Dunedin Brewery Drum Circle

Drum Circles in Casual Drinking Establishments: Craft Brewerys, Winerys, Pubs, Nightclubs, Bars, & Cafe's

I hosted this drum circle every Tuesday night for 3 years. My hope was that it would become firmly established and become a fixture and continue on long after I moved out of the area. It still goes on some 8 years later, and that makes me very happy. I'd like to do something similar to the brewery drum circle here in the River City, and I'm searching for a venue that can hold around 100+ that's open to the idea of a weekly drum circle night. Please contact me if you're interested, or if you know of someone else that might be, so we can talk about it. (In the Saint Louis, MO. area only.) I'm open to starting a bi-weekly or monthly drum circle, but weekly is always better because if people know it's there for them every week, it grows faster. Many become regulars and never miss a night, but others will come once or twice a month.

Here's a little history on the brewery circle, & some general info on drum circles at casual drinking establishments:
While living in Florida, I got the idea to start my own drum circle in 2005. I was looking for an indoor venue somewhere that was air conditioned. I liked drumming to the sunset at the beach, but the summers there are very hot, and the sand gets all up in your drums. I tried approaching a few night clubs and bars with the idea, but no success. Everyone I spoke with said it would never work, and many drummers said that trying to facilitate a drum circle at a place that serves alcohol is crazy. I went to a local brewery now and then. I loved the vibe of the place. I noticed that Tuesday was their slowest night of the week. So having a drum circle seemed like a good alternative to the Tuesday chess and techno music night that was going on at the time. I stopped in one afternoon and pitched the idea to the bar manager. He was reluctant at first, but after persisting with the idea for a few weeks, he agreed to try it out. The condition was that I would receive no pay unless they turned a profit in two weeks. It was a risky venture because of the drinking, and possible damage to my drums, but it worked. Within a month, the word had spread around, the place was packed, and it was hopping.

My formula was similar to that of an open mic night. I invited local drummers, band members, drum makers, teachers, and instructors to come attend. In return for jamming with us, they could promote their items, shows, classes and workshops. I did the same with bellydancing studios. The key to it was making it fun, and accessable to everyone so they would want to come back. Variety was the thing. The rhythms needed to be challenging and interesting for the experienced musicians, but also not so complex that the beginners didn't feel lost. An easy way to do that, is playing rhythms from different cultures. Uptempo Latin and African rhythms, as well as slower Native American, Bellydance, R & B Groove, and improv. That way, the variety keeps everyone wanting to come back next week. Some drum circles can fall into this pattern of playing the same default beat most of the time. That gets a little boring and frustrating for everybody. The local drum circle took off right from the start. Like I mentioned, attracting musicians so they would come in and jam, and not charging a fee or cover at the door is what made it work. We just used the honor system to get people in. They wanted to support it and promote it, and it worked. Most musicians don't like to pay a cover charge or a fee to get in. (Especially with drum circles.) But they will buy a beer, soda, or food once they are in there, and network to their friends. It was a bit of a challenge to host an on going drum circle at a casual drinking establishment, but the vibe was always good, people had a blast, and the musicianship was even better. Three hours would go by like it was one. I noticed right away that almost all the locals would drink in moderation, so it never really became an issue. But sometimes, things do get damaged.

That circle became so popular, that musicians and onlookers came from all around Tampa, St. Pete, and even as far as Orlando just to check it out and play. We even had out of town musicians show up, usually while on vacation. Some of the other local clubs got pissed and tried to get it shut down at a city counsel meeting. They made claims that it was all riff-raff in there. Unfortunately for them a few of the board members were regulars at the circle and told them the truth. It is mostly decent professional working people from all walks of life, different backgrounds, and paths with demanding careers that just want to make music with new friends, be part of a social scene, drum out some stress and have a little fun. It was culturally diverse, and it brought our community together. How can you argue against that? Around the country many night clubs, bars, and coffee shops are struggling to find working formulas for weeknights. Having a drum circle night quickly builds up a community around it with a loyal following that grows very quickly. The cost to do this is minimal, I've been doing this successfully for years at various venues. What's really needed is an organizer to help keep things running smoothly, and promote the drum circle. I look for a small base pay, tips, or a percentage of sales like 10%. Because believe me, there is a lot of work involved. Also it isn't the drummers, musicians, or dancers that do the majority of buying your products. They will help support the venue and buy one or two, but it's the onlookers who are attracted and who will be buying most of the drinks and/or food. And it takes a few months to really get a drum circle community built up and established. I go into this in much more detail in my blog posts, and Kindle book about drum circles.

On my drum circle blog, I wrote a long post about starting up a drum circle in pubs, clubs, cafe's and casual drinking establishments. There are lots of helpful hints for getting a circle going, ideas, tips, and lots more. Have a look:

Drum Circle World Blog at blogspot.com

Check out some of the photos from the brewery drum circle below. There's a short video from Fat Tuesday below them.

"More Cowbell" drum circle mp3 free download

A clip from one of the more memorable nights at the brewery drum circle. The Fat Tuesday circle was so large it had to be held in the parking lot. When a Scottish bagpiper walked by in the parade he came back later and joined us for the Mardi Gras drum circle. We played for about 4 hours that night, costumed characters from the parade came over and danced in their costumes. It was a night filled with fun, great drumming, & we had some good belly dancers too! Ron plopped his camera down on top of this old galopy, & caught this video. The first few minutes are shaky, but the groove settled in.

In Memory of my best friend, drummer and musician Jim Tonak Photos & Memories of Jim Tonak aka Cheeseadiddle

Watch a few drum circle rhythms in this video clip from my 2 hour DVD 101 Drum Circle Rhythms. It's $10 + $2 shipping. A Free drum circle CD is included. My 300 page hand drumming and drum circle book is $8 on Kindle or Nook. Please visit the main site link below for more info. My rhythms DVD is on Amazon Instant Video for $14. (But no free CD at Amazon.)

Check out my drum circle finder, where you can locate drum circles near you in your state. Established in 1999, there's over 1000 listed & still growing. Also a global drum circle finder. The listings are updated monthly. Please visit www.drumcircles.net or click the link below, to go to the drumcircles.net main page.

drumcircles.net home page

There is increasing recognition of the health benefits of music therapy, particularly facilitated hand drumming, which is what I do for a living. Unfortunately, places where the people who benefit the most, such as senior centers and special needs can not afford to pay for this. If you would be willing to make a contribution of any amount to help me provide this therapeutic music for free, please click on the Paypal button below.

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