On July 16, the Union Area Chamber of Commerce held their annual Founders Day pie social and concert.

Two bands played at this event, Bay Winds North and Breakers Jazz. I play percussion for both of them, though more primarily for Bay Winds.

The best part of the performance, for me, was the first song. I played the cymbal so hard that I broke a drum stick.

Apparently, I got a little too rock and roll. The song I was playing calls for multiple cymbal crashes, and right before the end I thought, “I am going to break a stick hitting it this hard…” Surely enough, on the last cymbal crash a three inch piece of my drum stick splintered off and went flying somewhere into the grass.

Whoops!

As I have said before, percussion is just a fancy musician word for drums. The reason I don’t just say “I play the drums” is because… I play a lot more than that.

Percussion instruments are anything played by hitting it with a hand, a stick or a pedal. In addition to the drums, here are a few of the instruments I have played in the course of my many years as a percussionist.

Cymbal, gong, maracas, tambourine, sleigh bells, slap-stick, triangle, cow bell, conga drums, bongo drums, wood block, the slide whistle and finger cymbals.

Here are a few of the “instruments” I have played in the course of my many years as a percussionist.

A typewriter, the squeaker from a dog toy, a cap gun (the music called for a literal pistol shot), jugs of water, a train whistle, a ship’s bell, a duck call, noise tubes and a sheet of metal.

I do have a piece of music that Bay Winds plays regularly which calls for an anvil. I do not have an anvil, and have been playing the cymbal for this part, but the sound is not quite right. Now that I have done some research, I think an empty scuba tank or fire extinguisher would achieve the same sound. Anyone have an empty scuba tank or fire extinguisher?

Anyway, that was an oppressively hot and humid day, and there had just been a flash rainstorm a few hours before. I looked like I had just gone swimming or gotten out of the shower.

The Union Area Chamber of Commerce was nearby selling pies and cold drinks, and were kind enough to give the musicians a slice of pie and I got a bottle of water as well (thank goodness).

We played at the Union Common, which is the town center with the gazebo. Coincidentally, Union is one of the towns I cover for my reporter beat. Of course, I could not cover this event, as I was actually performing. So the newspaper’s intern, Piper, came and took some photos. I later wrote a story about the event. If you check Piper’s photographs, you can see me way in the back, slowly dying from dehydration.

Due to the timing of the performance, I had to get everything ready the night before and bring it to work with me. The night before, I laid out all my music and put it in order in my binders.

Then, the next morning, I drove out to my storage unit and loaded my car up with the drum set before work. This consists of a snare drum, bass drum, ride cymbal and hi-hat cymbal.

I transport my snare drum in a red suitcase with wheels. The bass drum was retired by Rockland District High School many years ago. Parts of it are falling apart and some other parts of it are just plain missing. One leg was stolen off another broken bass drum and the other is a stick, but the drum works and it was free. The ride cymbal is balanced on a very thin stand and not held in place by any stretch of the imagination.

The hi-hat cymbal is actually very nice. The band purchased that brand new after some light whining on my part. It has never been maintained, though. Actually, I should probably do that. Anyone who knows about drum maintenance should email me.

Our next concert is Sunday, Aug. 8, at the Sail, Power and Steam Museum in Rockland at Sharp’s Wharf under the tent.