And the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp Winner is…Wes Faulconer of Explorers Percussion
At the 2013 Winter NAMM Show, Roland Corporation U.S. invited its valued dealers to enter a drawing for the opportunity to attend an all-expenses-paid weekend retreat at the Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp in Las Vegas. Wes Faulconor, the owner of Explorers Percussion in Kansas City, Missouri, had his name drawn randomly from the many entrants, winning a three-day experience at the camp’s permanent home near the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino on the Vegas Strip. From March 7-9, 2013, Wes enjoyed a jam-packed schedule of rehearsals, performances, recording sessions, and clinics, topped off with the chance to drum with legendary rockers Sammy Hagar and Steve Vai.
Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp in Las Vegas provides musicians and music fans a unique opportunity to jam with renowned rock stars, write and record original songs, and perform live before large audiences at Rouge, a lounge in the MGM Grand. Campers get to play pro gear from Roland and BOSS during their stay, including TD-30KV and TD-15KV V-Drums kits, the RD-700NX stage piano, GA-series guitar amps, ME-70 guitar effects, and more.
Wes is a lifelong drummer and percussionist with over 40 years experience, and he plays some piano and guitar as well. He opened Explorers Percussion in 1984, which quickly became one of the leading drum and percussion shops in the Kansas City metro area. Explorers carries a full line of major brands, including the electronic percussion lineup from Roland. They also offer educational events, private drum lessons, and regular drum clinics led by national and local artists.
Quickly after arriving at the camp, Wes was put together in a group with three guitarists, with one of the guitarists also handling lead vocal duties. Michael Lardie, a multi-instrumentalist who plays with Great White and Night Ranger, served as camp counselor for the group, and played bass and sang backup as well.
During their three-day stay, Wes’ band—calling themselves the Mob Dawgs—wrote an original song, worked up a selection of cover tunes, and performed every night alongside other campers’ groups at the Rouge. “Everybody played different orders every night,” says Wes. “We were one of the most natural bands that were there, I think. There was a big NASCAR race in Las Vegas that weekend. There were a lot of fans there to see that, and the club was always packed.” Rouge features a top-flight sound system with gear from Roland Systems Group, including the M-300 V-Mixer and a REAC Digital Snake setup. Pro roadies are also on hand to help the campers as they perform. “They were really on it,” says Wes. “They were at the ready to assist everybody, such as adjusting drums and swapping out guitars when someone broke a string.”
Throughout the weekend, Wes and the campers got to hobnob with many famous players. “Joe Vitale was there, and Billy Sheehan was there too,” he relates. “That was pretty cool. Lita Ford and Tony Franklin came in as well. On Friday, Sammy Hagar came in. Each band got to go in and play one song with him. We learned one of his songs, ‘I’ll Fall in Love Again,’ within about an hour. That was a little bit of pressure, but it worked out pretty good. We jammed with him, and it was a lot of fun.
“On Saturday, it was the same thing with Steve Vai,” Wes continues. “Everybody played a song with him. After that, he jammed with Billy Sheehan and Joe Vitale, and he did a little clinic where he talked for about an hour. His clinic was really inspirational.”
Wes and his group also got to record their original song at one of the camp’s two studios in the MGM Grand, which are outfitted with Cakewalk’s SONAR X2 DAW software and Roland’s OCTA-CAPTURE audio interfaces, plus V-Mixers, Digital Snakes, and M-48 personal monitoring systems from Roland Systems Group. The band’s guitarists tracked with BOSS ME-70 guitar effects, while Wes played the flagship TD-30KV V-Drums. “They were great, with lot of nice sounds,” Wes relates. “I really like the new features and the sensitivity, which allows your drumming to be more expressive, just like on an acoustic drum kit. It was really nice. We recorded really quickly, and got a great sound. The Roland and BOSS guitar gear sounded really, really good too.”
Overall, Wes simply had a great time. “It was a real positive experience, and first-class all the way,” he says. “I really thank Roland for giving me the opportunity. I feel lucky and really grateful that I won it. I went out there without any agenda or high goals; I just played as good as I can play, and just gave it all I had. I wanted to make it more like a vacation, you know, and just play my butt off, just play for the music, and have a really good time. And that’s pretty much what I did.”
Wes’ stay at the camp happened to fall on his birthday weekend, making it even more special. “It was probably the best birthday I’ve ever had,” he enthuses. “On Saturday night, Billy Sheehan and a bunch of the other people at the camp sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me, and that was really cool. It was a nice fitting end for the weekend.”
For more information about Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp, visit RockCamp.com.
For details about Roland and BOSS gear used at the camp, check out our Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp gear list.