“Make sure you are not being followed.” He said, then hung up.

“Make sure you are not being followed.” He said, then hung up.

excerpt: “History of the Groove, drummer’s story” Russell Buddy Helm ©2013 all rights reserved

2009. “Make sure you are not being followed.” He said, then hung up. I was nonplussed. The caller did not explain anything; just time and place and what gear they wanted me to bring.

“You must sign a nondisclosure agreement.” he had stated. “Are you OK with that?”

Yeah, I was. It almost felt like I was in my father’s business. I knew better than to ask questions; just show up, do the gig, get paid and keep my mouth shut. I had two drumsets shipped to me overnight, loaded up my van and arrived in the parking lot of a grocery store at the appointed time and sat there, waiting. He walked up to me on my blindside. He was a professional. His neck was thicker than my thigh. Solid as a rock; he had Blackwater written all over him. “You weren’t followed, right?”

“No.” He seemed to be nice but I wouldn’t want to get on his wrong side. I have seen plenty of mercenaries; my favorites are the old school soldiers of fortune. He had some of that panache but kept it hidden. That’s good, no need to advertise who you are. I still had no idea what was going on.

“Follow me.” He said and jumped in a white new pickup and we were off. I thought I knew these hills but he took me where I had never gone before, stopped at a very high tech gate, punched in a code and we went through. Wound around past ritzy homes and then pulled over. He helped me unload all the drums, carry them into the ‘guest house’ which was huge. Set them up on the Alpaca rugs and waited, again. Finally people started coming in, more body guards, baby sitters, nice people. I sat at the drums and laughed at my life. I had been in some funny situations. This was one of them. Kids started coming in. Really nice kids. I started to get them going on the drums. Finally mom came in with a baby on her hip and it all made sense. She stuck her hand out and shook my hand. She was really nice. This was a cool gig. We banged and had a good time. Dad came home at the end of the day. He reached over the drumset and shook my hand, kicked back and enjoyed the show. He instructed the kids,

“Play like Buddy.”

The coolest testimonial never heard..But I really wasn’t interested in the celeb energy here. I was picking up what they wanted from the drumming; peace of mind; just like all the other people I have been working with. The grooves put them in a place of safety, honesty, trusting, caring, joy, healing, confidence. They really needed all that stuff; just like everybody else in the world.

There is an instinctive need in people for ‘rhythmic nourishment’. Computer drum machines don’t fill that need at all. It makes the anxiety worse, so people feel the urge to hit a drum. They assume that the type of drum to hit is a drumset. So that’s what they had me bring. What they really wanted to hit was a hand drum like the healing djembes from Ghana. So the next time I went up I brought the djembes and let everyone hit those. There is a big difference between a drumset and a djembe. The steel, chrome and machining on a drumset is impressive looking but it is intimidating and puts out the wrong kind of energy for healing. The djembe has no technology so it has a nurturing quality to it that is missing on a drumset. Plus the deep tone is from a goatskin head and a carved thick wooden shell. The only drumset drummer that I knew that still used actual skin drumheads on his kit was cousin Levon Helm. That’s why The Band sounded so authentic. He knew the difference between plastic and skin.

I went up to their house for a few months and watched the kids and the big people open up a little, share the groove and experiment with their own creativity. We showed the kids how to stay grounded and confident and find the downbeat. It was as educational for me as it was for all of them. When it was over, it was over. I never heard from them again. They ended up with a lot of drums and it would be great to have a drumming meditation circle with all their friends, but I seriously doubt that would ever happen. They got what they could get out of it.

excerpt: “History of the Groove, drummer’s story” Russell Buddy Helm ©2013 all rights reserved




This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.