On Saturday, Scott Swimmer and his sons Mason and Tobias will get haircuts.
That may seem routine, but their long locks will be shorn as veteran Charlotte musician Randy Franklin and his band play Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Almost Cut My Hair.” The hair-cutting ceremony is part of the 10th annual DrumStrong – a festival centered on a drum circle marathon that raises funds and awareness for cancer research, much like a walk-a-thon.
Swimmer’s son Mason was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2004. When his dad offered to cut his hair, Mason protested.
“When Mason was going through it and was bald, I decided to shave my head and he said, ‘Don’t you dare!’ ” remembers Swimmer. Mason wanted things to stay as normal as possible.
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The Swimmers started DrumStrong in 2007, to bring together survivors and those affected by cancer. In the years since then, it’s sprouted fundraising events worldwide, with DrumStrongs from Tokyo to Dusseldorf broadcast on the web.
“The webcast can be picked up in a hospital in Kazakhstan,” says Swimmer, adding that it’s something that patients can physically participate in. “Many have witnessed the runs and walks and cycling, and that’s good for those who can run and walk – but this is a totally participatory event.”
Last year’s DrumStrong didn’t get permits in time to be held on the Providence Road family farm, Misty Meadows. So the event was combined with the N.C. Brewers and Music Festival in Rural Hill. This year, it’s back at Misty Meadows, though the drum circle will be just 12 hours, not the longer event it has been in years past.
Among performers: The Kruger Brothers, Jeff Sipe, Josh Daniel & Mark Schimick, Flatland Tourists, Of Good Nature and others. The drum circle kicks off at 10 a.m.
“I am sort of steering it back toward its roots ... sharing a pulse, sharing a heartbeat, or God-given whatever, to make a joyful noise, as opposed to the big (bands) and beer drinking, which somewhat distracted from the festival,” says Swimmer. “I want people to show up for the right reasons.”
Twelve years after his original diagnosis and 10 after the inaugural DrumStrong, Mason Swimmer is cancer-free. He recently graduated from Queens University’s music therapy program.
WHEN: 9:30 a.m. Saturday (gates open at 8:30 a.m.)
WHERE: Misty Meadows Farm, 455 Providence Road South (at Ennis Road)
TICKETS: Registration is $25 individual, $50 per family with children under 12, and $75 VIP.