Heading North

It’s Saturday morning and I am heading northwards to cross the border into Scotland. I arrive in time to catch up with some old friends and my fellow drummer but remain invisible to the workshop participants for whom I have agreed to drum.

I am to be a ‘Drum Spirit’ at a Shamanic dance workshop. The dancers, who have been working all day together, process out into the night, their way lit by candles held out in front. They wind their way up the hill to a clearing in the woods, where myself and my partner  Drum Spirit are waiting for them, masked and costumed to represent our other worldliness. We break into 6/8 rhythm and lock together, weaving our spell across the space in front. From behind my mask of straw, dangling downward to hide my face, I spy shadows of movement, caught and thrown around by the licking flames of the fire. Is it the fire or is it the dancer creating this movement? Or perhaps the drum. In reality there is a merging of spirits. Those of the dancers. Those of us drummers. Those of the Fire. Those of the wind. Time shifts and moves with the rhythms and we engage in a moment to moment experience of NOW.

The music eventually winds down in volume and tempo as the dancers complete their movements. We ‘Drum Spirits’ make ourselves scarce but not without shenanigans with drums and vans in mud and giggles!!!!

I sleep a few hours and I am in the van and heading further north. My destination is The Findhorn Foundation nr Forres in Morayshire. The journey is incredible. A beautiful crisp spring day.The further north I go the more spectacular the scenery. Snow capped mountains cut jagged lines into the blueness of the sky, Everything feels like it is fully alive today, me included. I make a few stops just to step out of the van and breathe the clean air ( and take some photos) I arrive at my host Carol’s house and we load some extra drums into her car and head for Findhorn which is 3 miles away. (A big thanks to Carol for organising and for being a fantastic hostess)

We land in plenty of time and begin to set the circle. All the time we are chatting about the set up, the circle to come, as I have agreed to Mentor Carol, a new trainee from the Arthur Hull training I currently manage. We are just done bringing drums in from the vehicles when the first drummers arrive. Before you can say 1,2 let’s all play there are 50 people in the room and the groove is on. As well as all our drums and percussion we have a visiting guitarist from Holland. A very sensitive soul, he listens well and weaves a wonderfully simple melody around the rhythms.

Our community is a mixture. Men, women and children, young and old. I run through a variety of techniques, all designed to connect the group to itself, and the community in the room responds by producing music that is deep and connected.

It is magical. See for yourself. Click on the image below for larger file.


We drum, sing and enjoy a guest Boomwhacker slot from Steve Sharpe. It is a perfect example of a Community Drum Circle. I wish I had filmed it now. (Note to future self). Two hours pass effortlessly and we close. The feedback from people is heartwarming. Carol has witnessed her first full Facilitated circle and this will hopefully help her towards her goals.

We head off to the pub for a welcome ale and a view to savour across Findhorn Bay. We have a wonderfully chilled musical jam in the evening, a fine curry and a good nights kip in my own caravan space.

The following day I visit the Studio of Andrea Turner a local Artist and fellow drummer. Her work at present is connecting in with the Findhorn river that runs through the area and to see the work up close is a real treat. I also mange to get some more  photography in before heading back to the caravan. In the morning I am away.

I stop in Glasgow to visit my daughter and to chat with her about her upcoming show and am reminded once more of her amazing talent. I am a very proud dad.


I have in recent months been struggling to get enough work. The economy is affecting what I do for money. My income has fallen to dangerously low levels and I face a period of financial ruin. I will, I am sure survive the next phase, and as I prepare to enter into Bankruptcy and I know from this weekend that my passion for what I do remains unaffected.

In fact this weekend in the country of Single Malt Whisky, of which I am fond, I have found that my own Spirit has been distilled.

I am now in possession of a purer form of what lies within.

It bodes well for the road ahead.

img source


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