Drums thundered off the brick buildings

Drums thundered off the brick buildings in downtown Elkhart, Indiana as The Wavettes, a drum and baton corps, marched and played their drums and bugles down main street of this typical perfect mid sized midwestern town- a good place to raise your kids up. Wearing a bass drum is not an easy task, even for a young, tall, skinny student of the famous woman drum teacher, Aileen Trafford.  They were national champions and the drummers were all excellent, as was the baton twirlers and color guard. In 1959, this was drumming in the United States; military, disciplined, marching, maneuvering. There was no swinging drumlines playing hip hop. This was traditional American ceremony; no dancing, just marching. The parade lasted hours, the young Scotch drum player was tall and looked older than his age. He was also a good enough drummer to be in the senior corps, but he was required to carry the largest, heaviest drum, strapped onto his thin frame that would come back to haunt his chiropractor at a later date in his life. The first mile was hot, the uniforms were heavy and grew moist in the Indiana summer sun. The second mile of the parade the leather straps wrapped around his thin long fingers began to chafe the skin. The third mile, the blisters start to come up on his fingers as the deep low pounding reverberated through his determined skull. The next few miles was the agony of watching his own fingers bleed freely as chunks of skin were ripped off by the unforgiving leather straps on the twirling scotch drum mallets. By the end of the parade there were blisters on most of the marcher’s feet. But the Scotch drummer had to soak his bleeding hands and wrap them in qauze soaked with Bactine, a useless antiseptic. He would not be able to hold a spoon for a day or so because of the pain and raw bleeding gashes in his fingers. It was part of the dedicated sacrifice required to be a good drummer.

excerpt: “History of the Groove” Russell Buddy Helm ©2015 buddyhelm.com

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