I did a healing drum workshop in northern Florida at River Rondezvous, Convict Springs close to Branford, Florida, West of Gainseville on hiway 27. Miamidrums.com did great interviews with different drummers appearing there. Check out the nice interview!
I am busy drumming around the country. It is a great honor to work with so many people willing to discover the therapeutic aspects of drumming. I realized twenty years ago that I would not be able to do this forever. I have had a great life as a touring and recording drummer for many years. I got to play with Frank Zappa, Duane Allman, Baba Olatunji, Tim Buckley, Mike Bloomfield, Big Joe Turner, Peter Ivers, Charlie Dechant, Panama Red and many other great musicians. I have learned from everyone, including the people who have never hit a drum before.
I seem to be the proponent for a style of drumming that is not traditional African djembe drumming. I love and respect African Drumming. I seem to be working with people who are interested in finding a sacred form of drumming that is indigenous to our country-the US. Since we are such a mix of peoples, I chose to use the basic rhythm and blues grooves that have been the mainstay of American pop music for a hundred years. This is based on African, but also European rhythms, Native Indian, Caribbean, South American as well as Far East. We are a mix of grooves.
The unifying concept of the DOWNBEAT is that it is the common note that we can all relate to. This is a uniquely American word. It was invented in New Orleans. When all the various types of people came together there several hundred years ago, they wanted to play music but did not know each other’s musical styles. So all these different people gathered in what became “Conga Square” decided to create at least ONE NOTE that they all could agree on. That was the DownBeat. The downbeat is the beginning note of any rhythmic phrase-short or long. It is a comforting concept because everyone gets lost and there is no need to get upset when that happens.The downbeat will be coming back around again and you can get back on the groove by finding the downbeat. This is different than traditional African drumming where everyone plays classically developed parts and the masters are soloing.
In the Downbeat method of drumming, the basic pattern is simple enabling anyone to solo over the groove. We are a busy culture, and do not have time to learn traditional African drumming. We created the original world beat right here in th US. It is rock n roll, the Blues, Soul music, Country, folk, Rhythm n Blues. I chose these grooves to drum with because we already know them. Everybody knows them. In just a few minutes, the group finds the common groove and can get to the fun part which is creating. Playing rehearsed parts is fine, but most people don’t learn the same parts. So the trick was to invent a form of drumming where we could all play immediately. The requirement is that the downbeat be supported by EVERYONE. That means each person can try to solo a LITTLE BIT, then get back to supporting the DownBeat for other people to solo but more importanly to hold the feel of the groove. Otherwise there is only aggressive banging or rigid parts that have no nurturing feel. We have great grooves in this country. Learning traditional is wonderful but don’t ignore your own heritage- jazz and rock n roll are the most pervasive music in the world. Partly because of the commercial distribution but also because there is truth and soul in our grooves. That means people relate to these grooves.
This study of the downbeat then lead to the amazing healing aspects of the groove. this is not just a feel good form of drumming. There are specific protocols that elicit predictable affects in the person doing the drumming. Conditions can be treated. Contact me for healing drum therapy sessions.
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