The day I first drummed outside my home turf
These last few weeks have been hectic. Notably, a few days ago, I travelled to a different county altogether to rehearse and play drums.
Many of you know that I am based in Preston; I recently travelled to Manchester to rehearse and to play drums with a friend's band, as I was a nonprofit stand-in for a drummer friend who was double-booked through no fault of her own. She asked the drummer friends she knew; I was the only one able. I used her kit, bringing only a portion of my drum stands in a suitcase onboard a train for the rehearsal. On the actual day of the performance, I was fortunate to have a friend drive me to the venue.
As someone who had never previously drummed outside of my home county, I find it empowering, the exercise of travelling elsewhere to perform. Even travelling is a privilege, if I'm honest. I take it for granted sometimes that my music, my voice, and my drums are heard by many people around the world thanks to the internet. Having said all this, though, I get a real sense that my horizons are expanding when I am called upon to perform in an area outside of my own.
On the day of the rehearsal, I caught up with my friend, and met her bandmates for the first time. I drummed for three hours, taking some slight breaks for tea or for moments when I or other bandmates weren't sure about certain passages. I felt my legs turning to jelly and my shoulders reeling with pain at the end of the exercise.
But to everyone present, it was clear that I enjoyed every moment of it.
The band performed at a cèilidh -- which is pronounced KAY-lee, and, for those of you who don't know what one is, it is a gathering with Scottish or Irish folk dance and music (Irish sp. céilí; I used the Scottish Gaelic spelling as that is what is generally what is used in the UK). I've long had a fondness for cèilidhs, as I used to dance in a good number of these a decade ago, and I enjoyed the experience. But, as was the case even then, I much prefer pounding out the beat to the dance, instead of dancing. Having people dance to my drumbeats is very empowering to me.
I saw the smiles on people's faces. Their positivity fuelled my drumming.
My drumming fuelled their dance, and they took part in it enthusiastically. I received many words of kindness from them and I was deeply moved. I made many friends that night. Looking back, I feel that my performance that night was one of my best by far, and I had the privilege of performing to one of the best audiences I've had by far, too -- kind and supportive and joyful. While I'm aware that I'm not going to be specifically drumming at cèilidhs every time I go out and play, it's nights like that beautiful, beautiful Saturday night that remind me of the joys of being a drummer.
While I'm at it, here are some photos from the night.
Would I do it again? Yes, actually. Yes, I would, and plenty.
The thought of thrilling new audiences in new places with my drumming fills me with deep joy, and I want to meet all sorts of different people and spread that joy.