Town Crier: Oakland, get ready for drummers of every genre

MONTCLARION: September 19, 2014

Oakland has always marched to a different drummer. But who knew we were the mecca of world percussion? Musician Robert Wallace thinks there are more drummers here, per capita, than anywhere else except — maybe — Salvador, Brazil.

“We have world-class drummers in virtually every musical genre,” Wallace says. “Congolese, Ethiopian, funk, Brazilian, R&B, Senegalese, Cuban, rock, gospel, house music, salsa, Soukous, steel pan, hip-hop, Nigerian, the list goes on and on …”
The beat goes on, too, as Wallace gets ready to host Oakland’s third annual World Percussion Festival on Sept. 27. Along with a cadre of drummers and dancers, he’s got five-time Grammy-nominated percussionist John Santos headlining the event. Santos has worked with the greats — from Dizzy Gillespie to Carlos Santana.
There’s something about drums that stirs the soul. “Rhythm is repetition, and repetition can create a sense of meditation, harmony and peace,” says Wallace, adding the drum’s vibration is soothing and reconnects us with our natural rhythms of heartbeat and breath.
The free event runs from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 27 at Oakland’s East Bay Church, 4130 Telegraph Ave., and drum fans can even sign up for individual $20 workshops or get a full day of classes for $50. Check it out at
Around town: We all want to leave a legacy. For those of us who can’t leave a library or performing arts center, there’s at least a way, now, to leave a brick. Buy a brick and your name is immortalized on the new pedestrian bulb-outs, when they’re installed, along Montclair’s Antioch Court.

Last Sunday’s street fair was a kickoff, of sorts, to get public support for the long-overdue face-lift. The streetscape, which has been approved and partly funded by the city, includes retractable barriers that would make it easier to close Antioch Court for special events. It would also replace the jagged sidewalks and uneven grade of the street as well as ban left turns. To buy a brick and find out more, see

Musical note: If you’re looking to fiddle around next week, the homegrown Shepherd Canyon Band plays at Monaghans from 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 25. They got their name because they started playing together at Bernie Bishop’s home in the hills, then started getting some gigs. Check out their sound at

Book it: Kudos to author Tim Jollymore. The former Skyline High teacher has just finished a new mystery novel, which he’ll present at Nelly’s Java from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday. His agent tells me that Jollymore has been busy in retirement. He’s written a play, short stories and two novels. True to his Minnesota roots, “Listener in the Snow” takes place in a Minnesota blizzard. Music to my ears!


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