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Celebrating 50

Drumming enthusiasts recently filled the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis for the Percussive Arts Society Annual Convention (PASIC). Held Nov. 10–12, 2011, the show attracted more than 5,100 attendees and celebrated the Percussive Arts Society's 50th anniversary.

"PASIC 2011 was the perfect close to a year of celebrating our first 50 years as the leading percussion organization in the world," said Michael Kenyon, the Percussive Arts Society's executive director. "Throughout PASIC, there was a terrific sense of camaraderie among performers, teachers and students."

Born in the U.S.A.
A sense of patriotism resonated throughout the halls of the convention center. Several exhibitors mentioned their U.S.-made products being the fastest movers in 2011.

"This has been one of the best years for American-made products," said Jim Catalano, director of marketing for Ludwig. "They are more popular than ever. With what is happening with the economy, it seems like everyone is feeling a little more Americana these days. Customers are much more discerning about what they are buying and where it is made."

John Palmer, product manager for Gretsch Drums, agreed and said he's seen a "return to patriotism."

"There is a lot of value in American brands for the American market," he said. "It feels good for Americans to buy something that is made by other Americans."

Accessorized & Handy
Small goods continued to be a strong seller this year, while suppliers reported higher-end instrument sales continuing to wane.

"Accessories are driving business right now," said Victor Filonovich, director of product management for Toca and Latin Percussion, which debuted a new line of egg shakers.

"I think because of the economy people aren't investing in bigger purchases. Instead, they are enhancing the sound they already have."

Musicians are also taking advantage of small goods to give their sound a makeover.

"The accessory market is strong because customers can create a whole new vibe to their music for just $20," said Brian LeVan, Remo's national sales manager.
Among the new accessories at the show, Ludwig rolled out a snare drum Heirloom Bag featuring blue and olive tones — the company's trademark colors in the 1960s and '70s. Toca also released a new djembe stand, which feeds into another strong trend: hand percussion.

Tony Lapsansky, business developer for Tycoon Percussion, said that while cajons have been popular since 2009, they continue to gain popularity every year.
"I think these [hand percussion] instruments are looked at as gateway instruments for drum set players," said Lapsansky, whose company unveiled its Vertex series cajon at the show. "They are really popular at bars and clubs, and a lot of bands have added them to their setups."

Gon Bops' U.S. Sales Manager Randy Chaisson said that hand percussion instruments, such as djembes and cajons, are in high demand because anyone can play them. Chaisson also noted their convenient size lets musicians easily carry them around to gigs.

"It is awesome for drummers because, like guitarists, they can now go into a gig with only one bag," he said.

And the craze doesn't stop there. Print music publishers have seen a rise in hand percussion print sales, as well.

Alfred has expanded its selection, which at one time included only a select number of titles, to an entire rack of just hand percussion books.

"It's so funny because we have turned around from seeing a lot of books for drum sets to seeing a lot for hand percussion," said Dave Black, vice president of school & church publishing for Alfred.

"It is now by far the fastest growing category for us, and we have devoted a whole rack to the segment." MI