Note: Due to the coronavirus, we do not currently bring instruments or hoops to share at our events.
A brief history of the Raleigh Drum Circle
RDC was founded by Greg Whitt and first met at the Vineyard Coffee Shop on Western Blvd on September 16, 2002. The group was called the World Percussion Club at NC State and met in the Bragaw Hall lounge for about six months. Since parking was problematic and few students were participating, the group moved off campus and partnered with Raleigh Parks and Recreation.
Richard Costello welcomed the group to Lake Johnson Park on St. Patrick’s Day 2003. Monthly “Lake Johnson Jams” were held by the water year-round either in the conference room, on the deck or on the lawn through the end of 2011. The group operated as a registered non-profit, charging $3-$5 admission and sharing those proceeds with the park while using the rest to support operating costs.
In the early years RDC hosted workshops with guest teachers like Cathy Kieler, Rob Cantrell, Osei Appiagyei, Larry Taylor, and Khalid Saleem. A CD of field recordings and studio sessions from some of the members was created along with rhythm notation books. Through the group came ensembles like Ronnie Pulley’s Rhythmicity and Tony Griffin’s One Tribe Rhythms and a wide range of movement arts including African, Middle Eastern, and Hoop dance.
The Raleigh Hoop Jam
Carolyn Mabry, an internationally acclaimed hoop dance performer and teacher, started the weekly Raleigh Hoop Jam at Pullen Park on April 23, 2008. Carolyn invited the Raleigh Drum Circle to provide music for the jam. It is now a well-established arts program that is approachable and engaging, and is not supported by any public or corporate funding. Our volunteers bring instruments, hula hoops and expertise to share.
Drum Circle Leadership Change
Tony and Melissa Griffin took on the leadership of RDC in 2008 and grew it into a thriving community interest group that supports the Hoop Jam and other area events. Greg launched into drum circle facilitation full time in 2009 and focused on his business.
The Hoop Jam continues and has always been free. Together the drum circle and hoop jam create an occasion that gathers the community — people of all ages, origins and abilities — for recreational music-making, movement and dance. Hoop Jam draws people from all walks of life including families, students, teachers, techies, transplants, and seniors. In addition to drumming and hula hooping, most weeks have a turnout of jugglers, acro-yoga, and other circus artists.
The Birthday Bash
Each year RDC celebrates its birthday “bash” during one of the September gatherings. The Bash started as a showcase for performers and teachers from our community. It’s an opportunity to see what the other possibilities might be beyond freestyle jamming and movement. It’s the only fund-raising occasion that RDC hosts. Benefactors donate door prizes for a raffle that helps offset those operating costs that allow us to continue to bring drums and hoops to these weekly gatherings, and that pay for our website so that more people can find and enjoy this fantastic creative community.
Thank You to Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources, Pullen Park and Method Road Park and Staff for creating the space and providing chairs so that we can bring this activity to our community! Most winters the jam moves inside to Method Road Park.
Keep up with the latest drumming-related events on www.facebook.com/RaleighDrumCircle
Feel free to contact us for more information!