

Stankee expressed positivity about PASIC in general. “The organization that’s helped us uplift this drumming community for the last several decades is very special to us,” he said.

Steven Fisher, director of drums and percussion at Yamaha, agreed. “It’s really good to see people coming back and the whole professional community engaging again,” he said, adding that drummers are “very communal.”

Jerrod Douglas, marketing manager with Pageantry Innovations, was concerned going into this iteration of PASIC, but said it had worked out. “I was a little worried, obviously, coming out of a pandemic,” he said. “Everybody is hesitant to get back out in the public and all of that, but it’s been great. We’ve had a lot of great attendance, great conversations with everybody.”

A big factor all manufacturers have struggled with for the last two years is the supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic. Addressing this, Long summed it all up in six words: “The supply chain thing is real.” He explained what this had been like for Innovative Percussion.

“We had about four to five months where we had zero orders and then we had a year’s worth of orders in about a month,” he said. “So it has been very turbulent to try to keep up with all of these orders and hire new employees. But everybody’s been very understanding of the long lead times for some of our products and we hope to have a lot of that resolved by the end of the year. So we’re looking forward to very good 2022.”

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