Rhythmic Roots: A Community Drumming Circle in Tallahassee
Tucked away behind a small smokehouse on the south side of Tallahassee, a long, downhill driveway leads to a gazebo overlooking a lake, where every Friday night the sound of freestyle drumming fills the air.
The outdoor entertainment venue is called The Hole. It’s behind Khufu’s Smokehouse, located at 3014 S. Adams St. “We’re a little off the beaten path,” said Robert Allen, who leads Rhythmic Roots, the drumming circle that meets there weekly. “We are at the edge of this lake, so few people can see us from the road.”
Allen says the drumming circle is open to everyone. “It’s open to anyone who has the pace. You have to have a rhythm, and anyone with a heartbeat has a rhythm,” he said. “It’s a community circle.”
Drums and percussion instruments are provided, although people can bring their own. Allen says he hopes more people living in the Southside will join the group.
The freestyle drumming circle known as Rhythmic Roots takes place at The Hole every Friday night between 7-10 p.m.
Another more formal drumming circle is held at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 2810 N. Meridian Rd. on the second Sunday of the month from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Several drum circles meet around Tallahassee. Every first Friday of the month, a drumming circle meets at Art Park located inside the Railroad Square Arts District. And others congregate at local parks throughout the month.
Participants describe the community experience as healing and a way to connect more with the land and with each other.
Allen is formally trained in traditional West African drumming. For him, the drums are a spiritual practice and an integral part of his life.
“Drums – that means everything to me,” he said. “Drums, to me, means balance. It’s synonymous with freedom, to me. Personally, drums are my connection to a past that was taken away from me, I feel it. I’m hypnotized by these rhythms Africans who all have a purpose.
You can hear Robert Allen talk more about the drumming tradition in WFSU’s upcoming podcast “Not So Black and White: A Community’s Divided History.”