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updated: 8/5/2011 11:55 AM

Guitar Center opens annual Drum-Off contest

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It's time to sign up for Guitar Center's annual Drum-Off, the national contest that can lead to fame and regular gigs, as well as a grand prize valued at $50,000, including $25,000 in cash.

The Arlington Heights store at 2375 S. Arlington Heights Road not only stages local contests but will host the district and regional finals, too, said Chris Stone, the store manager.

The first 30 people who sign up at each store will compete on three Tuesday nights in September. The regional winner goes on to Los Angeles.

Last year 6,600 drummers competed, Stone said.

Competitors can sign up at any Guitar Center store. They will be judged on originality, technique, style, stage presence and groove.

Cora Coleman-Dunham, who's performed with Prince, and Tony Royster, Jr., who's played with Jay-Z and Paul Shaffer, are among the drummers who saw their careers take off after the competition.