Joco 913

Overland Park’s first community drumming event shows everyone’s got the beat

Bill Pittman, right, a member of the KC Drum Tribe, led a group of drummers during a Community Drumming Event in downtown Overland Park.
Bill Pittman, right, a member of the KC Drum Tribe, led a group of drummers during a Community Drumming Event in downtown Overland Park. Special to The Star

On the third Friday in July, 8-year-old Ian Lynn was spellbound at the the KC Drum Tribe tent from beat one, passionately playing every instrument he saw.

There were bongos, congos, bodhráns, djembes, and pots and pans.

“He loves this,” said Sherri Lynn, Ian’s mother. “He’s never played a drum before, but it looks like we may have to follow up with some lessons.”

Ian was joined by drummers of all ages at Overland Park’s first community drumming event, featured as part of the city’s 3rd Friday Local Life program. That Friday was the first time many had ever put hand, brush or stick to a drum.

Established in 2008 by Elaine Johnson, owner of Harper’s Fabric, and Laura Laiben, founder of the Culinary Center of Kansas City, the Local Life program features area business owners hosting wine and food tastings, art exhibits, demonstrations and live music on the third Friday of each month.

On Aug. 17, the theme is Create Local. The work of local artists will be displayed in businesses throughout the town.

Laiben said entertainment experiences are key to the success of the third Friday events.

“These kinds of unique opportunities help establish our community as vibrant and collaborative.”

Like Laiben, drummer Cathy Burchett believes in the power and importance of building community — especially through drumming.

“Since ancient times, drums were used to communicate with people near and far away,” Burchett explained. “They’ve been used to signal danger, celebrate rites of passage and send invitations — like, ‘Come to my village’ or ‘Come to our party.’”

Burchett is a member of Djembe Djanes and Djims, one of KC Drum Tribe’s three performance groups. She’s been a drumming advocate and educator for more than 25 years.

“Drums are like an orchestra,” she said. “We all have different parts and rhythms to play. When I teach the ancient rhythms, I teach the entire ‘orchestra,’ and I also teach the stories behind the songs.”

Burchett and other members of Djembe Djanes and Djims took the opportunity to teach some of those fundamental beats, rhythms, and stories to drummers during the Overland Park event. They also encouraged reluctant players on the sidelines to jump in and give drumming a whirl.

“It’s a whole lot more fun to play than to watch other people play,” Burchett said.

During Community Drumming Event in downtown Overland Park July 20, Helene Martinez, left, a member of the KC Drum Tribe, shared the joy with first-time drummer, Siva Iswarya Ramamirtham of Overland Park. Anne Marie Hunter Special to The Star

Each year, Djembe Djanes and Djims participates in dozens of interactive drumming events throughout the metro.

They perform annually at Women’s Equality Week and lead drum circles at Johnson County Mental Health.

“Wherever we’re from, drums are something we can all agree on,” Burchett said.

For Laiben, the community drumming event was a dream come true.

“This is something I’ve wanted to do for 10 years,” Laiben said. “It’s been fun to finally make it happen. I would love it to become something we do often.”