Bebe Michel of Gearhart and Russ Mead of Seaside have been interested in drumming for awhile.
“Ever since I experienced a Grateful Dead drum solo in concert as a teenager, I recognized drumming as primal and thrilling,” Michel said. Michel plays the piano and alto recorder, but said until fairly recently, she never owned a drum. Fast forward to 2016 when she became a political activist.
“I started out with a homemade bucket drum,” Michel said. “I still didn’t know about real drums and was unsure how to begin.” She said on the night of the lunar eclipse January 20, 2019, she and a group of friends went out on the beach to build a bonfire and drum. That’s when she met Russ Mead.
“He knows about drums,” Michel said.
The two got to talking, and soon after Michel purchased a djembe drum. One thing led to another and a drum circle in Seaside was born.
The first circle will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Bob Chisholm Community Center in Seaside. The plan is to meet the first Saturday of every month. The drum circle is open to the public and everyone is welcome.
The Whale Spirit Drum Circle is a family friendly event. It’s meant to be a monthly celebration of drumming, Mead and Michel said.
“We have no agenda other than bringing together locals and visitors who want to sit in circle and drum,” Mead said. “We expect to see Native American style frame drums, African djembes, Irishbodhrans, as well brightly colored festival drums produced specifically for modern drum circles. We expect to welcome serious drummers as well as first time drummers.”
Mead said a good community drum circle has a loose structure. “Everyone knows when and where to gather,” he said. “A facilitator opens the circle with a few remarks. Then the facilitator lays down a steady beat. The rest of the circle either joins in or adds slight embellishments; the rhythm ebbs and flows with its own spirit.”
Mead has created a website that details drum circle etiquette and what to bring. A small suggested donation is requested to offset the room rental for the Bob Chisholm Community Center.
Michel said her vision for the circle is that it become like the community of drummers who meet regularly in Asheville, North Carolina. “They started out with 10 people to become a downtown cultural event and major tourist draw.”
“We’re hoping we’ll have people of all experience levels come to be part of a drumming conversation and have fun,” Michel said. “And when the weather is nice, we’re hoping to do outdoor drumming at the Seaside Turnaround at the end of Broadway. Hopefully it will make people happy as they stroll along the Prom.”
For more information, log on to WhaleSpirit.com.