"I like the idea that before the Lilith Fair, there was Lilith," says Amy Martin, a local percussion fixture known to most through her tireless work with drumming circles and the various Solstice celebrations here. "You know, originally, women were on equal footing with men in the various temples and religions--if not the leaders," she says.
As part of her interest in both ceremony and drumming, Martin is bringing renowned drummer Layne Redmond to Dallas September 20, 21, and 22, where she will promote her new book, When the Drummers Were Women, lecture, hold workshops, and then join and perform at an autumn equinox celebration at White Rock Lake.
Redmond plays the tambourine, an instrument that is seldom given its due, according to Martin. "People think of it as something you whack," she says, adding that its deployment in rock groups and gospel performances does little to dispel that image. "It's a drum that needs some respect brought back to it."
If anyone can accomplish that daunting task, it's Redmond, who was a protege of the great drummer Glen Velez. "She's one of the best frame drummers in the world," Martin says (a frame drum is a drum wider than it is deep, and typically has only one head). "She incorporates a lot of different styles, from the intricate South Indian and Middle Eastern styles all the way to North Africa, touching on elements of Sufi."
"She's absolutely incredible," agrees John Bryant of D'Drum, the brilliant local percussion ensemble whose members are all taking time out to attend Redmond's lecture.
Redmond's visit isn't just to redeem the tambourine, though. Martin would also like to return to the male-dominated field of hand drumming a measure of what she feels is its essentially feminine roots. "If you go back far enough, you find that a lot of hand drums were originally domestic utensils; the frame drum was originally a sieve for sifting grain," she explains, noting that the oldest representation of human being playing a drum is that of a woman, found in a temple in eatal Huyuk (in the Anatolia region of Turkey) that dates from 5800 B.C. So far the response has been good--tickets to the weekend's events, which will also feature opportunities to buy drums and drum-related stuff, have been sold to folks as far away as Oklahoma, San Antonio, and Houston--and even surprising. Even though many Christians seem to regard the current fascination with drumming as vaguely devilish--if not downright Satanic--Martin reports that she's "had quite a few women who have indicated that they'll be taking back what they buy or learn to their churches."
Although the lectures and book-related events will only involve Redmond playing "snippets" from her repertoire, her appearance at the equinox celebration (at Winfrey Point on the western shore of White Rock Lake) Monday, September 22, will see her perform with partner Tommy Bruntes. "For most of her visit she'll be more of an educator, but at the equinox celebration, you'll be able to see her as a musician," Martin promises.
For more information on Layne Redmond's visit, call (214) 823-DRUM.
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