Bruce Aitkens isn’t worried about drumming up interest for his event. His event drums up interest for itself. In fact the organizer of the Cape Breton International Drum Festival is pleasantly surprised that an idea formed over a pint of Guinness has taken on a life of its own.
Aitkens, a drummer originally from Australia, now living in Cape Breton, says that his adopted home is a great draw, not only for those coming to enjoy the Festival, but those coming to perform as well. The serenity and beauty of Cape Breton are also a big attraction, admits Aitkens, especially in view of what’s happening in the world right now.
The Festival, only in its second year, already has a great buzz going along the festival circuit, due in part to the success of last year’s event and partly to the artists appearing this year.
The Drumfest committee has just released the names of three of the fifteen artists that will be featured at the April Festival. Drum aficionados everywhere will recognize the names of these players: Zoro, Walfredo Reyes Jr., and Paul Wertico. And if you don’t recognize their names, you’ll certainly recognize the people with whom they’ve played.
Zoro is a high profile R&B drummer who has provided the groove for Lenny Kravitz, Bobby Brown, Jodi Watley, Frankie Valley and was also part of the Earth Wind and Fire All Star Band. He is also the author of “The Commandments of R&B Drumming” and has a video of the same name. Zoro lives in Los Angeles but travels the world playing and doing drum clinics.
Paul Wertico from Chicago (the city not the band) is the recipient of countless awards and is considered by many to be one of the top three jazz drummers in the world. Over the years he has played with many musical heavy weights including Pat Metheny, Larry Coryell, Herbie Mann, Randy Brecker, bass great Jaco Pastorius and Ron Carta.
Walfedo Reyes Jr. is a percussionist known as a virtual one-man band. His list of credits is impressive as it lists Santanta, Jackson Brown, Ricky Martin, Gloria Estefan, Toni Braxton and Rickie Lee Jones. Most recently “Wally” appeared in the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games with Robbie Robertson and the Native Drummers.
Bruce Aitkens likes to point out that The Cape Breton International Drum Festival is “not about drum solos and who can play the loudest or the fastest.” There are no workshops either. The motto of this Festival is “education through performance”.
It is this idea that many find appealing, another reason why the big names want to be involved. Those watching will get to see masters of drumming and percussion and listen to the stories, sometimes histories, of the genre of playing. There are as many kinds of playing as there are countries on this planet, and since the beginning of time, the drum has been the heartbeat of the world.
Performances are scheduled to begin at 12 noon and will go on throughout the day. In addition to the performances, there is also a free trade show open to the public. Bruce Aitkens is pleased at the support the Drumfest has received, including that from sponsors.
“We have national sponsors like Sabian Cymbals and even here at home, places like Musicstop have been unbelievable.” He says, his Aussie accent still apparent, ” It makes all the difference to have people like that behind you.”
The Delta Hotel is even offering a cut rate for anyone coming to the festival. Tickets are already selling off Island. The Cape Breton International Drum Festival runs on the 27th and 28th of April. For more information visit www.cbdrumfest.com.