By Jennifer L. Warren
BEACON – Last Thursday night at Beacon’s Long Dock Waterfront, it would have been pretty tough to miss Kevin R. Johnson ad Paul Starling.
Not only do both leanly built men stand over six feet, four inches tall, but they tap and pound on their own custom-made African drums, creating a mesmerizing, rhythmic beat like few others in the business. Johnson, sporting his signature, distinct straw hat, angled just to his liking, along with circular glasses (all part of his “brand” personality), is the originator as well as administrator of the group he has been a member of for over 20 years: The Woodstock Drum Circle, who perform under the platform of “Magic Meadow on the Village Green.” In addition to those impressive titles, he is the owner of Timekeepers Drums, where he makes his own instruments. For the first time in his storied music career he made the trek- along with his Circle’s Assistant Administrator, the equally talented: Starling, to the Lower Hudson Valley, combining both of their drumming talents with the Beacon Drum Circle. The result was pure magic.
“I really, really enjoyed myself,” reflected the humble Johnson about the premiere night of the two Circles joining forces. “We and the Beacon group really came together nicely, producing a good flow, and the ambience of the Hudson River in the background is just an incredible asset to have while playing music.”
An asset is exactly how Stephanie Tuck, Administrator of the Beacon Drum Circle, sees both Johnson and Starling to her Circle. After having Starling join in on and “enjoy the different vibe and positive mind set” at the weekly Thursday Long Dock drumming the week prior, she knew his reaction would quickly spread to his good friend Johnson and could not have been more excited to get Paul, who she has been friends with for seven years, to join in on the fun mix. Aside from their indisputable, long-standing drumming prowess, the veteran duo possesses many other priceless intangibles.
“Both of these men truly epitomize the original Woodstock- Bethel spirit; they are both just so laid back and modest,” said Tuck of her two close music friends. “They both bring so much good to the universe, and they have helped the Beacon Drum Circle to become better by playing all together while making a more fluent rhythm.
The potent impact of that convergence was in full blossom Thursday evening as the late August intense sun beat down on the Hudson River, beautifully enveloping the last moments of light of the day while creating a mystical backdrop. Two high-statured men- in more ways than just height- could be seen blending their drumming passion with the regular Beacon Drum Circle entourage; however, there was nothing routine about the sounds being produced.
From the appreciative, clapping and dancing crowd that gathered around to catch a glimpse of these impromptu melodies, to the very participants themselves, Long Dock was momentarily transformed to a place of community bonding, uplifting hope and just sheer happiness, shaking with currents of people making each other better- honing their craft- while lifting up everyone around them. It was exactly the way a drum circle was intended to be…..for all to enjoy….right here in Beacon.
The Thursday Beacon Drum Circles continue through at least Mid-September from 6-8pm. Look for them on Facebook to keep up with their special happenings as well as guest appearances.