Venice Beach Drum Circle
© 2002 Bruce Shutan. All rights reserved
drum circle phenomenon is playing out across America, but
nowhere is the scene as riveting as it is on L.A.'s Venice
Beach, where drummers, dancers and spectators have been gathering
on weekends for some 50 years. The Venice Beach Drum Circle
fosters a multi-cultural sound and primal energy captured
on "Harmonious Mayhem/Absolutely Live," a 39-minute
CD sold on the VBDC Web site (www.venicebeachdrumcircle.com)
whose title says it all about the blessing and curse of open
usually provide the backbeat and rhythm, while more skilled
players improvise and solo, observes Joseph Hernandez Tiu,
an architect who has been drumming at the VBDC since moving
to Venice about five years ago. One problem, he says, is when
too many drummers show up and pound out multiple rhythms as
loud as they can without listening to one another.
VBDC "is a little bit like the Mulligan Stew people made
in the Great Depression," adds Marc Madow, whose documentary
about the Venice Beach Boardwalk devotes 39 of its 67 minutes
to the VBDC. "There are some talented regulars who drum
in a way that inspires others into certain musical places.
But because there are always new visitors to the drum circle
interesting new sounds and sights to blend with."
VBDC includes musicians who've performed with Santana and
the Jefferson Airplane, according to Madow. What's also worth
noting is how many people bring homemade instruments. "One
guy shows up with a piece of metal salvaged from a demolished
building," he says, "while another guy has a piece
of textured brass."
flock to the VBDC because of the surf, sand and, of course,
sweet sounds that balance improvisation with basic beats.
"For musical adventure," Madow believes, "the
unlicensed, unregulated, un-elected, not FDA approved, absolutely
free VBDC is the game."
the Author: Bruce Shutan, an L.A.-based freelance writer,
has been playing the drums since 1970. He has performed and
recorded in numerous bands. firstname.lastname@example.org