A Statewide Drum Circle Takes Over Colorado on Thursday Night

A statewide drum circle is coming on Thursday, April 30.
A statewide drum circle is coming on Thursday, April 30. Kyle Harris
Howling at 8 p.m. each night has been a comfort for many during the COVID-19 shutdown. Now Colorado's music scene is taking the noise a step further at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 30, and asking people to join in a statewide drum-circle-inspired experience called Colorado Drums Forward.

Behind the collaboration are jazz club Dazzle owner Donald Rossa, who picked the date because it's International Jazz Day, and co-organizer Jimmie Dean, president of the Denver Music Group, along with Colorado Business Committee for the Arts and Colorado Creative Industries.

"[The event] is an artful communication campaign to help all Coloradans gain a sense of community and solidarity during this time of social distancing," the Colorado Drums Forward mission statement reads. "The idea is to use the concept of a 'drum circle' to allow individuals to participate in a singular event. It is a way to non-verbally communicate with family and neighbors around the state."

Anyone interested in participating can grab something that can be used as a drum, from actual drums to cans, buckets or boxes, and set up on their porch, sidewalk or yard at 7 p.m. and play for a few minutes or so.

“Drumming is people communicating with each other and trying to keep a rhythm going,” Rossa says. “But being in rhythm with each other, or improvising within the rhythm — it's just making music, and the easiest form to do so.”

Like many business owners, Rossa went through a tough patch at the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown. But he says there was only so much grieving he could do before he had to move on and foresee what business would be like when venues are allowed to open again: Would he have to reduce his capacity and cut back the number of musicians performing at one time?

In the meantime, Dazzle is showcasing local musicians on an online stage, where visitors have a chance to donate to artists directly.

Colorado Drums Forward is Rossa and his fellow organizers' attempt to bring live music back to Colorado — even when venues aren't opening up any time soon.

“We have to show people that this is our time in history,” Rossa says. “I keep reading back to the last pandemic. And what happened after that last one? The Roaring Twenties. There was the introduction of jazz and things like that. So there's a lot of things back in that time that says: Okay, let's move it forward. We have something to look back on. It's the same. How you can use a road map there? Let's use it. And that's what we're intending on doing.”

Grab your drums, pots, pans and other beatable objects and set up on your porch, yard or sidewalk at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 30, for Colorado Drums Forward. Play for a few minutes, and have fun with the rest of the state.
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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon