Northeast Times

The heart of the circle

Ima­gine a hun­dred drum­mers drum­ming.

Head down to the plaza of the Kim­mel Cen­ter at noon on Sat­urday, June 18, and ima­gin­a­tion won’t be ne­ces­sary. It’s go­ing to be loud, and there’s no way the volume can be turned down, be­cause it will be live.

To kick off its an­nu­al Cit­ibank Sum­mer Sol­stice Cel­eb­ra­tion, the Kim­mel Cen­ter has sched­uled a “drum circle” in its plaza, at Broad and Spruce streets. Have a drum? Bring it and take part.

If ex­per­i­ence is a guide, about 100 people will show up ready to pound out a beat, said Sean Hen­nessy, dir­ect­or of Philly-based per­cus­sion en­semble Leanna Song.

Hen­nessy, who grew up on Carter­et Drive in the Brookhaven sec­tion of the Far North­east, will dir­ect the per­cus­sion en masse. 

He’s done it a few times, but the drum circle used to con­clude the more than half-day-long sum­mer sol­stice cel­eb­ra­tion at sun­rise. This is the first time the drum circle will kick off the live mu­sic and en­ter­tain­ment event, which con­cludes at 2 a.m. on Sunday, June 19.

The cel­eb­ra­tion the week­end be­fore the first day of sum­mer show­cases Philly-based tal­ent in every part of the Kim­mel Cen­ter for $10 ($5 for chil­dren age 12 and young­er).

So how will Hen­nessy or­gan­ize 100 or so per­cus­sion­ists who have nev­er played to­geth­er?

Well, the drum­mers won’t be the people who just show up. The 12-piece Leanna Song will be there with Ghanai­an ewe and Cuban bata drums as well as oth­er in­stru­ments. The group per­forms ad­ap­ted tra­di­tion­al rhythms from around the world as well as ori­gin­al ma­ter­i­al.

Hen­nessy, who now lives in North­ern Liber­ties, has not only pre­vi­ously dir­ec­ted the drum circle, he also teaches per­cus­sion throughout the city. He’s ready.

“I’ll use a bull­horn or a mi­cro­phone” to get dir­ec­tions across to par­ti­cipants, he said.

It won’t take but five minutes or so to break drum­mers in­to groups and get them play­ing.

“There are cer­tain tricks to keep it go­ing smoothly,” he said in a phone in­ter­view. And not every­body brings drums, he said. “Some people bring in­stru­ments like flutes or sax­o­phones,” he said.

Drum­mers will then parade onto the stage for a per­form­ance, he said.

After the B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Drum) event, at­tendees will be able to choose from a clas­sic­al, blues, R&B, jazz, hip-hop, dance, Lat­in, world mu­sic rhythms and DJs spin­ning mu­sic. There will be 40 acts in 14 hours.

Plus, the Cen­ter for Emer­ging Visu­al Artists will present a gal­lery of visu­al art avail­able for pur­chase on Tiers 1 and 2.

In the even­ing, there will be a slot on the Com­mon­wealth Plaza stage for the You­Tube Sum­mer Sol­stice Con­test Win­ner to per­form. This win­ner, who will be an­nounced June 10, will be picked on Face­book by Kim­mel Cen­ter fans.

There will be some fam­ily-friendly activ­it­ies in­clud­ing trav­el­ing ex­hib­its from the Please Touch Mu­seum and the Phil­adelphia Zoo. The Plants and Ernie & Neal com­bine storytelling with per­form­ances for con­certs that kids and their par­ents will en­joy. Also, Threeds Oboe Trio, Kim­mel Cen­ter Youth Jazz En­semble and Ren­nie Har­ris RHAW, a hip-hop per­form­ance, will en­ter­tain audi­ences of all ages.

The even­ing heats up with SA VA Boutique Fash­ion Show present­ing eco-con­scious sum­mer line; a First Per­son Arts Story Slam; gui­tar vir­tu­oso and Deutsche Gram­mo­phon re­cord­ing artist Mi­lo? Karadagli&ae­lig;; sing­er-song­writer Phil Roy per­forms with cel­eb­rated Philly chef Marc Vetri; Brazili­an band Mi­nas Troupe brings a 10-piece car­ni­val to the Com­mon­wealth Plaza, and sing­er-song­writer Nicole Reyn­olds will per­form.

Late at night, Bob & Bar­bara’s Drag Show takes cen­ter stage in the Plaza, fol­lowed by DJ Ul­tra Vi­ol­et and Eth­el Cee, and Reef The Lost Cauze fea­tur­ing DJ Ca­liph-Now and DJ Dav­id Blakk. Perel­man Theat­er trans­forms in­to a late-night dance party with Ir­ish fa­vor­ites Black­thorn and ArcheDream for Hu­man­kind; In­nov­a­tion Stu­dio in­cludes Urb­an Celebrity Magazine’s Show­case of young Philly tal­ent fea­tur­ing Young Sav­age, Chill Moody and R6 Cypher, and Afro­Taino Pro­duc­tions presents MAM­BO3000, an ex­per­i­ment­al dance party with DJ Rah­saan and spe­cial guests in­clud­ing El Malito, Rap Soup and more.

Henna tat­too artists, chair mas­sages, tar­ot card read­ers, face-paint­ers and more will be sta­tioned in Com­mon­wealth Plaza at vari­ous times throughout the cel­eb­ra­tion. Wolfgang Puck Ca­ter­ing will provide food and drink op­tions throughout the day and night at Peco Caf&ea­cute; and The Lounge by Wolfgang Puck. ••

For a com­plete, up-to-date list of per­formers, vis­it www.kim­mel­cen­ter.org/sol­stice

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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