is currently traveling on the Zildjian European Clinic Tour. Here, Zildjian's own Tina Clarke (International Artist Relations Manager) and Bob Wiczling (International Marketing Manager) will keep you up to date with photos from the road, updates, videos, and more. For a full list of dates, you can go here.
Check out the Clinic Tour Slide Show - with photos added daily by going here or clicking on the image below:
THURSDAY, 29 SEPTEMBER - ROSTOV ON DON, RUSSIA
So here we are Date 10 and our final destination, Rostov on Don, Russia.
It's a 3 hour drive cross country with our travel companions, Dimitri, Max, and Alex from our distributors AT Trade. Rostov is a large city situated on the river Don. After stopping by the local Mustorg store, hosts for tonight's clinic, we head to the venue, Rostov's "Underground" club, a local band venue.
It's always good to be able to end the tour on a high and we could not have asked for more from this clinic. The club was packed with a crowd that were cheering Jason on right from the start.
Metal is big in Russia and tonight's drum fans appreciated every second as Jason tore through his routine. There were non stop questions that surely would have gone on all night if we were not limited on time. Jason was totally energized by the crowd and offered them some bonus tracks at the end of his set. Its not often you see people in a clinic dancing, headbanging and one guy doing a "windmill," this felt as much of a concert as a clinic.
Needless to say the signing session was crazy, they loved Jason!!
Thanks to Natalia and all the team at Mustorg as well as to Teymur and Nata and all at AT Trade for a great stay in Russia.
A massive thanks of course to Jason himself, an amazing player and a great guy to travel with!!
Until next time,
WEDNESDAY 28 SEPTEMBER - KRASNODAR, RUSSIA
It was quite a travel day yesterday. Out of the hotel by 5 am than a flight to Munich, flight to Warsaw, and than finally a flight to our clinic destination, Krasnodar, Russia.
Despite the lack of sleep, Jason is in good spirits. Krasnodar is in the south west of Russia, just left of the Caspian Sea. This is definitely new territory for Zildjian clinics, although we have had one as far out as Novosibirsk, Siberia with Kenny Aronoff
a couple of years back.
Russia is an interesting place and you never know quite what to expect. We are in the store called Muztorg
by 10 am for set up. Muztorg are the biggest music store chain in Russia. It's a smooth set up, our distributor A&T Trade
have provided all perfectly.
As soon as the kit is set, we head out to Hit.fm, one of Russia's biggest radio broadcasters, for an interview with Jason. Then it's back to the store, finalize the sound, and then a quick traditional Russian lunch before a press conference with over 20 journalists and camera crews from Press, TV, and web publications.
It's amazing Jason has any energy left after all the activities today, but there's a big turnout for the show and the crowd love him. Jason rewards them with a powerhouse of a clinic!!!!
It's quite a signing session to close off the day, Jason has definitely made a large number of new Russian friends today!
MONDAY 26 SEPTEMBER - POZNAN, POLAND
The day starts with our flight on a twin turbo prop to Poznan. The destination is Music Store Poznan
in the North of Poland. Its a beautiful old town, a very popular tourist destination. The kits gone ahead of us by road; having the same kit makes set up and sound check a much faster affair.
With Poland now firmly part of Europe, most of the audience understand English so no need for a translator.
A big part of Jason's clinic is educational and he distributes printed scores with practice techniques to go through. He also takes time to carefully explain the connection between which parts of his legs, calves and ankles he focuses on as his bass drum pedal speeds increase. Interestingly too, he demonstrates his two minute warm up techniques incorporating the simple use of brushes. It's all information soaked up with great enthusiasm by the audience.
No rest for Jason as after the clinic he takes on two interviews from Poland's top percussion magazines, Perkusista
and Top Drummer
Then it's dinner and back to the hotel, 4.30 am wake up call tomorrow and a long flight to Russia!
SUNDAY 25 SEPTEMBER - WARSAW, POLAND Riff Music Store
is venue 7 of the tour. Riff are one of the biggest music retail chains in Poland and their Warsaw branch house full stage production facilities and a great clinic venue.
Jason is storming tonight and his solo really takes off. There is so much variation throughout, from demon double bass patterns alternating with double hihats , from Latin through to that most recognizable of Jazz patterns from the instrumental "Take 5."
Question time is great with non-stop asks from the audience all keen to tap into Jason's technique. After the show Jason hooks up with top Polish drummer, Piotr Pniak, before heading out for a well earned dinner!
SATURDAY 24 SEPTEMBER 2011 (PART 2) - MILAN, ITALY
So it's the official hand over day as Tina sends Jason onto his next date in Milan.
I hook up with Jason, accompanied by Mauro and Stefano from our distributors, Mogar
, at Carousel 1 in Milan Airport - our flights touch down within 5 minutes of each other.
No respite today as it's an early show, so we head straight to Milan's only fully dedicated drum store - Percussion Village
. It's a great store, encompassing teaching studios and a full on clinic room that is the venue for today's show.
The crowd are extremely warm and welcoming as Jason fires straight into his first track "My Demise" from the Shadows Fall album Retribution
immediately followed by "Thoughts without words" off the Balance
album, the album that won the band a Kerrang Award for "Best Underground Act" back in 2002.
It's a blasting set!!! The audience love it and have a lot of questions to ask.
Post show what else would you do other than enjoy some great Italian food!!! Made even more special as we are joined by one of Italy's busiest drummers, Zildjian artist Roberto Gualdi
. Robert played in Milan last night with his band PFM currently touring Italy backed by a 60 piece orchestra!!
Many thanks to John Franco, Fabrizio, and the team from Percussion Village, and Mauro & Stefano for a great day in Milan.
SATURDAY 24 SEPTEMBER 2011 (PART 1)
Today is official "hand-over day," meaning I finish the tour here and head home. Zildjian’s Bob Wiczling will then meet Jason in Milan to take over the rest of the tour, which encompasses Poland and Russia.
Mauro and Stefano meet Jason at the hotel and they head off to the airport for their flight to Milan…I wave them off... safe onward travels. Good luck!
Tina Clarke - International Artist Relations Manager.
FRIDAY 23 SEPTEMBER - NAPLES, ITALY
It's a hot, hot day and we leave the hotel to battle our way through the crazy traffic to the venue, Acustica
. Passing the Napoli Football Stadium en route, we arrive at the venue which is about half an hour on the outskirts of the city. The store's setting is between mountains and vineyards - very typical.
Mauro Antonazzi and Stefano Xotta, from our Distributors in Italy – Mogar Music
- join us, they have flown in from their home town of Milan this morning.
Set-up and sound-check today is a breeze, we're using one bass drum today, but the kit sounds great!
We're done in plenty of time which enables us to film some more video for the Z website, this interview with Jason talks about his approach to drumming, the styles of music he enjoys playing, and for Shadows Fall fans, there’s the chance to see some exciting footage of Jason demonstrating some ideas for the new Shadows Fall record.
Jason then meets up with a journalist from Chitarre/riTmi
magazine for an interview, which will also be featured on www.accordo.it
Jason goes straight for the crowds heart tonight by wearing an Italia t-shirt! His grandparents are Italian, so he's feeling at home. Show time and it's a good crowd, with questions coming a plenty. Tonight’s the first time that we are using an interpreter, thanks to Stefano, but Jason is still aptly able to demonstrate his double-bass techniques, which many of the questions revolve around, albeit “Just how do you play that fast?!?” Jason once again covers the cymbals he is using on this tour, that he will probably use to record the new Shadows Fall album, which are (left to right from behind the kit): 21" Z3 Mega Bell Ride 17" K China 18" K Dark Medium Thin Crash 14" A Custom Mastersound Hi Hats 8" A Custom Splash 17" A Custom Medium Crash 10" A Custom Splash 13" A Custom Mastersound Hi Hats 18" Oriental China 10" ZHT Mini Hi Hat
The signing session tonight takes some time as everyone wants to have an autograph and photo with Jason, and there are some very happy faces around on the winners of the raffle prizes. As soon as the signing session is done, we head out for dinner with Leonardo (Acustica’s owner) and the staff, including Mauro, Stefano and Sylvie, from Mogar Music – it’s a great restaurant serving traditional Napoli pizza...well, when in Naples!!
Thank you Leo, all the Acustica staff, Mauro, Stefano and Sylvie from Mogar for your help today.
THURSDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 2011
Today's my Birthday and I wake up with a view of the sun rising over Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc in the distance - breathtakingly serene. Unfortunately there’s no time to take in the clean mountain air as Yves Tieche (Zildjian’s Regional Sales Manager - Europe) meets us early at the hotel and we head straight to the airport en route to Naples, Italy.
We arrive early afternoon in country number five, that’s five countries in five days now! Naples is hot and sunny and we’ve got the rest of the day off - great! Having performed four clinics in a row, with traveling in the mornings, Jason is definitely looking forward to a night off, me too actually!
However, before we enjoy the afternoon, there is just one more task to do, we head to the hotel’s roof terrace, which overlooks the cruise liners in port and Mount Vesuvius in the background, to film an interview with Jason. Look out for this soon on Zildjian.com
OK, with that done Jason heads off to explore the city…I head off to my room to catch up with emails. We meet up in the evening for a great dinner down by the ocean front. Some tasty lobster risotto and linguine, washed down by the local red wine and aptly night-capped with Lemonchello!
WEDNESDAY 21 SEPTEMBER 2011 - SWITZERLAND
An early wake up and it’s off to Schipol Airport, Amsterdam for our flight to Geneva, Switzerland.
We are met at the airport by Serge Olar, from our Distributor in Switzerland Music Olar. Serge squeezes our luggage into the van, (as we also have the two double basses, toms, hardware, cymbals, promo material, etc. with us), and takes us straight to our hotel in the very pretty town of Morges. Breath-taking views of Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc greet us, but sadly there is no time to enjoy these as we drop our bags and head straight to the venue, which is just a five minute ride away.
Today the Clinic is at Boullard Musique SA
, Morges, a great store owned by Mr Alain Boullard (pictured with Serge Olar, Jason and myself).
The set-up is steadily accomplished today, as we are good for time, which makes for a stress-free sound check.
Jason is asking everyone not to film/audio the Clinics as he is recording everything for a potential DVD release. So even if we are not coming to a country near you, you’ll be able to enjoy the Clinic when it’s released on DVD. I’m sure Jason will tell you more about this nearer the time.
Tonight’s audience of around 100 people are very enthused with the Clinic. There are plenty of questions, some good ones too, about what advice would Jason give to left-handed players starting out (being a lefty himself) and how to build the core strength to be able to play as he does. The Clinic hits the two hour mark in no time at all and still the audience are wanting more.
Thank you to Serge, Alain, Alan, and John (our sound guys), and all the staff at Boullard for your hospitality.
After the autograph session, we grab a quick bite to eat and head back to the hotel, ready for another early wake-up call in the morning.
Tomorrow is a travel day/day off so hopefully the sun is shining in Naples and we can enjoy some rest and relaxation. I know Jason is looking forward to taking a breather after four consecutive days of traveling and clinics. I’m going to try and catch up on emails, which could take some time!
Until next time,
TUESDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2011 - ROTTERDAM @ Feedback Muziek Rotterdam
Luxury, a leisurely morning…well as leisurely as life on the road can be, when trying to deal with normal business away from home. We were met at noon by Jeroen Bakx from Hoshino (our Benelux Distributors) and jumped in the car ready for our journey to Rotterdam.
We stopped off in Rotterdam for some lunch. It was very nice, and made a pleasant change, as it’s the first time in three days that Jason and I have actually sat down to eat together. It’s always a matter of grabbing something when you can when doing these types of Clinic Tours.
Feedback in Rotterdam is a great store and tonight’s clinic is being held in their live room. We’re using the kit from last night, so with everything pretty much all in place, the set-up takes just 40 minutes and sound check a further 15 minutes, then we’re all set – record time!
Before the show Jason has time for two interviews, one with Slagwerkkrant
and the other with Feedback’s own publication, Feedback Magazine
Jason had an old friend in the crowd tonight, a touring buddy from a few years back named Ed. Whether it was that, or the warm reception from the audience, Jason put on a great show and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
Thank you to Johan van den Berg (Store Manager), Stefan Jeanson (Drum Department) and all the staff at Feedback for their hospitality. Many thanks also to Kohki Hoshino, who was there tonight, and Jereon Bakx for all your help today.
After the signing session, we hit the road straight away, this time to Amsterdam and our "home" for the night. We arrive at our hotel to be told that they’ve overbooked and we can’t stay there…it’s gone midnight, that’s not what you want to hear. We move to another city hotel, close to all the Amsterdam action, and hit our beds. I’m on the ground floor, canal level - it’s almost 2.00am and there are "party boats" going by…as for Jason, I hope he’s still in his room and able to be up bright ‘n early to meet me tomorrow (later this morning) ready for our flight to Switzerland.
MONDAY 19 SEPTEMBER 2011 – Brussels
The 4.00am wake-up came all too early and by 5.15am we were at the airport, all checked-in, through security and ready to see Brussels.
Brussels is such a pretty town, it’s the capital city of Belgium and one of the most famous historical cities in the world. The Grand Place is one of the most stunning town squares in Europe, boasting intricate and beautiful architecture from the late 17th Century. More importantly, maybe for some, the city is also renowned for its popular beers, breweries, and beer festivals…and for the ladies (or should I say me), the Belgium chocolates!
We manage to grab some precious time at the hotel to check e-mails and prepare for the evening ahead, before setting off for Adams
The traffic around Brussels en-route to Hasselt was bumper to bumper, what should have been an easy 50 minutes journey turned into almost 2 hours! So arriving at the venue, it was all hands on deck to get set-up and sound checked ready for show-time...a bit of a rush, but we made it.
The crowd tonight was far more intimate and this gave Jason the opportunity to run over his sheet music in greater depth and talk through the different approaches to using different styles of music, like jazz and samba, on the double bass drums.
A quick drink at the bar for Jason with an old friend he toured with way back when and it was back in the car heading back to the hotel…tomorrow - Rotterdam, here we come!
Thanks to Jo Moen (Hoshino Benelux) for taking care of us today, Rui for helping with the kit, Mark and all the staff from Adams for your hospitality.
SUNDAY 18 SEPTMBER 2011 – DUBLIN, IRELAND
First day of the Jason Bittner European Clinic Tour...I arrive in Dublin early afternoon expecting to meet Jason and Ronan O’Reilly (from X Music) in the hotel lobby...but where are they? A few phone calls later and it appears there are a few sore heads around today. It later transpires that Jason was welcomed to Dublin by the X Music staff in the ‘traditional Saturday night in Dublin’ way, with plenty of the "black stuff" (aka Guinness), an Indian meal, trawl around the metal music bars, and then finally rounded off with a 3am trip to Burger King - male bonding I think they call it!
Nonetheless, we soon head over to X Music, Dublin, just a short ride from the hotel. X Music is a fairly new store in Dublin, it’s huge and pristinely presented. The building also houses the X Music Academy, a school for contemporary music education, and it was lovely to see fellow Zildjian Artist and director of the Academy, Conor Guilfoyle
, there tonight. At the Clinic I also manage to catch up with my old friend and Z Artist, Graham Hopkins
, who was gearing up for a trip to England to join Snow Patrol’s
performance, alongside Johnny Quinn, on the UK’s "Jools Holland" TV Show on Tuesday night.
X Music have a purpose built room, with stage and lighting, to hold such Clinics as tonight’s and we arrive to find everything in order, (thanks to Marty for the loan of the kit). Jason takes the task in hand and in no time at all the kit is set-up and sound check is complete.
It’s interesting to see how different drummer’s cope with not playing their own drum set and being faced with the challenges of making things work with equipment they might not be familiar. I think it’s the sign of a true pro who remains calm, relaxed, and is able to get a great sound out of such circumstances. Jason really excelled in tonight’s "new office," the kit sounded great and Jason looked right at home.
The Clinic was fast and furious, of course by that I am referring to Jason’s bass drum petal skills! There were over 100 people in tonight’s audience, including competition winners from Ireland’s Class Rock Show and also from Metal Ireland. The crowd were predominately young metal fans, including lots of Shadows Fall fans, so they loved Jason talking about his approach to writing and playing with that band...sshhh...they were even treated to a sneak preview of one of the new tracks!
I think everyone stuck around for autographs and photographs after the show, and Jason was adamant that he would meet everyone – including Miss E Baxter
, who was the lucky raffle prize winner of tonight’s 17” A Custom Medium Crash
. It’s good to see more females playing drums, particularly heavy metal/rock music.
Thanks to Lesley Kane (KMI) and all the X-Music staff, including Ronan O’Reilly and John Healy for taking such good care of us.
Now the worst part of the day, ordering the 4.00am wake-up call for Monday’s mornings flight to Brussels. Ouch, that is going to hurt!