'If you're a drummer, get down here' – Hundreds rock Tacoma Woodstick

Staff writerNovember 24, 2013 

People could hear the hundreds of drummers before they saw them.

And that’s the best thing about the instruments, 7-year-old Hans Fassnidge said Sunday from behind his three-piece set at the Emerald Queen Casino in Tacoma.

“They’re loud!” the Duvall boy shouted over his fellow musicians with a smile that stretched between his orange ear plugs.

The 2013 Woodstick Big Beat, in its 11th year, has been held in Tacoma some years, farther north in others.

It set the world record for the most drummers playing at once, with 533 in 2005 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle (Qwest Field at the time). A British charity broke that record last year when 798 drummers gathered in Manchester, England.

Coordinator Donn Bennett, owner of the Donn Bennett Drum Studio in Bellevue, said he didn’t expect to break the record Sunday but that fundraising had been successful.

The event had brought in about $10,000 beforehand, Bennett said, and he expected more to come in the day of.

Proceeds go to GROOVE Music for Youth, the Tacoma-Pierce County Crime Stoppers program that puts instruments in schools.

Orting High School was the beneficiary of $15,000 worth of drum line equipment, bought with proceeds from last year’s Woodstick. The school’s drum line strutted its stuff with the new gear Sunday.

“It’s a great turnout,” said Pierce County sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer, who was there on behalf of Crime Stoppers. He didn’t say which school would be getting new drums this year.

“We’re working with a couple different schools,” Troyer said.

Then there were some of the world’s best drummers waiting to perform Sunday.

That seems like hyperbole — until celebrities such as Alan White take the stage.

More than 40 years ago, White played for the recording of John Lennon’s “Instant Karma” and the album “Imagine.” The drum set he played Sunday was the same one he used for those and other hits, he said.

His band, Yes, was recently nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He’s played Woodstick all but one year.

“There’s a bunch of good musicians down here in Tacoma,” said White, who lives in the Seattle area. “Why not do it here? It’s great, because there’s all these up-and-coming drummers from all walks of life. One year, I think there was a woman over 80.”

One of those budding percussionists was Kama Balderson, 12, who came from Puyallup with his dad.

“Just having a drum, making beats” is what it’s all about, Kama said.  He’llbe back next year to play, he said.

Then there were veterans, such as 67-year-old Chris Nissen of Enumclaw, who said he’s been playing drums since he was 10.

“I like looking at the drums, and just watching people play,” he said.

He was also there with his son, 45-year-old Ian, who said his dad taught him a thing or two about percussion.

“Good to get your anger out,” the younger Nissen said with a laugh.

Max Dixon, 12, of Kenmore said he’s been playing drums for about a year and was very impressed with Woodstick.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “If you’re a drummer, get down here. Just pack up your set.”

The best thing about drums, Max said, is that “you get to move things around and … ” As words failed him, the crash of his cymbal finished the thought.

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268




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