Archive for drum circle

Savannah Drum Circle

Posted in Critical Commentary of Civilization, Music Reviews, POB Audio, Spiritual with tags , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2014 by Drogo

While I was earning my Masters Degree in architecture from Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), in Georgia, I lived on Forsyth Park during the 3 years. Forsyth Park was the largest park in the City of Savannah, and I was very lucky to have such a luxurious ‘yard’. I enjoyed walking and biking through it to classes, running around it and practicing martial arts in it for exercise, and wondering at the beauty of the spanish-moss in the live-oak trees, flowers, and green grass every day. Sometimes I would hear the drums calling to me, from across the fields of the Park, and I would find the free and open Forsyth Park Drum Circle. For a few months it was every Sunday at the Park for hours, but it would also happen randomly.

There were usually at least 2 or 3 drummers that would bring djembes and start drumming. Once they started the call to mass, others like myself would seek them out and join them. There was a tall blonde dreadlock guy named ‘Lion’, and some other hippy-type guys. My best friend in the circle was a hippy vegan girl, who kept a dog. I do not remember her name, but she always smiled a lot and lived a free and alternative life. I think many of the drummers were homeless to various degrees. I did not have a large drum, so I played my native american flute from Alabama (Llama Reed).

Sometimes other SCAD students came to play with us, and that is how some of us formed a ‘pan-ethnic music band’ called ‘The Lance Simmons Quintet’. Our college band was formed by a film student who played drums and chanted vocals. We also had a guitarist, a didgeridooer, and another percussionist. Our Quintet played at college events like ‘Battle of the Bands’ and ‘Pool Parties’, besides playing randomly outside in parks or at the beach. We recorded music in a SCAD sound studio, and made the soundtrack for a short film.

After I graduated in 2000, I was not able to find a similar drum circle in my home area, nor in all my travels; until 13 years later in Frederick Maryland. I would not even have found them probably, if not for Facebook and the ability for networking to find out about other locals. If not for Facebook it may have been a few more years before chance-fate allowed me to have a random encounter again outside in the Park. Drum Circle has changed my life.

Now that I am back with a drum circle on a regular basis, I feel a renewed sense of self-expression and common new-age communal values that have been so rare in Commercial American culture. Many of the mutual behaviors in drum circles, I have tried to express in my own life works (such as SCOD). Perhaps my spiritual belief in drum circle is deeply rooted in past tribal lives and my alternative Montesorri schooling; as my need for the ritual of drum circle is similar to the way many others must feel about attending a church or a more ‘professional band’ practice. Yet there is an alternative difference to drum circle that is very lacking in conventional traditions, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Some of the general ethics of drum circle groups include: freedom to join and play, bring your own instrument or respectfully play someone else’s, bring instruments to share if you want, and the desire to bliss out and allow others to do their thing.

Walton Drum

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Haunted Faery Drum Circle

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Events / Celebrations, Music Reviews, Pagan, POB Audio with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2013 by Drogo

Haunted Faery Drum Circle 2013

Halloween Musical Party in Harpers Ferry, WV

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Held at the Temple of the Four Winds (or Ways), a total of 14 people came together to share good vibes in various styles. Neighbors and friends from the surrounding area met from 8pm-12 Midnight the Friday before Halloween. 3 friends from Frederick Drum Circle stayed up all night around the stone camp-fire ring. telling stories and tending the sacred flame with mighty elm, nutty walnut, and wounded willow wood.

From Frederick Drum Circle came 3 powerful magi; Bran-Don Barn-Yard, Drumwise Ousse, and Drogo Empedocles; with drums, beaters, didges, and flutes. Linda Rago attended because she was a magical neighbor, and author of ‘Blackberry Cove Herbal’. Warren Eng appeared briefly to play Chinese medicine ball chimes. 2 other neighbors across the way showed up for a bit. Princess Puchala of the dark magic band Full Blush brought 2 mighty friends. The famous guitarist Ben Harrison showed up with 2 friends as well. Lastly, the legendary John Brown Kodiak arrived in time to rap some lyrics to a bluegrass-new-age epic jam session. A type of ‘New-Grass’ sound emerged, and resonated through the week to the Holy All Souls Night.

Linda Rago held a ‘Rune Reading’ session in the Temple for half of the gathering. However the half of the gathering remained centered around the Fire Ring, despite that it remained 40 degrees all night. The primal elemental energy around the Fire Pit created a magical energy, which fed all night, resonated and flowed the following week.

Several audio recordings were made featuring various musicians during the night; uploaded to Soundcloud and Youtube. They are simply meant as memory meditation guides, because Night Magick is impossible to capture. Yet somehow we recharge our spirit energy at the Well of Mimir, and the Flame of the Four Ways! Harpers Ferry has remained a favorite haunt of faeries, and to this day you can still hear their music, if you listen for it and follow it in your dreams.

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Savannah, Georgia

Posted in Alternative Architecture, Historic Architecture, Organic Architecture, Recommendations & Tributes, Sustainability with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2013 by Drogo

Historic Architecture, Environmental Landscape, and Urban Social Art

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Savannah has the historic integrity of an ivy-league campus, yet for the poor as well as rich. Yes, it is very much the old pirate ‘Port Royal’ still, but in some ways it also surpasses the nobility of elite university campuses. Even the SCAD (Savannah College of Art & Design) campus is spread throughout the city, and SCAD classes are held in renovated industrial buildings, often with Richardsonian strength; so that liberal education is fully-integrated with the city. As far as competing with modern industrial metropolitan cities, Savannah has plenty of modern and post-modern architecture, and SCAD teaches cutting-edge technology; but it has no desire to be as massively impersonal as New York, or any other major city.

Savannah urban design is overwhelmingly utopian, despite there being dystopian flavors as well. The main streets force cars to either park or drive around the eleven park squares (circuses), while pedestrians can go straight through on sidewalks and bike lanes. It is easy to find any place in the formal city because there are no diagonal streets, one tall building in the middle (DeSoto Hotel), and a few tall buildings downtown parallel with the Savannah River. The downtown main-streets (River Street) on Saint Patrick’s Day are celebrated on par with Mardi-Gras. There are so many unique aspects to Savannah, from its very origins. The basic ‘Roman encampment’ grid urban layout is flavored by multiple circuses with vegetation. Live-oaks, palms, and crepe-myrtle trees are naturally hung with Spanish moss. From sandy soil hedges, herbs, flowers and grasses are also publicly grown for the enjoyment of all.

I will find out more about the city founders, besides Oglethorpe; specifically the Native American chief of the local Creek Indians, because he seems to deserve the same level of respect as the English founder, Oglethorpe. The British and Indians were friends, and one of the largest monuments in a prominent park is dedicated to the Indian Chief’s grave. Southern hospitality is less surface courtesy in Savannah, and more a part of its essence; in regards to integration of whites and blacks, international representation, multi-culturalism, and willingness to welcome even enemies (like General Sherman during the Civil War).

There are several ways to consider the social types that comprise the ‘daily population’ of Savannah. There are five basic social types; the rich residents (white blue-blood aristocracy and new-money millionaires), the poor working-class (merchant and service residents and workers), the street beggars (homeless, hustlers, artists), SCAD students (artists, professors, staff), and tourists (pedestrian, trolley, horse-buggy).

According to Dr. Hsu-Jen Huang (SCAD Architecture Professor), Savannah has been growing, even during the recession. In ten years, the city population and SCAD enrollment have doubled. Some buildings still fall between the cracks, but for every loss two more renovations or new constructs emerge. After the 1994 book Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil, Savannah has continued to blossom as one of the best cities in the World. Many of its qualities were always inherent in the original urban design, and it continues to grow because of accepted differences.

From the American Revolution, to the Civil War, and beyond; Savannah embraces its strange stories. It has an other-worldly, old world, old town feel. Ghost tours are quite at home with the lamp-lights, cobblestone streets, brick walkways, and French ironwork balconies. It is in fact a small city; one which favors pedestrian traffic more than automobiles. The whole downtown is walkable, and locals often easily commute with bicycles as well (as I did for 3 years).

There are so many fun things to do there, it might be hard to know were to begin; if Savannah were not an immediately immersible, hospitable environment. The whole city is a memory garden, which literally blooms because of all the flowers. There are less flowers and leaves in the Winter, but Fall, Winter, and Spring are best weather-wise; as there is rarely snow, and Summers are often walls of heat and humidity (which it is known for even during Fall and Spring).

Architecturally Savannah is truly unique, with historic world and southern romantic blends. Town-houses often have the side-porch design, as with nearby Charleston, SC. The cast-iron railings and french dormers have that New Orleans feel. Parks and trees really do make a huge difference for traffic. Even while continuing to grow, Savannah is still one of the most colorful and pedestrian friendly cities in America. I can say after living there, the magic is real; including the variety of character personalities that the famous book alludes to.

Midnight In the Garden of Good & Evil describes much of the architectural and social feel of the town. ‘Midnight’ the book has much more analysis of detail, while the film has literally has more visual images. I lived in three parts of town, and often passed by famous landmarks on daily commutes to classes. The main character’s house (Mercer Mansion) is on Bull Street along a square, towards the largest city park, Forsyth Park. Forsyth Park was my favorite park that I loved living on, because of the large open grass lawns, largest and most beautiful fountain, organic paths, and shady flora. There I was free to publicly practice Tai-Chi, hippy folk music, or jogging without much bother.

Most of this essay describes the utopian aspects of Savannah, but this paragraph should put some of the dystopian perspectives in context. The poor and the dead, out-number the rich and the living. Southern swamp-lands naturally have a salty entropic power that corrodes metals, moisture that promotes the decay of organic matter, and massive humidity that stifles productive activity, while encouraging roaches and gnats. The humane social ‘decadence’ of the town, allows for an ease of poverty. Kindness tolerates and sometimes falls prey to hustlers. Vandalism and theft are common crimes in Savannah, with the occasional mugging (typical of cities in general). Although crimes are committed by lower classes, the majority (which are poor) are respectful, lawful, and often generous. So you see despite the ‘scariness’, actual dangers are minimal for a city.

Savannah’s name appropriately indicates the climate heat, and the flat field look of the surrounding wetland marsh grasses. Old pirate maps referred to the lands inland along the River as ‘Savannah Land’. Google Street view is very impressive, with realism. It really helps get the feel for the freedom of moving through the town by photographic vista. In the 1990’s we were taking panoramic photos for architecture projects so it really feels appropriate. Day trips easily include the famous Bonaventure Cemetery, Oatland Island Wildlife Center, and Tybee Island Beach.

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