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Wes Crawford - Drumset Play-AlongWes Crawford's
Drumset Play-Along
(DVD/CD) - $29.99

Put yourself in the drummer's seat and play-along with the virtual experience of the exciting life of a working drummer in a band.

This DVD/CD set features 10 original songs (by Gary Rosensweig) in a variety of popular styles, and features keyboardist Derek Wille, guitarist Alvin White and world-class bassist Gary Grainger.

The basic idea with this DVD is that you are playing in a Pop band, working in a number of gig situations such as a band audition, various nightclubs, and wedding party, a beach party, a concert arena, and a recording studio. Half of the songs are instrumental and the other half are with vocals. The camera angle throughout the DVD is from the drummer's perspective, so it always looks like you are behind the drumkit, allowing the drummer to feel like he's in an real band. The DVD directions state that you are supposed to set-up your DVD and TV monitor in front of your drumkit, and wear headphones as you watch and play-along with the band. You have the three options to choose from when playing along; with pre-recorded drums, without the pre-recorded drums, or with click and Wes' coaching commentary without the pre-recorded drums. Prior to each tune, Wes also explains and sets up the gig situation for each song to enhance the virtual experience.

In addition to the DVD, a play-along CD of all 10 songs is provided and includes tracks with and without the drums. You can also download charts for each tune from Wes Crawford's website.

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Overall I think this is a good teaching/learning aid for drummers who have never played in a real (gigging) band situation before ... especially with professional musicians. It's more than just playing along to some music since there's visual stimulation coming from each virtual senario.

I do want to mention that I personally found the vocals to be too hot in the mix on both the DVD and CD. As a drummer, too much vocals in my monitor can be very irritating. With a play-along product like this, I would have preferred more of a "radio mix", giving the drummer the ability to lock in more with the other instruments ... namely the bass. I wasn't too crazy about having to go through Wes' introductions for every song, every time ... which was the case regardless of whether I chose to play with or without the pre-recorded drums. The downloadable "charts" are more like basic drum transcriptions, perfect for a beginner drummer, but not much help to someone who wants to learn to read a Rhythm chart and make up their own parts. Being that the charts are downloaded and not included with the actual DVD/CD package, perhaps additional charts could be added ... like basic Rhythm charts. Lastly, although the camera angle with the superimposed Toms and Cymbals is kind unique, I don't fully understand the real purpose. If the student has the TV monitor set-up in front of their drumkit, they now have there own kit in front in view as well as the superimposed kit on the TV screen. Now it looks like you're behind two drumkits!

All in all, this is a fun (and practical) educational package for the student with little or no playing experience. Even if they are not interested in the tongue-in-cheek approach found in the DVD, they'll find great benefit from the play-along CD which is included. You probably won't hear any of these tunes on the radio, and some may find the songs a bit cheesy, there's still a lot to be gained with this product. It's not everyone day that a student get's to play with top-notch musicians.

For the drummer with minimal performance experience, whether self-taught or studying with a private drum instructor, I recommend that you pick-up Wes Crawford's Drumset Play-Along DVD/CD. And even if you have a lot of playing experience, you just might enjoy grooving with Gary Grainger!