Any Monday you can drive your pickup through the Tacoma Dome is sure to be a great day. The beat of 500 drummers pounds relentlessly as a tidal wash in the cement pond created by the pulled back stands. Upon first impression the group seemed as a whole, a dull throbbing pulse that filled the mid-sized Tacoma Dome. We were assigned a number and let loose on the stadium floor to choose the perfect setup point for the afternoon's activities. Spotting an aptly equipped gentleman to my left I began to build along side without the prerequisite carpet that most drummers posses. After unloading the truck and parking around the other side, I was left to soak up the ambience of what is potentially the largest group of drummers ever assembled. Nothing was left to the imagination as lights filled some drums while others were as vintage as a glass of gin in the hands of Mel Torme. One set was actually fit to mount upon a working bicycle. Some carried in a standard 3-piece jazz set and others boasted tympani kettle drums and another totaling 22 cymbals in all.
One highlight was a female drummer in her 80's in a touching tribute to her husband, a local teacher whose students were in the audience that day. Very appropriate for the many young female drummers present for the event. In fact a boom of female teen age drummers seems to be in effect. I wouldn't be surprised to find a few going nation wide in the future.
Donn Bennett was a huge sponsor of the event and also played during the staged drum performance. Joining him were veterans such as Allan White, Greg Bissonette, Zoro, Kenny Aronoff plus drummers from bands such as P.O.T.USA, Heart and Queensryche.
After the group had assembled, an announcer from the stage was eventually able to quiet the mob of noisy drummers. The show started with a rousing round of drum solos from the famous counter parts located on the riser platform.
What followed was what is known as "trading fours". This is when the drummers on stage play a solo while the audience of drummers play their hi hats in a four count unison for four measures. Then for four measures the drummers from the crowd would play a unison solo (much closer to the proverbial train wreck) while the drummers on stage counted out and watched.
A conductor with white gloves lead the ceremonious charge on the record books that would bind the mass of percussion into a single goal: 500 drummers playing the same beat for 6 minutes. A lofty yet seemingly unattainable task for the ages, could 500 drummers actually play together for 6 continuous uninterrupted minutes? And end together simultaneously? At the end of the day we would see that event come to it's fruition but we didn't know that at first. There were many false starts and a few hams that would play after the "all stop" signal was given. With a 4 bar beat decided and practiced upon the floor was set for a unison performance. The flow of cymbals looked like a brass wave crashing toward the stage as the drummers pounded a furious synchronized beat. When the deed was accomplished the results were immediate "success"! A drum roll was given by all around. After the record attempt an all star jam including a cowboy hatted - pink scarf wearing Randy Hanson gave multiple dive bomb antics to accompany the mass of drummers that out manned the scarce four or so other musicians on stage. As the day faded, a sense of camaraderie crossed the crowd in a feeling of accomplishment that surrounded the events of this year's WoodStick 2005. -Dave Robinson
|National Music News|