The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

July 14, 2014

Epic Drum Circle helps enliven Fayetteville

An epic sound transcending pa-rum-pum-pum-pum echoed through the streets of Fayetteville last night attracting drummers, music lovers and the curious alike. The area’s first Epic Drum Circle was organized by local tattoo/piercing artist and drum instructor Kasey “Cave Man” Jones to celebrate his birthday and his community. A throng of about 40 people gathered in a circle, drawing anyone within earshot to 129 Court St. to investigate the source of the West African beats — not a familiar sound for a summer night in southern West Virginia.

As the circle expanded, Jones set the structured rhythm along with a crew of other experienced drummers. Several of Jones’ drumming students and many people he’d never seen before brought their own or chose from a selection of available drums, adding their own sounds to the percussive symphony. Not quite accidental, said Jones, the experience was absolutely occidental.

“When people are exposed the first time to West African music and the language of the djembe, it tends to shock them in a positive way. They are drawn in,” Jones said. “Sometimes, they just start dancing.”

Remembering his first drum circle and introduction to West African music, the North Carolina native and graduate of Tam Tam Mandingue’s Drum Instructor Training Program explained why this particular style started him on a six-year musical journey. “Everybody entering the drum circle couldn’t help but smile and experience joy and happiness. That was something I wanted to make a part of my life,” he stated.

Organizing a local Super Moon Drum Circle wasn’t entirely selfless.

“I am in part cultivating. I would like to generate more interest in the music,” he said, indicating a desire to spread appreciation and knowledge of world drumming through his HoloRhythm Community Drum School.

Jones is also collaborating with The Restless Natives’ founder Keith Molyneaux to bring live tribal music and dance to Fayetteville at a biweekly family event at The Grove in Fayetteville. Molyneaux is an experienced flutist and plays the didgeridoo — another distinctive tribal-sounding instrument. He commented on the purpose of this and other assemblies celebrating the music and dance of diverse cultures.

“We’re building community and inspiring people. We are giving people an avenue to come out and play and have fun without having to go to a bar. We even have kids show up at our events. They are family friendly,” added Molyneaux.

Bystanders M.A. McGowen and her associate Tyree Grazier were both on the job, chaperoning disadvantaged youth from Beckley to the assembly. As part of their program, the pair brought several children to participate in the community drum circle. “They already have the instruments,” said Grazier. “They have music lessons every day as part of their therapy.”

“We found out about this event through fliers,” said McGowen. She stated that her administrator encourages the kids to participate in musical events, especially those involving drums.

Laura Ryan of New Hampshire was visiting her son in Fayetteville when she was attracted to the organic sound enough to seek its source. “I’m sure we have drum circles in New Hampshire, but I haven’t seen one,” she said. “I think this is great.”

Jones was pleasantly surprised at the anticipation for the event he publicized only two weeks in advance. It’s a safe bet, while this was a successful initial drum circle, it won’t be the most epic and it won’t be the last.

“I have such a strong passion for drumming, I can’t help myself to want to share it. Drumming itself is a community event.”

— E-mail: lshrewsberry@register-herald.com

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