November 11, 2014
USARD Returns to Corning, NY
Drummers are a strange lot. That’s an assumption that needs no verification, not if you are a drummer, know a drummer, or live or have lived with a drummer. The rudimental drum club, USARD, United States Association of Rudimental Drummers, is made up not just of drummers, but one might conclude, of “older” drummers. If drummers are strange, old drummers have refined their drumming uniqueness to the sharpness of a single rim shot.
On the weekend of November 8 and 9, a near dozen drummers who constitute the leadership of USARD, drove hundreds of miles, perhaps several thousand kilometers, to hold a planning session. (Few folks really know or care what a kilometer is; mentioning it in relation to distance is not unlike talking about hybrid rudiments while discussing traditional ones.) The meeting itself, held at the American Legion Post in Corning, appeared to be the least important meeting taking place, since there were officers of the American Legion continually entering the meeting room to make copies of important and likely secret documents. Simultaneously, a huge group of ladies filled the larger hall. They were holding a quilting session. Some might call that event a quilting bee, which would suggest, perhaps, that their quilts were filled with words that had been learned and memorized at an earlier spelling bee.
The dedication of the quilters may provide something for USARD to consider for the forthcoming convention in Danbury: we should call it a “Drumming Bee.” A new name, a divergent effort, would spell success for the convention. In addition to attracting drummers, the Drumming Bee might also attract lady quilters, who could be enticed to quilt covers for rope drums. And since the event would be a bee, any written names on those cases would be spelled correctly.
One wonders if there’s ever been a Drumming Bee. There is some precedent; drumming has long known “buzz” rolls, and some drummers perform rolls using butterfly strokes. There have been contests where a contestant attempts to pull the wooly bear caterpillars over a judges eyes.
At this USARD Drumming Bee there would be a contest to find some new rudiments. The beetlediddle seems a good place to start. Of course, there’d be permutations of these rudiments, and the beetlediddle would surely give birth to the dungbeetlediddle.
Solos would be composed; solos with names like “Honey Bee Mine,” a solo intended to lure female members to the club, and the “Dog Flea Drag,” a solo for walking one’s pet canine or scratching what itches.
As for the USARD planning session itself, when it ended, drummers/planners retired to their motel, where the most intense efforts of the day were put into preparing to go out to dinner that night in downtown Corning. Preparation included spreading out all sorts of food, opening sundry bottles of wine, and consuming most everything in sight. With the time for dinner looming, drummers carpooled to downtown Corning, where the lights decorating trees suggested it was Christmas. Dinner lasted for hours, in part because we’d been secluded on the second floor, in part because food came slowly, a good thing, since time was needed to digest the pre-dinner victuals. After three long hours of laughing and dining, the drummers returned to the hotel to resume their attack on all remaining snacks and bottles of wine.
It was reported, rumored really, that someone picked up drum sticks.
The next event will be in Danbury. It’s the annual convention. The name for that event remains to be determined.
– Bob Zarfoss