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August 17, 2014

Drum roll, please: Paderborn drum expert will bring workshop, concert to Belleville

A well-connected German drummer has landed on his feet after losing the star performer for a concert he is co-producing in Belleville.

The Chester Thompson Trio was set to perform and lead a drum workshop Aug. 26 at Belleville Philharmonic Hall. But Thompson, who also plays with Phil Collins, canceled on Thursday after being called in for a last-minute rehearsal with Collins in Europe.

Uli Frost, of Paderborn, Germany, had been planning the Belleville event since January with Garrett Peek, owner of Melodic Rhythms music schools in Belleville and Breese.

"I was very shocked," said Frost, 43, who also organizes an international percussion festival in Paderborn, Belleville's sister city.

"Chester and I are close friends. We were both very shocked. But what can you do? You can't complain. My view is, 'Don't think of problems. Think of solutions.'"

Frost spent the next 24 hours reaching out to his contacts in the drum world. He managed to get two other well-known drummers, Gerry Brown and Leon Ndugu Chancler, to work the Belleville gig.

They will join bassist Michael Rinne and piano player Joe Davidian of the Nashville-based Chester Thompson Trio to form a quartet.

"We lost a legendary drummer, but we've replaced him with two drummers who are legendary," said Peek, 33, of O'Fallon.

Chancler is considered one of the top drummers in the world, working with big names in funk, jazz, rock, pop and fusion for more than 40 years.

He toured with Santana in the 1970s and appeared on "Thriller," Michael Jackson's best-selling album of all time.

"Gerry Brown has been the drummer for Stevie Wonder's band for a long time, and he's currently on tour with Diana Ross," Peek said. "He has played with Prince, and he's one of the best producers in the music industry (for such artists as Whitney Houston and Alicia Keys)."

Frost has been playing drums since age 3. He toured Europe, Canada and the United States with his sister and two brothers in a folk band called The Frosties in the 1980s.

Today, Frost is an expert in drum tuning, modification and recording, so he will help lead the Belleville workshop.

"I will show the students how to get the best sound out of the drums and how to prepare a drumset for recording work," he said. "This includes modification and drum tuning.

"Also, I will (give) them an overview about microphone position and microphone technology. I will combine this with the experience of those studio legends like Gerry Brown and Ndugu Chancler."

Frost founded the Drums 'n' Percussion Paderborn festival in 2001. It's held every two years, attracting drummers from all over the world.

By day, Frost has worked 24 years for the City of Paderborn. He came up with the idea of a Belleville concert after finding out the city is celebrating its 200th anniversary. He saw it as an opportunity for cultural exchange between sister cities.

"Music is a universal language," Frost said. "And it's very good to connect with other musicians, to learn from each other. And in Paderborn, we have a connection with all these international drummers through our Drum 'n' Percussion festival."

The Belleville event is co-sponsored by Belleville Sister Cities and Paderborn Sister City Society.

Peek sees it as a great opportunity for drummers in the region. He noted that Drum Headquarters in St. Louis, which used to offer drum clinics, is no longer in business.

Peek also is looking forward to meeting Frost, who will arrive in Belleville on Saturday with his wife, Beate.

"This is my first time in Belleville," said Frost, who speaks English with a strong German accent. "I'm really excited about it."

The drum workshop will start at 5 p.m. Aug. 26, followed by the concert at 8:30 p.m. at Belleville Philharmonic Hall. About 150 tickets are being sold. They cost $20 for each activity or $35 for both.

"We've had quite a few sales of both and quite a few sales of one or the other," Peek said.

Also on Aug. 26, Frost will release a limited-edition CD (500 copies) by the Chester Thompson Trio in honor of Belleville's bicentennial. It's a live recording from last year's Drum 'n' Percussion Paderborn.

"This kind of event is not only for drummers," Frost said. "We are making music. Everyone is invited."

At a glance

What: Chester Thompson Trio concert and drum workshop (with Gerry Brown and Leon Ndugu Chancler)

When: 5 p.m. for the workshop (doors open at 4:30) and 8:30 p.m. for the concert (doors open at 8) on Aug. 26

Where: Belleville Philharmonic Hall, 116 N. Jackson St. in Belleville

Cost: $20 for the workshop, $20 for the concert or $35 for both

Tickets: Available at Melodic Rhythms, 110 N. High St. in Belleville

Information: Call 618-233-0659, visit melodicrhythms.com or email contact@melodicrhythms.com

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