Follow along here as Jason Bittner of Shadows Fall takes the US by storm during his first-ever Zildjian Clinic Tour. Here, Zildjian's John DeChristopher (Vice President, Artist Relations & Event Marketing Worldwide) blogs about what's happening each day on the tour. For a full list of tour dates, go here.
Check photos from the Tour on our Flickr Slide show, updated daily, by clicking the image below. Stay tuned for video coming soon, too.
Z-CLUB MEMBER CLINIC TOUR T-SHIRT
As a thank you to all of our amazing Z-Club members, we want to give you a little gift. Print this coupon and bring it to any of the Jason Bittner Clinic Tour dates and you'll get a free Clinic Tour T-Shirt*!
*Please present the coupon upon entering the clinic. Limit one per person. Coupon is only valid for one t-shirt. Limited quantity is available, please arrive early. Shirt size requests are not guaranteed and will only be honored at dealer discretion.
Day 15 - Mon., May 23rd @ Parkway Music – Clifton Park, NY
Parkway Music is only a short drive from where Jason lives, so needless to say, he had an excellent turnout and was given a hometown welcome by this very enthusiastic audience. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be at this clinic, but our sales rep, Mike Gross and the excellent staff at Parkway Music, took excellent care of Jason.
This was the last stop on Jason’s clinic tour so it was more than fitting to finish close to home and on a high note. He had another full house and having had a little more rest than when we were flying early every morning, Jason was rearing to go at show time!
I thought rather than tell you how great his solo was (plus, I wasn’t there), I’d let his playing speak for itself – so enjoy this video of his solo!
Once again, thanks to all the drum shops and music dealers for hosting Jason and me and supporting the Zildjian brand, all the great people we met on the road for their continued support, and of course to Jason Bittner for sharing his talent and being such a great ambassador.
Until next time...
Day 11 - Thur., May 19th @ Daddy's Junky Music - Syracuse, NY
Well unfortunately for me, my partner in crime, John D left me as of yesterday. We both had delayed, long, crappy flights home from Seattle on little sleep (what else is new), but we persevered because after all, we'd be sleeping in our own beds with our respective wives who I'm sure were missing us by that point - or were they??
Anyways, after a short 9 hours of sleep, i woke up, mustered up a pot of coffee, packed the car, and began my 2 hour drive out to Syracuse. It seems like I've been doing this Western NY drive a lot lately, my Alice in Chains tribute has been playing out this way a lot recently, so at least it's a familar trek. I got to Daddy's Junky Music around 3 pm, and my good friend Candi Bettencourt (Daddy's promotions director) was already waiting at the store with a Starbuck's for me - she's so on top of the important things!! We blabbed away as I set up, and sooner than later, the soundcheck was done and it was 5:45, showtime in 15 minutes!!! Well I waited a little longer for people to beat the work traffic and get to the store in time, and we had a nice little crowd amassing inside the store - some recognizable faces in the audience too - past students, and some of my western NY friends, so it was nice to have the support - with some people driving as far as I did (2 hours) to be there - thanks!!!
Tonight I changed up the program just a little bit - I played a few different songs, one being "Dead and Gone" off the latest SF album. The reason i played this was because one of my past students was coming out and REALLY wanted to hear this song, so I did him the favor and gave it my best shot - only managed to make one little mistake, and I think only he and I noticed! I should have let him play it - I noticed he airdrummed it better than I played it! :-) The solo (my fav part of the night) was once again inspired and dedicated to Joe Morello, and it was a fun one this evening, I took a few more liberties and it worked. Since the Daddy's clinics I've done in the past have had a tendency to run long (me and my big mouth), I cut down tonight's "educational" section and condensed most of the material into one 30 min. lesson. It went over very well, the people in attendance really enjoyed it (well, at least that's what they told me), and at the end of the night, I closed the clinic out with an odd request.
I had asked if there were "any final questions," and I was met with "can you play a Stigmata song?" Stigmata was my old hardcore band I played in for YEARS, and since we played a lot out in this area, I guess this shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did. So in good "college try" fashion, I fumbled with my ipod and cranked out "Nothing but Enemies," which I hadn't played since the last reunion in 2009. About 30 seconds into it, I forgot how fast this song was, but I was quickly reminded, ha ha, I put my game face on and did my best. Were there any mistakes, maybe, but it was fun nonetheless, AND it brought a smile to someone's face other than mine!!
We ended the night with a quiet dinner back at the hotel, I drove home the next day, slept most of the weekend away, practiced yesterday (Sunday), and I sit here in the lobby of Toyota getting my oil changed before i drive up to Parkway Music this afternoon to close out the tour tonight! Special thanks to Daddy's for another great clinic and to ZILDJIAN for bringing me to all the great cities I've encountered on this tour!!
Day 9 - Tues., May 17th @ Donn Bennett Drum Studio - Bellevue, WA
Let me start by saying I LOVE Seattle and have been here many times, and can count the number of times (on one hand) that it hasn't been rainy - this was one of them! The weather was beautiful - sunshine and blue skies!
After arriving in Seattle, we had about an hour at our hotel, which was just enough time to put our bags in our rooms and grab a quick lunch before our driver, Conrad, picked us up. I texted my old buddy Matt Cameron to see if he was in town and he texted me back saying he was recording in LA - I told him we were just there! However, my old friend Reek Havok (from our Simmons days 25+ years ago!) came out and it was great to see him other than during the craziness of the NAMM Show.
I hadn't been to Donn Bennett's shop in few years and was very impressed with its expansion and remodeling - the shop looks fabulous! Donn and I go back many years and he's one of the nicest and most respected guys in the business. And he has some of the most amazing vintage drums and cymbals you'll ever see - pure heaven for a vintage geek like me!
The guys at the shop had all the gear together for us, so set-up and sound check went smoothly, and a big thanks to Tama Drums rep, Paul Holdgate, for helping with the sound. As I've said before, Jason is a true professional as well as a perfectionist and the result is a great performance every time, and tonight he was really going for it! He also got some excellent questions from the audience...All in all, another great clinic with many excited fans hanging out for the meet & greet afterward.
Although there are still two New York dates left on the tour, this was the last date I'd be traveling with Jason, so it was only fitting that we all go out afterward to celebrate the success of his first Zildjian clinic tour! We did this in spite of knowing full well we had early flights home the next morning! It's ok because I plan to sleep for the remainder of my flight as soon as I finish writing this...
Jason, if you're reading this (and you better be), on behalf of Zildjian and myself personally, I want to thank you for always giving 200% and being an awesome ambassador for Zildjian. Even with those early morning flights and little sleep, no time to stop and eat anything, tight flight connections, missed flight connections! (remember Denver), the occasional snafu with the gear, narrowly missing a major car accident (remember Atlanta), the Red Sox sweeping the Yankees! (sorry buddy, had to rub it in!) and everything else, just remember our 'tour' motto - "We have a saying around here..." But seriously, we're so honored to have you in the Zildjian Family and I'm looking forward to the next time! Now I'll have to deal with what my wife refers to as "PTSA" (Post Tour Separation Anxiety) whenever I return from one of these tours...
Thanks to all our wonderful dealers for hosting us and making Jason and me feel so welcome, all the Zildjian and Tama sales reps for all their help on the ground, all the other sponsors: Tama, Remo, DW Pedals, Samson, LP and Pro-mark and most of all, Jason's fans for coming out. Until next time, but be sure to check the tour schedule for the two remaining New York clinics! Now for some sleep....zzzzzzzzzz
Day 8 - Mon., May 16th @ West LA Music - Los Angeles, CA
After a restful day off, Jason is charged up and and ready to go for the clinic in LA...West LA Music has hosted many Zildjian clinics in its long history - tonight's clinic was held in the store (rather than outdoors across the street) due to the weather. That was the right call because it was cold!
I had rented a car when we got into LA Saturday night, so we had the flexibility of getting to the store early to set up. We arrived around 2:00pm and our sales rep Mike Brucher was already at work getting the drums together...so far, so good! We had a few minor snags with the gear, but overall, everything was looking good and we were set-up and sound checked by 5:30, giving us 90 minutes before the clinic to chill out and grab something light to eat.
Tonight our friends from Tama (a major sponsor of the tour) Aaron Vishria and Happy Yoshida, Juels Thomas from Drum Workshop (also a sponsor) and renown Sports Medicine Doctor, Luga Podesta, came out to say hello and show their support for Jason. Also in attendance was Zildjian Regional Sales Manager, Steve Tirpak.
Jason was on fire right out the gate! Opening the night with tracks from Shadows Fall and his other band, Burning Human, he ignited the room with his playing. By the time he got to his drum solo section, he was totally locked-in, giving the audience one of the best (if not THE best) solos of the tour. He took some excellent questions from the audience and being such a great educator, he was able to clearly demonstrate his explanations.
After the clinic, he signed autographs and took photos with his fans, and we took a short walk down Santa Monica Blvd to a great local eatery before heading to our hotel at LAX. And wouldn't you know - Luga Podesta won the 16" Zildjian Crash that was the grand door prize!
As I write this blog on the flight from LA to Seattle, Jason is preparing for tonight's clinic. We're looking forward to seeing my old friend Donn Bennett and hope to see you there!
Day 7 - Sun., May 15 - Day Off in Los Angeles
After our long and hectic travel day, it was great to sleep in and relax a bit to prepare for the next big clinic at West LA Music on Monday. I called my good pal Vinnie Colaiuta, who happened to be in the neighborhood of our hotel, and said he'd love to drop by for a visit. I sent Jason a text letting him know that Vinnie would be stopping by, and to say he was looking forward to meeting him is a mild understatement! Vinnie arrived and we caught up for about 30 minutes when Jason arrived at our table and after a few minutes it was like they'd known each other for years. I told Jason later, "At Zildjian, we bring drummers together!" It was great that the timing worked out for Vinnie and Jason to meet and really made for a great day off.
Now it's back to work for Day 8, clinic # 6 at West LA Music...we're hoping to see a great crowd tonight and I'm happy to say that even though the Red Sox swept the Yankees, Jason and I are still friends!
Day 6 - Sat., May 14 - Travel Day to Los Angeles
The day started off great, especially since our flight wasn't too early, but thanks to a delay getting out of Wichita, we missed our connection in Denver (by a matter of minutes) so we had to get resourceful and found ourselves with a 3 hour layover and booked on a Frontier Airlines flight to LAX instead of Burbank. However, our bags made it on the flight to Burbank - without us! This meant changing the rental car pickup location and Jason called our good friend Gene Provencio and asked him to retrieve our bags in Burbank and meet us at our hotel.
We finally arrived in LA and made it to our hotel and there were several moments throughout the day that were truly from a movie! Through it all we had many laughs and the kind flight staff on Frontier Airlines took pity on us and took great care of us on the flight...
Day 5 - Fri., May 13 @ Midwest Drum & Percussion - Wichita, KS
Jason and I had a good feeling about Midwest Drums & Percussion in Wichita, KS, in spite of it being "Friday the 13th" and our instincts were correct: tonight's clinic was off the hook! First, a big shout out to Matt and everyone at the store for having the drums and sound so together!
As Jason was finishing sound check, I noticed a huge line queuing up outside, that went all the way around the corner! This was our fifth straight clinic and fifth straight day of early flights after late nights and Jason was running on pure adrenaline. But, when it was time to play, he more than delivered! After I introduced him to a standing room only crowd, and some back and forth banter about the Red Sox - Yankees game going on (he's a Yankees fan), he proceeded to floor the audience with another amazing performance.
There were several funny moments throughout the evening: first, when Jason handed out homemade cookies to the audience, given to him from photographer Chad Lee in Memphis. And his periodic updates on the Red Sox - Yankees game via his iPhone. Many laughs!
After the clinic, he signed autographs and posed for photos with all his fans, and also signed several of the cymbals that were sold from the drum kit he played on. After a great hang with the staff of Midwest Drums at a local eatery, we made our way back to our hotel, looking forward to a well-deserved day off/travel day on Saturday. A big thanks also to our local Zildjian rep, Tracy Dean, for taking such great care of us.
Day 4 - Thur., May 12th @ Memphis Drum Shop - Memphis, TN
We were psyched to get to Memphis, but were concerned about the flooding - the Mighty Mississippi had crested the day before we arrived, but thankfully we got the "all clear" that the clinic would go on! However, our thoughts and prayers continue to be with everyone in the south effected by the floods...
Memphis was hot and sunny...Memphis Drum Shop owner, Jim Pettit, picked Jason and I up at our hotel...When we arrived at the store, we were greeted by Jim's lovely wife Nancy, store manager Bill, and the rest of the MDS staff. If you've ever been to Memphis Drum Shop, you know you can't walk more than a few feet without stopping to take it all in. I've been to Memphis Drum several times and somehow Jim continues to improve upon perfection. He had lots of new things since my last visit a year ago.
The clinic was held in the concert soundstage upstairs in the store and our sales rep Chris Flatt (the guy who saved our lives on day 2 in Atlanta) had arrived before us and did a great job prepping the kit. Thanks to the great acoustics, sound check was under 10 minutes and Jason was able to do a couple of video promos for MyCymbal.com. My new nickname for him is "one take Bittner!"
Another fabulous clinic: awe-inspiring playing, informative and educational, with some humor thrown in too. After the meet & greet, we had dinner at a great Mexican restaurant walking distance from the store. Thanks to Jim and Nancy Pettit and the incredible staff at Memphis Drum Shop - looking forward to the next time! Now it's off to Midwest Drum & Percussion in Wichita, KS for day 5... Jason is really locked in after four clinics and is looking forward to putting on a great show for all his fans in Wichita!
Day 3 - Wed., May 11 @ Drum Headquarters - St. Louis
We arrived in St. Louis early afternoon and Jason and I actually had a couple of hours of down time at our hotel, which is always a good thing. Tonight's clinic was hosted by our good friends at Drum Headquarters and held at Webster University.
Tracy Dean, our sales rep, picked us up at the hotel and after a quick stop to re-fuel, we were ready to go! Jim Uding and the entire staff at Drum Headquarters are always professional and today was no different - it was great to arrive at the venue with the gear so together.
Another great turnout and I can honestly say that Jason is in the zone! His solos just keep getting better! Tonight's clinic had several added attractions - Shadows Fall singer Brian Fair came to hang out and stayed for the meet & greet, so fans were lucky enough to meet TWO members of Shadows Fall! Additionally, Jason had four percussion students from Webster University join him on stage for the finale, playing percussion. Kudos to Erin Elstner, Director of Percussion Studies at Webster University for organizing it and of course Jason for inviting them to play.
After a late hang at a local eatery, we headed back to the hotel... Now it's off to Memphis and we're looking forward to the clinic at Memphis Drum Shop and visiting this great city...
Day 2 - Tues., May 10 @ Ken Stanton Music - Marietta, GA
After the great start in Erie, PA, we were psyched to head to Marietta, just outside of Atlanta for the second clinic at Ken Stanton Music. Our local sales rep, Chris Flatt, picked us up at our hotel at the airport for the 45 minute drive to Marietta. Our drive was a bit of an adventure - one minute we're moving along at 65 mph and the next minute the traffic came to a complete stop and we narrowly avoided a major accident, thanks to the quick reflexes of Chris!
We made it safe and sound and Jeremy and the staff at Ken Stanton Music were fantastic - they had a beautiful Tama kit for Jason and we were set up and ready to go 30 mins before his scheduled start time of 8pm. Jason had told me earlier that his good friend Brann Dailor from Mastedon was coming tonight and sure enough he arrived just after sound check and stayed all night, right up until we left to go back to our hotel. A very cool guy!
We had another full house - over 100 people and some serious Metal fans! Jason really locked in tonight and played his butt off! For me, one of the true indicators of a successful clinic is when people come up to me afterward and say "thanks" for bringing "said" artist, which has been the case on these first two clinics. I think everyone stuck around for the meet & greet afterward, but Jason took time to talk and take pictures with all his fans...It was a late night!
And even as I write this on the plane from Atlanta to St. Louis for tonight's clinic, Jason is sitting next to me reviewing the video of last night's clinic...Now it's on to St. Louis, MO for day 3 at Webster University hosted by my old friends at Drum Headquarters...Jason tells me Brian Fair from Shadows Fall will be in the house! Hope to see you there!
Day 1 - Mon., May 9 @ World of Music - Erie, PA
Well, the big news back in March was Jason Bittner joining the Zildjian Family of Artists...and it's still big news! During his first visit to the Zildjian Factory, Jason and I thought what better way to spread the word about him playing Zildjian, than a spring clinic Tour across the US!
So, in case you missed it, on May 9th, Jason performed his first clinic as a Zildjian Artist at World Of Music in Erie, PA in front of a packed house of drummers and music enthusiasts. Of course there were plenty of Shadows Fall fans there, but Jason's clinic demonstrated his versatility in playing several styles of music and covered the full gamut, from blazing double bass drum work, to odd times, to practice exercises, to candid insight into what it takes to be a working musician.
His dedication to the instrument and professionalism is a true inspiration to his fans. In fact, as I write this on the plane from Erie to Atlanta for the next clinic, he's sitting next to me writing out practice exercises! He never stops!
Big props go to the excellent staff at World Of Music - especially the drum department manager Steve, and our Zildjian Sales Rep, Roger Jewell, for making our first clinic on the tour go so smoothly. Thanks guys!
Next stop...Ken Stanton Music in Marietta, GA...Jason and I hope to see you on the road!