This weekend I got invited to the famous Meinl Drum Festival in Germany. Since I’ve been working on ships for the past couple of years, I’ve never been around to attend any of these events. But this year I got invited by Meinl and I was super excited to finally experience the festival.
The hotel was already expecting me when I arrived. I realized that it was going to be an awesome weekend when the concierge handed me a Meinl chocolate. After a few beers with some guys from Meinl I went to bed. Saturday morning a driver picked me up and drove me to the Festival. The Meinl complex is on the Musik-Meinl-Str. Yes, they even have their very own street! The place was packed with musicians from 27 nationalities of every continent. You could feel the positive vibe as you walked in.
Benny Greb was the first one to play. He got a standing ovation. What an emotional moment. The festival continued and drummer after drummer performed. Meinl offered factory tours, drum circles, merchandise stands and a show room with all of their current lineup. Paradise.
I don’t want to make this a report or review of the Meinl Drum Festival as you’ll be able to read that in all your drumming magazine subscriptions and in other forums. I rather want to talk about something I learned this weekend. A realization that struck me. An idea that I had often discussed and thought about but never really realized.
Our Heroes Are People Like You And I
I don’t know about you, but pretty much all of the performers at the Meinl Drum Festival are my heroes. At the festival they were strolling around as if they were normal people. They were talking to people, talking to me, taking pictures, laughing. They were acting like normal people. Up until that moment Benny Greb & Co. were drummers to me; heroes of inhuman musicality and drumming skill.
I met Anika Nilles when she was just walking around at the festival with her backpack on looking like a quiet student at a university. Anika and I had a quick chat, she's super nice. But man, she's so shy. Wouldn’t you think that someone with her skill would have a huge extroverted ego??
After the shows finished the performers offered a signature session, where they had to sit through hundreds of drummers after having had a long ass day of performances, interviews, talks and photo shoots. I was one of the last ones to stand in line, and thanked every drummer who signed and still had the patience to talk to me even for just a few seconds.
When I got to talk to Chris Coleman, he shocked me with his humble and funny attitude. I thought this was a show that he put on when he was onstage. But only after a few seconds into our conversation I realized that he was not putting on a show. He's just a genuinely nice person.
At the end of the signatures table was Benny Greb, super busy talking to all his fans and trying to hear everybody’s stories. We greeted each other and when we were about to start a conversation he got interrupted by other fans and had to talk to them. When he turned around again so he could focus on our conversation he first thanked me for my patience. He thanked me for having waited ten seconds. He has been there all day enduring hundreds of drummers' questions, and he thanked me for waiting ten seconds? That really shocked me, what a nice person.
All these little moments reminded me that these drummers are also people. People with characters with good and bad qualities. It’s an important thing to remind yourself of every now and then. Knowing that these drummers are beings just like you and me can be huge motivation. Imagine, we could be like them!
I had a great weekend at the Meinl Drum Festival. I got to talk to many visitors, I drank beer with Meinl representatives, handed out my business cards and got to talk to and meet with some of the best drummers in the world.
I want to thank Meinl for not turning these drummers into Rockstars. I like Meinl's attitude towards their endorsees, their fans and their products. I’d like to thank Anika Nilles, Chris Coleman and Benny Greb for showing the drumming community how to be a musician without having to be Rockstar.
Keep it up and I hope to see you soon.