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AZ Rhythm Connection and REMO Drums Celebrate Phoenix First Friday Art Walk’s Burning Bush Drum Circle!

by Frank Thompson

The Burning Bush Drum Circle in Phoenix Arizona is celebrating its first year. With a healthy supply of REMO festival drums, small tubanos and tambourines, this circle has turned into the signature drum event within the city of Phoenix.

The Phoenix Art Walk, is a miles long monthly event where artists and artisans display their creations and talents on the first Friday of every month. Transit and special buses deliver patrons all along the strip. Once there, they walk around and take in the wonderful art and shop. Over time it was clear to a few of the business owners at the north end that they were not getting enough foot traffic. They wanted and needed to do something to draw visitors towards their part of Art Walk. Being lovers of music and rhythm they thought that a drum circle might be just the right thing. The business group eventually approached the AZ Rhythm Connection, and asked if we could help them launch some kind of drum thing. At first they were not sure what they really meant by a drum circle.

Cleary, the Burning Bush Drum Circle, started from a very humble beginning of being just an idea. After a short discussion of the possibilities, it was decided that a facilitated circle was the way to go. The next question was what to do about instruments and the AZ Rhythm Connection, agreed to supply REMO instruments. REMO drums and percussion have been a perfect fit because of their durability and ease of transport and storage. Their bright colors make them easy for the patrons to find and use without being afraid of hurting the drums or losing the percussion pieces. It is big fun watching the different participants share instruments as they enjoy the rhythms and community spirit.

recreational music making REMO Festival Drums in background and REMO pre-tuned doumbek’s are part of the fun at the Burning Bush Circle

The circle has grown from an idea into a magnificent monthly musical moment that now includes a large group of fire spinners, belly and tribal dancers and drummers from all over the greater Phoenix area. The circle’s reputation has even reached Tucson, which is over 90 miles away. Each month the contingent that drives up from Tucson gets a little larger. A quick visual survey of the crowd reveals an incredible array of rhythm lovers: young people, seniors, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, Whites, men, women and families with children. Who would have thought that in downtown Phoenix, late on a Friday night, that we would have such a diverse group of people together and in the groove! The music diversity has been an equal blend, as we have been visited by bagpipes, Tablas, mother drums, gourd drums, and flutes from many lands. And now that the drum circle on the northern end has become a “must see” event, we routinely have tourists who are fascinated by the experience as they pick up a drum and get their drum circle groove on!

recreational music making All ages and cultures at the Burning Bush. REMO 10” frame in use and 10” pretuned in the right background

The Burning Bush Drum Circle has been featured on newscasts and in print by the leading newspaper. All of this sounds almost too good to be true, but it would not have happened without the leadership of the business owners who wanted to do something different. On cold nights they bring out portable fire pits to keep everyone warm. The cooperation of the residents has also been phenomenal. The nearby homeowners and apartment dwellers have been welcoming in every way. Adding to the flavor, we have just started to have a few food vendors begin to sell hot coffee and beverages. Being that it is Phoenix, they will be switching to cold drinks very soon!

It is amazing what can happen when a few like minded people get together with a few drums, a facilitator and a commitment towards creating a great drum circle. Sometimes we have over 100 or more people visit our circle.

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