I am back in Key West Florida once again for a wedding. I started off my “performance” career here on the dock at Mallory Square playing congas with a dancer for spare change over 40 years ago. I used to pay my rent in rolls of quarters! How time fly’s when you are having fun. It seems like it was just yesterday although every things changed and I don’t recognize a thing but his is where my history started in a sense.
And my whole drumming history I have had people try to stop me from playing. People telling me “you can’t”, “you shouldn’t”, “you are this so you can’t do that”. You name it.
In Key West I started performing and playing out and I have never stopped since then. And people have tried. to stop me. At the beginning of every summer I get the usual hate comments on my Facebook. I am not going to go into details but suffice to say,”it’s not gonna stop me”.
It never has and it never will. I thank them for helping me to see so clearly it is people’s own issues and insecurities which indeed, have no place in the drum world. My philosophy is unity of the drum. The drum is for everyone. I don’t care your age, race, sex or serial number.
I have seen the drum every where now. For me first it was bongos, congas and later djembe. And it is and always has been about “unity of the drum”, a philosophy I learned from Abdulye Diakate of Tambocounda, Senegal. He taught and opened up the does for most of us to play in Northern Califonria in the early 80’s.
It simply means that the drum brings us all together as a village, as a family as one..united. It is not about the individual it is about the group experience together. There is strong chain with any weak links.
It’s so ironic that in my travels to Brazil, Cuba, West Africa, India and other countries, people are so very happy and supportive you learn and share their music and culture. They are often astonished.
Furthermore, they are totally supportive and happy to tell you and express openly about this. However, in the USA we tend to be separatists forming our own groups and clicks. Furthermore and on a slightly different note, drumming is “inclusive” not exclusive.
If you come to where I am and I have a performance, if you can hang, if you can play, I will put you in the performance or gig somewhere. I will include you. You do not threaten me if you play as well or better then me.
Maybe you can teach me something. One person standing alone is O.K., two is stronger and in three we find unity. We need to learn to accept each other even if we have differences and we need to become inclusive and expand out of our insecurities.
The general populace does not understand who we are as percussionists. They think we are a bunch of untrained folks just banging away. The more of us that can come to gather in unity and represent a strong musical drumming force the better. People talk of love, of unity of brotherhood/sisterhod and “spirituality”. Let’s show it with each other instead of just talking about it.
If we can show there is a unity of drumming when we play, (it’s not just ego “look at me-look at me”), when we perform and all the time then we are giving the world a positive and powerful message. I really wish we could all have more patience with each other, listen and be truly open to each others views.
When we invite in others different then ourselves into our world, be it drumming, music or otherwise we open our world to such greater opportunities for growth, creativity and expansion in positive ways.