You could hear the rhythm of the drums above the happy buzz of people on North Main Street last Saturday.
Waxhaw's fall festival, “Autumn Treasures,” was in full swing, and festival goers were basking in the sunshine of a perfect autumn afternoon.
The beat was persistent, rhythmic, and called me at a visceral level that's hard to describe. Forsaking corndogs, funnel cakes and chats with vendors (three of my favorite things), I followed the sound across South Main Street and into the park.
I encountered the drum circle between the playground and the skateboard park, and got a smile that hung in until Monday.
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The circle was made up of percussionists of all ages. As I arrived, drumSTRONG™ organizer Scott Swimmer stood in the circle and called out a new rhythm: “I like chocolate cake! (Dum-dum-da-da-dum.)”
The circle picked up the beat (dum-dum-da-da-dum) and kept it up. I sat on a chair and started to beat a colorful drum vacated by a preschooler, whose mom was into this and not about to leave. (Dum-dum da-da-dum.)
Somewhere on the perimeter, a tambourine or two added a light counterpoint, and then maracas picked up the rhythm, emphasizing the second beat “I LIKE chocolate cake (dum-DUM-da-da-dum.)”
A couple of scrapers opened up at the nine o'clock position, and then the circle was jamming. The effect was hypnotic, and I'm really not sure how long we kept up the beat. For the first time I understood how drummers, like the late, great Olatunji, could go on for hours with having their arms quit: They were lost in the rhythm.
And that, I learned, was the point. On a break, Swimmer explained that next spring, at Misty Meadows Farm in Weddington, drumSTRONG '09 will endeavor to set the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous drum-a-thon.
Starting at noon on May 16 through May 17, individuals, families and groups are invited to solicit sponsorship for each hour of drumming while they play with celebrity drummers. All proceeds from admission and sponsorship will help fight cancer.
For more information, go to www.drumstrong.org.
Next Saturday on the bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Crane (Crane Lake Park) the 29th Annual Waxhaw Scottish Highland Games will take place. The fields will open for the general public at 8 a.m., the closing ceremonies are 4:30 p.m.
If you haven't been before, or if you are new to Union County, I will try to describe what awaits. Think “Braveheart” meets “Brigadoon.” OK, maybe that's a little extreme, but there will be lots of piping, Scottish and Celtic music, highland dancing featuring large individuals in kilts tossing cabers, “sheep” and axes.The parade of the clans and the massed bands will fill the view with color.
The event will be held rain or shine, (In Scotland, most days feature both.)
For more information, go to www.wshg.org, or call 803-818-5272.