by Charmie Gholson
Outside the historic Stockbridge Township Hall, an older gentleman wearing a John Deere hat calls to me from his truck, "Miss, is this where the drumming thing is?" "Yes, sir," I shout. My boys and I are sharing a snack on the bench in the picture-perfect town square before going in.
That same man stops on his way into the performance to tease my four-year-old in a very grandfatherly way. There's something I don't see too often in "the city" older men initiating friendly interactions with my kids. Most men are annoyed by children or, at best, ignore them.
I wonder how these quaint village locals will respond to Repercussions, five women in shimmering clothes who play drums fiercely and sing for the Spirits. For fifteen years Repercussions, all of whom have day jobs, have been sharing their obsession with world music, rhythm, and instruments with audiences all over Michigan. And now they're in Stockbridge.
Babies, children, young teens, couples, and older folks fill the auditorium. We've missed the beginning because I had to take my son to the bathroom, but from the basement of the 103-year-old building, we heard drumming, singing, and a fine roar at the finish.
Upstairs, the stage is covered with at least twenty drums of various materials, sizes, and shapes, plus many other percussive critters I was able to identify cowbells, standing djembes, congas, a flute, shakers, shells strung together, and a rain stick. One performer is explaining the huge, C-shaped xylophone from Ghana that has both a tone from its keys and a vibration from the gourds suspended underneath them. Smoke and fire are used to tune the keys. Children in Ghana collect spider egg sacs from the corners of rooms and spread them over holes cut in the gourds to create a vibration. Apparently in the United States we don't use spider egg material, but thin cigarette papers instead.
Some of the songs are surprisingly peaceful. Judy
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