A drum-oholic father passes along a family tradition, and by doing so provides his son with the reward of a life lesson—help others when others need it most.
It started when my eyes caught a glimpse of the drum set tucked away in the corner of our middle school’s music classroom. Once I saw those drums, there was no turning back.
My mother was with me when we sat down with, “Mr. D,” my middle school’s music teacher.
“Can I play those?” I asked with enthusiasm.
“What, the drums?”
38 years later, few things in life bring more joy than playing a full set with a killer band, sweating behind the set, and bashing drum skins.
Except for one thing – playing with my son. My wife and I bought him his first set when he turned four and he’s slowly getting his ‘chops,’ as drummers like to say.
Ironically, it was the same instrument my father played during his childhood. Sadly, it didn’t go so well after his stepfather tried to tamp down the noise by giving my adolescent dad a pair of drum brushes. Shortly thereafter, drums were banned in his home. I still have the pair and will pass them along as an heirloom.
Real drummer’s don’t come with volume controls. Good ones ignore them!
To my mother’s credit, and my wife’s, the next generations that followed never had to yield for silence. Our basement will continue to rock whenever we descend and play our drums.
When the pandemic hit, it warmed my heart to see so many people in North Jersey bash pots and pans at 7:00 pm.
Then came the airing of the Jersey 4 Jersey telecast. Featuring Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Tony Bennett, and a host of others, they were raising money for the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund.
I watched and was simply amazed how they had put it all together—during a statewide lockdown and the money they were able to raise. This charity was started to provide relief to those who need it most, and to date $4.2 million dollars have been raised and assistance has been given to 55,000 people and organizations.
But those pots kept banging in my head, and after watching Bruce Springsteen’s performance, I thought it was time we put on a show of our own.
The following day, I shared the idea with my son. “Connor, do you like banging those pots and pans?”
“Then let’s bang something else. Our drums!”
We set up the first performance on our driveway and started a GoFundMe page to raise donations. We kicked it off with beats from We Will Rock You, and then followed with a straight 4-beat rhythm so that my son could play in tandem with me. I added some flavor but Connor kept the beat steady and even-keeled.
We did a live broadcast on Facebook and dozens, if not a hundred people, showered us with praise. More importantly, we raised some money.
We did it again the following week, and after that, we moved our ‘stage’ to a roundabout in our neighborhood. 50 people showed up for the show and it was Connor’s biggest performance to date.
The donations kept coming in—some folks even jammed $20’s in our live recording mechanism. It represented a Styrofoam box I used to hold the camera while we played.
Then we upped the ante and my wife suggested we invite a 12-year-old music phenom from a local town to join us. We opened up, and Glen Rock’s Ethan Kule performed four songs – some originals and some covers. The crowd enjoyed his performance to say the least.
And as we’ve done in the past, we ended festivities with a ‘Get The Funk Out’ drumbeat from yours truly, in an effort to get the kids dancing. My son did some crazy dance moves with his feet that is a cross between Irish folk dancing and hip-hop tomfoolery, and it’s fun to watch.
We’ve raised $500 dollars and were grateful for the support we’ve received from friends and family, but as a father, this went beyond drumming with my son, or rehearsing with him, or pinging every friend and relative to tune in and donate.
My son learned a life lesson—give back when you can, because one day, you may need someone’s help. During a global pandemic, what’s more important than that?