I'm fresh back from my travels in the USA and a week to decompress and to get back into the flow, here's a comparison of cymbals from most of the cymbalsmiths present at the Chicago Drum Show. I say "most" because, as Steve points out in the video, I didn't run a booth this year and therefore had no bronze with me. Next year though! Steve was kind enough to invite a few of us to his shop in Chicago where myself, Matt Nolan and Ryan of Hayden Custom Cymbals got to check out his hammering and lathing setup. Cheers to Steve!
The Chicago Drum Show was honestly a very emotional and hugely positive experience. Firstly I was honoured to be invited to stand among such distinguished company, and I'll be posting more about that soon. But to see something like 13 or 14 cymbalsmiths together in one room was a real eye-opener and reality check. This is really happening!
Never before has there been a movement like this, and what really struck me was how none of us was attempting to dominate or grasp attention from any of the others. I lost count of how many times I heard a cymbalsmith say "Make sure you check out everyone else too!". How rare to see a growing industry being so supportive and sharing. It's truly given me a renewed sense of motivation, energy and momentum.
As I was coming in to Chicago on my storm-delayed flight (big thanks to Ryan Hayden for collecting me from the airport at 2am and giving me a place to stay for a few nights), I was thinking about the fact that there would be so many cymbals available to play from a range of cymbal makers, and wondering a little nervously if they'd all sound kind of the same. That's not to say I didn't think all the cymbals would be stuffed with character and beauty, but I started to ask myself if these nuances and subtleties I like to talk about would actually present themselves in the flesh.
On the first day I walked around and tried cymbals from each, and I was blown away by how each smith's cymbals had a character all their own. Even within a vast range of cymbals by each maker, there was definitely something uniquely theirs in the sound. This fact just elevated me further. (Also shout out to Mike Mongiello and the cymbal I fell in love with. Not sure how to describe it, but he'll know which one I mean, it was my perfect cymbal!)
All these things aside, getting to meet folk in person, finally, was a joy! Hanging out together gave me a lasting sense of having made friends for life. Anyone reading this who I had the pleasure of meeting in New York, Oklahoma, Chicago and Texas - truly I look forward to our continued friendship and collaborations in bronze.