North Charleston music store Guitar Center (7620 Rivers Ave., 843-572-9063) held a special percussion contest last month — a nationwide search for the “Best Undiscovered Drummer in the Nation.” Designed as a national talent search, Drum-Off ’09 signed up several thousand drummers to compete for a chance to be named the champion, which includes $25,000 in cash, prizes, and endorsements.

Now in its 21st year, the Drum-Off series has been a launching pad for numerous drummers, including Cora Coleman-Dunham and Tony Royster Jr., two Drum-Off winners who have gone on to become highly acclaimed professional drummers.

Last week, Charleston-based timekeeper Quentin Ravenel — a young and very busy session man around town — was crowned the winner in the local round. This week, Ravenel moves on to compete in the Drum-Off District Finals, taking place at the Guitar Center store in Winter Park, Fla., where he will continue to battle it out for a chance at cash and prizes.

Following the regional finals on December 3, five finalists will head for Los Angeles in January, where they will perform in front of a live audience and a panel of celebrity judges. The will also share the stage with some of today’s most legendary drummers. Drum-Off ’08 featured performances by Papa Roach, Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden), Jason Bittner (Shadows Fall), and a special collaborative performance by former Drum-Off winner Thomas Pridgen (Mars Volta) and Thomas Lang.

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