Of Drum Groups and All-Night Jams
...tracing the beginnings of my personal journey (1991-96) with...
African Drumming, Drum Rhythm Groups, Jamming
and Trance Dancing
Creator wants us to drum. He wants us to corrupt the world
with drum, dance and chants. Afterall, we have already
corrupted the world with power and greed....which hasn't
gotten us anywhere - now's the time to corrupt the world
with drum, dance and chants."
Drumming and Trance Dancing
had our fifth annual All-Night Drum this year . Different
every year: and always a special event, a highlight. February:
when everyone needs a boost of some kind, a rift in the
cold gray routine, and this does it like nothing else. Here
the drums have reign for a full 24 hours. One rule: keep
the beat going. Whoever shows up, by word of mouth or friendly
notice, shows up. It's a jam all the way....
the first annual 24-hour drum:
at the hall, called in the four directions, chanted, beat
the steady 210 of the shaman's drum, Michael and Walkin
and Jane and Rowena and I, and a guy from New Denver: gettin
in the mood. Then began a good rolling rock in the forming
circle, with a jazz beat offset by Ken. Julie, Lars, Doug
all showed up and joined.
there, a pastiche, a roller-coaster, a trading of percussion
toys, a sharing of drums, ongoing beat. Peter, Michael M.
show up, go like crazy. Later, Julie and Jane with Peter,
Doug and New Denver, cohesive and driving.
it didn't always "work." During the most high-energy
jamming, as between Michael and me, or me on the good djembe
and Nigel on the yew, I'd be self-centered, loud and improvisational.
Julie and Nigel later would say they'd look for the quietest
drum, to play to that; or that the loud "stuff"
was overbearing, impenetrable, lost on a jag. Lars remarked
that traditionally African drummers didn't play free of
the forms until age 30, after fifteen years of practice.
"Yeah," I replied, "but we've been listening
to jazz for twenty years."
Davis said, "There are no mistakes."
said, "It's all good."
the night, the evening and night.
lays down, Julie and I take it up. Me on the big bass, her
on the djembe, steady, slow, and powerful. Michael says,
"that was the best music I've heard in Argenta."
I say, "that's what I thought hearing you guys play
when I lay down to sleep."
I didn't sleep.
we lay out in the circle on the mats and benches, we took
rattles and shakers in our hands, to keep the beat. At one
point only I was up, with the sticks. Then New Denver relieved
me, and he took up the slow bass djembe.
morning we made strong black coffee and got into some grooved
jamming. Alternating with slow breathers. At one sparse
point Doug said "It feels like some Buddhist colony."
I thought, and set up a sustained 210 on the yew drum, chanting
Om with New Denver beside me, Doug cross-legged on the mat
opposite. Jane nearby; Julie wandering, Lars and Michael
gone, Ken asleep or out. It took off--the rolling drumstick
beats, the billowing group voice.
walked in, dumbstruck. Later he said, "It felt like
a church, a sacred space. You guys were egoless, totally
spaced out. You'd gotten rid of everything, burned it all
away." He took over the driving force on the yew drum,
eyes closed and grooving from then on, the last four hours.
"I figured you'd need the energy boost by then."
it's over, we drift outside in the sun on bright morning
snow. And the ravens pick it up and carry it on: quork,
--Nowick Gray, 1996