1998. Savannah is a special place. It survived the Civil War intact, thanks to the perspicacity of it’s women folk who delivered enough booze to the invading horde that they spared the city. General William Tecumseh Sherman gave the city to President Lincoln as a Christmas present along with 2,500 tons of confiscated cotton on Christmas day 1864. It was a lucky city to survive the devastation wrought across the South by the Union forces. I thanked my gracious host in Atlanta, Johnny Freedom and all his cohorts at Little Five Corners in Atlanta and headed southeast through the lush green forest that is Southern Georgia, for a drumming meditation workshop at MoonDance; a New Age store in the picturesque promenade of Savannah. It was a first event for them. They were definitely ahead of the curve for the wave of drumming to sweep the south. I felt like I was on a mission; spreading the groove around the country. When I arrived, we set up in a vintage building that had been a slave market. I put out all my djembes from Ghana for this group of eager drummers. At this time, people did not have djembes from Africa. They were not available. So I would carry a dozen, sometimes up to two dozen Ghana djembes in my van which I stored around the US where ever I set up drumming events. The Ghana drums are lighter, more user friendly, especially for beginners. They are very inviting with nice Adinkra symbols carved on them. They were simple. When I decided to do this drumming as a life work, I decided to use these drums for several reasons; firstly, they did not have any hardware on them which can be intimidating. There very litle industrial dark energy used in making them. So people could feel more at ease playing them. Savannah is a tourist destination; lovely old trees in small parks spread all over the city. The houses are exceptional samples of Antebellum South at it’s finest. The art school was just getting started and the town had a certain unique simple charm. When we got going in the upstairs of this converted slave market, I looked around at the mix of people; every race seemed to be present. This was evidence that humans had evolved into a community of mutual agreement and support. I felt that we were releasing a certain energy that had been trapped in the building. It felt like an exorcism of sorts. There was joy and healing and really cool energetic grooves. This group was typical in that they did not have any idea what drumming was about but they wanted to participate in a groove as a group. This is an instinctive move on people’s part and I do not correct their playing; just show them the downbeat. If they get the drumming bug they can always find a drum teacher, but I warn them; many drum teachers are control freaks and traumatize the students, so I make sure they have a good time in the drumming meditation groups so that they will keep drumming even if they get a weird teacher along the way. We were standing around in the store, MoonDance. Tourists were strolling by. Ornate horse drawn carriages carried people up and down the promenade. A sincere middle aged man from the midwest spoke quietly to me, as if it were a confession. “I am a Catholic priest. We recently had a service for a friend who died. He was also a Catholic priest. He had requested that we drum for him. It was a very moving experience. I want to do this drumming in our church. But I’m afraid they won’t let us do that.”
“Yet…” I added. “When you do, let me know. I’ll come and bring some drums.” This is the way it went all over the country. I went where there was interest. I booked events on a first come first serve basis. Eventually I even drummed with a thousand Dominican nuns in Adrian, Michigan at their mother house. Things change for the better when people feel their groove.

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