Drum-Filled Weekends

As I’ve said before, October is a busy month for the Gradin household. This year, drumming events take a great deal of our time in the fall. On Friday, Alchemy Drumming and Dance put together a drum circle for the Georgia Theater Conference at Brenau and on the square. We were asked to come in and show the 1000 or so prospective students what fun can be had in Gainesville. It just so happens that I do think a lot of fun can be had in Gainesville. Our drum circles are just one example, but I’m glad we were asked to show that one.

The crowd at lunch was one of curiosity and exploration. People were ready to learn a few things and enjoy themselves. We put together a few good groups of people over about one and a half hours. This venue, in direct contrast to one later that night, was controllable.

At 7:00pm, we began a set to open for a steel drum band. There was no one around when Matt and I sat down to start working on some pieces we needed to practice. Only a few percussive hits into it and a herd of high school students came bounding over bushes and through trees to get a seat and a drum. It was a massive collision of man and drum. Instantly the circle picked up and exploded. We played for another hour and a half or so before the headliner band began. They were truly awesome as steel drums go. The audience was less interested with their performance, though still watching, than ours. I attribute that to these kids’ need to be involved that night. We went on to play breaks for the band when they needed one. The energy swept up so suddenly that we were unable to control the groups. We gave up on that and just fell into their addictive jubilations. It was border-line mosh pit in the grasses of the downtown square. Very cool. It wasn’t until later that we really looked at what had happened and decided that we had taken exactly the right path of control for this group. I hope that this brings some new players to the group’s regular meetings.

Saturday was another day of drumming, though more subdued. Alchemy played a retirement/convalescent home in Lawrenceville. These gigs are really tough, and made even more so by the previous night’s explorations. The folks in these homes are often times incapacitated to varying degrees and it can be very difficult to determine if what you’re doing is enjoyed or hated. We rely heavily on the staff onsite to keep an eye on people and decide when they’ve had enough. Regardless of the challenges, it’s rewarding in that we feel we’re doing a service for these people. After all, they have asked us back now three times.

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