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First ever "Drum Fest" in Battle Creek this weekend


Various styles of drumming will be on display this weekend in Battle Creek. The Music Center is presenting its first annual drum fest  on Saturday

Drum Fest is being held Saturday from 9:00a.m. to 1:00p.m. at the Music Center at Kellogg Community College. 

Bill Dowdy has had an extensive career performing and teaching. But he didn’t start out wanting to play the drums. Dowdy found the drums, or maybe the drums found Dowdy while he was still in high school.

“We needed a drummer. I had a drum set and everything, so I became the drummer. But I was a piano player then, or at least I thought I was.” (laughs)

Since then drumming has taken Dowdy far and wide as a member of the jazz group the Three Sounds. He recorded on Blue Note records and toured extensively. Dowdy has also taught at Western Michigan University and Kellogg Community College. Art teacher Deborah Hall came to drumming in a different way:

“I was looking for an art project for my kids to make, something hands on. And ended up making an actual instrument. Not a project, not a craft, an actual instrument and fell in the love with the drumming, fell in love with the music”

Hall’s West African Drum Emsemble is now in its eighth year, they will be leading a drum circle at this weekend’s Drum Fest. Bill Dowdy hopes to teach a little jazz history. Dowdy, the drum teacher at the Music Center, plans to perform an old jazz standard “Jam For Your Bread."

“The jam session in those days was where go, you play, you get heard by other musicians. And you get a job from that and you get paid some bread, you know.”

Drum Fest also features workshops for marching percussion and drum basics. Dowdy says drumming is about giving everyone a place to meet.

“And in drumming that’s what keeps it all together, they’re all meeting at certain points and feel that connection”

Deborah Hall started teaching drumming as an extra-curricular activity. She says there’s more to drumming than just rhythm and a back beat. She says the connection can be spiritual:

“I’ve heard, and I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard that when people drum together in a large group that their heartbeats synchronize. And that’s why I think that when you drum with the same group of people a lot you, like I drum with my kids a lot…I just wonder if that’s why we don’t form a certain sense, because I do feel very connected to my students”

The first ever Drum Fest is being held this weekend at the Music Center in Battle Creek. The program runs from nine o’clock tomorrow morning until one o’clock in the afternoon in the Davidson Building at Kellogg Community College.

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.