Jean-Denis Beaudoin, owner of Ayotte Drums, has been spotted at the Montreal Drum Fest 2013 hanging with founder Ray Ayotte. The truth is out!

Photos don’t lie and there’s no funny stuff in this monochrome gem I shot Sunday. The smiles reflect the exhilaration that flows with the news of the return of a rightful king.

Ayotte duo steps out of shadows into the light Ayotte duo steps out of shadows into the light

I had an important gig Saturday, day-1 of the Montreal Drum Fest and thus missed Colin Bailey and several others I’d written about when I drafted the glossy program brochure artist bios. But my colleague Wayne Eagles assumed driving chores and the task of spotting appropriate coffee stations along the 2-hour drive along the open highway. With a surname like his, you just know he’s going to cast an eye on a Tim Hortons faster than you can say “drone”. We arrived in Montreal, me in time to convene with Ralph Angelillo, then spend quality time with Ray Ayotte and Jean-Denis Beaudoin. And Wayne hung with Billy Kilson, whom he’d hired for his own album session.

 This was fun. Or maybe I simply don’t get out like I used to…… To me, and to others in the industry, the partnering of JD and Ray did not go unnoticed.

 Guess who has reserved a booth at winter NAMM 2014, scant months ahead? That’s right. Ayotte Drums will hit the LAX tarmac January and sprout up a booth in Anaheim. The buzz has already begun like low-grade tinnitus.  Come NAMM it’ll be deafening. This is understandable. I mean, this is no Hollywood Drums, good, and artsy, drums if a little flimsy, which have vanished from the face of the earth.

 No, these are Ayotte drums: serious drums  no matter if you clobber or stroke gently. And they have not shown their face at the world’s preeminent musical instrument trade fair in over 15-years.

 Back in Montreal present-day minus-two, Ray and JD were in their element. I hadn’t seen Ray in a dog’s age. Lookin’ good, Ray, tanned and hair that was more platinum than white under house lights. JD is the student, obviously more youthful but possessed of a savvy beyond his years. Sharp as a tack, he’s already a veteran in several areas of competence that will push he, Ray, and Ayotte Drums over the top.

 Funny that, in the absence of teleprompters or email questions sent in-advance, the two were frighteningly in unison on many issues. They are a tag team from drum heaven. They are devoted to the crafting of drums that allow you to get your sound with minimal effort when you strike your way. If you’ve played drums for a few years, you’ll know what it is to wrestle with a cantankerous instrument wherein you’re continuously exploring new angles and avenues—just to get them to speak clearly, forget about making music. In a word, the essence of the Ayotte experience is this: You don’t have to worry about moving-mountains. We’ve done our job on every square inch of these drums such that yours will be effortless.

 Veteran Ayotte owners need not worry about backwards compatibility. If a 1980s original tom bracket, for example, gets replaced by something a little tweaked, you should rest assured that the holes drilled into your shell are known to Ayotte. The new bracket is going to fit slam-dunk in the old holes. You won’t have to drill extras, nor will you experience the frustration of covering only some of the old holes. What do you do with the extras: holes to nowhere?

Already mapped out and taken into consideration.

 More on the new Ayotte drums soon. I’m transcribing an interview with DJ and Ray as we speak. It is the language of prudence and innovation—when required—and not institutionalized cleverness for its own sake.

Has anybody ever grappled with a 1960s Hayman tom holder? Maybe had to go get the gash stitched up for your efforts? Case in point. Tbw 10-20