Forty-Grand Finals


Clink, Clink
We’re going to do things a little differently here. In place of a snappy editorial overview of the 2010 Guitar Center Drum Off Grand Finals held January 8th at The Music Box in Hollywood, we are presenting a snappy Q&A with GC’s national drum and percussion buyer, Glenn Noyes. Along with the promo team led by Dustin Hinz and Maria Brown, he helped throw quite a ceremony and celebration for the five national contestants and the L.A. drum community at-large, and we figured kinda like the fatherly uncle of the bride, he deserved to say a few words.

We’ve taken care of the photo album with our feature pictorial. And you can find additional details here.

Hollywood Drum: What is the history of the Drum Off and your involvement with it?

Glenn Noyes: The History of the Guitar Center Drum Off dates back to 1988 when the idea of a local annual competition to find the best drummer started at our Hollywood and South Bay stores. Dave Weiderman and I started hosting these local events which started as a simple in store event with 5-10 players and $500 in prizes. It has grown to what it is today involving over 4,000 drummers across the country each year with over $40K in cash and prizes.

HD: The Grand Finals is a big annual event that keeps getting bigger. Give us an idea of the planning and organization it takes to pull it off.

Glenn: The event is always held in the beginning of January, but initial planning starts weeks after the previous one has concluded and runs the entire year. The hardest part is securing and confirming the artists. For the level of artists we get, they are constantly touring and recording and it is hard to confirm that far in advance. Once we know the lineup of artists, we can then determine the right size theatre or concert hall and get that locked in. These are just two of the many things that have to happen to make this run smooth.

HD: The Drum Off is a learning experience for many young drummers; has launched professional careers; and gathers the drum community. What particularly excites you and drives your passion for it?

Glenn: There are several reasons, but mainly the fact that Guitar Center is able to give this opportunity to every drummer in the country. Because of how big we are (215 stores and counting), we can find that hidden talent in any part of the country and change their lives. So many of our previous winners were looking for that break when they entered our competition and now they play with the biggest bands in the world. Previous winners are now drumming for Prince, Jay-Z, Styx, Mars Volta, and many others.

HD: How do you foresee the Drum Off evolving in both the short and long terms? Three-day festival at old man Yasgur’s farm, perhaps?

Glenn: This is something we will continue to grow each and every year. There are always new undiscovered drummers and we are amazed at the talent level every time we get to the finals. It’s funny, each year we say “How are we going to top what we just did?” But we always find a way. Guitar Center Drum Off is here to stay and will be a huge part of giving back to the drumming community for many years to come.

HD: Open solo. Feel free to communicate whatever you feel inspired to share with the Los Angeles drum community…

Glenn: The one thing we are extremely proud of is the ability to be able to offer this and other amazing events to the drumming community. There have been many drum competitions over the years at local levels, but this is the biggest and best. Guitar Center strives to make this a fun and fair competition so anyone at any age or playing level has the opportunity to get up and play in front of a crowd without feeling pressured or left out. This is not about selling product, it is about playing drums. We need more kids and adults to pick up a pair of sticks and discover the excitement of playing drums. It is vital to the health and future of the drumming community.

Guitar Center also hosts many “Sessions” and clinics throughout the year at stores all around the country. The week after Drum Off, we hosted both Gavin Harrison and Jojo Mayer in back to back Session events in our Hollywood store! Contact your local store for information on the next upcoming event.

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