I meet up with the Dragon Drummers to talk about Glastonbury, community and keeping to the beat.
It’s one of those wonderful warm
I try taking lots of deep breaths and concentrating on the birdsong, but the Yorkshireman has had two large coffees and a can of Red Bull and will not stop talking. Silence is achieved, eventually, but only when I resort to shouting ‘Shut up!’ and by then it’s time to head back to town.
The Drummers meet up at the Yeast
Outside the Scrapstore there are sixteen drummers in a circle. I’ve never really paid attention before, but now I’ve got time to sit and watch. I observe how the drums are all different and how each performs its own role in the whole sound. I look round the circle trying to work out if someone is in charge, and notice Janet, slight and red-haired, playing one of the smaller drums, communicating with sharp looks and subtle hand movements.
After a few tunes they drum their way into the Scrapstore. I’m desperate for a cup of tea. There has to be tea, I speculate on what biscuit choices drummers make. I find everyone chatting good-naturedly, there is no sign of tea. I sneak into the kitchen to make
I learn that the idea for the group came about when artist Yuri Leitch, who’d built the first small dragon heads in 2010, was painting a mural in Janet’s house and
The emblem of the Dragon Drummers features the red and white dragons, symbolising the interplay of earth energies at the turning of the seasons. The White Dragon triumphant at the beginning of Winter, giving way to the Red Dragon as we turn to Summer. Perhaps it’s inevitable then that the drumming group experienced their own battle for supremacy. Richard tells me “I’ve always been the leader”, but Janet acknowledges there was a time she wanted to take charge, she tells me she soon realised how hard it is to lead and what a good job Richard does.
Janet adds “It’s helped us all grow in confidence, we’ve learned teamwork and realised it’s necessary to
We join the rest of the group, the banter is good-natured and kind, they describe themselves as a “bunch of Glastonbury misfits who all love drumming, we’ve become
Teagan, with her pink frock, lipstick and swishy hair is
Turns out none of them are averse to dressing up, they’ve gone very creative with the uniform, around a black, red and white theme, with face paints and light-up drum sticks for Samhain. These photos are by ban
I learn that there are two tomtom sections and a bass section; they have to grow the group evenly, with the big drums keeping the beat. They
We go back outside where I take photos in the
The next day I received this message from Mar, a younger member of the group:
“I would like to share what the group makes me feel. I am from Spain, ever since I was little I loved everything related to the medieval time, witches, magic and the Celtic culture.
Music is also a very important part in my life and I always wanted to join a drumming band, my heart beats to the beat of the drums. So when I saw the Dragon Drummers at their first performance with the Dragons a year ago I fell in love immediately. It was only at the beginning of this year when I got the courage to ask and finally join them.
Now, when it’s time for the dragons to fight, I am not a viewer anymore, I drum to their dance, I walk with them, I’m part of it!… I am in my element”.
The Dragon Drummers are keen to play at more events, so if you’d like them to come along to yours get in touch. You can find them on Facebook at Dragon Drummers, or watch them on this video.
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