Alltel Pavilion Drum Circles
By Greg Whitt
Many of you may have
jammed out in the parking lot before a Phish or Grateful Dead show, but we’re
trying a different approach here in Raleigh, NC.
marketing staff at Cellar Door Concerts’
Alltel Pavilion has
partnered with Remo to offer
community drumming before each show this season. Ticket holders can enter the venue and will
find, not far from the main gate, a gazebo and giant sandbox designated for
drum circles. As part of their “Fans
First” strategy, the pavilion is providing dedicated space, drums from Remo, and
a local Drum Circle Facilitator to help concert-goers make their own
music. The pilot program has received
positive response from fans and management alike.
DCF for the Remo Drum Hut, I’ve found it unique among other community drumming
events. People coming to the concerts
don’t anticipate making the music. On
the contrary, folks here in the U.S. are conditioned to buy tickets, CDs, and hi-fi
stereos rather than make music of their own.
It’s quite an eye-opener for many fans to realize that they are not only
allowed but are actually encouraged to make some noise other than
applause and cheers for the performers on stage. Unlike a dedicated community drum circle
where people come with drumming in mind, the drum hut is a “stumble upon it”
bonus for ticket holders, at least until the word gets out. Spreading the word has been a challenge since
many people will only attend one show at the venue each season and don’t return
until the following year.
shows into the summer concert season, we’ve met with varied results: some shows just seem to draw crowds populated
with people more interested in being interactive. While every show is certainly unique, so far
it has been my experience that Jam Band concerts are frequented by a very
different crowd; they take to the drum circle concept right away. Those who
come to County Western shows are less likely to participate, but after they get used to the
idea they might end up playing the 2 step on the djembe, who knows! Placing a “shill” in the hut to help get
things going has helped draw fans in and encourages them to join in the groove.
drummers from the bands sit in at the hut is a big draw. We had standing room only when Sonny Ortiz
from Widespread Panic grabbed my
old ashiko and started a groove. Literally
dozens of passersby stopped to snap pics on their camera phones and to call
their friends when they were able to literally look over his shoulder and watch
him play. The Dave Matthews Band show
was plagued with an hour-long downpour that generated a lot of interest in any
dry spot. When the drum hut got full,
and the rhythm got going, people were so mesmerized by the music that they
stopped in the middle of the concourse to get their groove on and dance in the
best participation this season was actually at the Christian House Party show -
a day long music festival. This turned out to be a seven-hour
marathon drum jam! People were literally trying to climb the
gazebo walls to get their hands on a Remo drum and jam with the drummers
already in the hut. Some may call it "Rhythmic
Evangelism", maybe religious fervor, but whatever you call it, these kids
rocked the hut for an entire day!
the Remo Drum Hut at Alltel Pavilion is any indicator, you can expect to see
more “sanctioned” drumming at outdoor concert venues in the future. There are already rumors of similar
attractions opening in Charlotte, NC and at several other venues across the nation.