As a child I never ever considered drumming to be a part of my life. We lived in a remote area of Labradror on the south coast, Eagle River, Sandwich Bay. Guitar muisc was about the only thing we had. There was one accordian, I think.
But we had a guest stay with us a few years back now. She just looked at me and she said, “You’re a drum maker.” I said, “I am? You’re not serious? Drummaker? Okay?” That’s when she proceeded to tell me that she was going to instruct me how to make a drum.
She was a Mi’kmaq woman from Nova Scotia. I’m up to 120 now after making. It feels good, it’s a good hobby, a good pastime. I’m retired. It brings you in a few dollars. It all helps. I’m happy doing it, I must say.
I played guitar a bit back in a day, played in a band in high school and a little bit beyond. Not commerically very much. Labrador people are musical anyway. You play the guitar, the accordian or the piano, and the fiddle. All my older generation relatives were into that kinda stuff so I ended up playing guitar for music-wise. Other than that, it was listening to records.
There was always someone drumming when we were in Central Newfoundland so no trouble to get involved in it. And of course, once I started making drums I had whole new spectrum of customers, and it was great because it were custom-made drums for them.
I am a perfectionist. So when I’m doing something, I want it to be the best it can be.
[What’s it like to complete a drum?]
A sense of pride I guess that’d be the biggest one. I didn’t know I was going to be doing it for one thing until latter years, and then when I got into it, I gotta make sure that every one is good or better than the last one. I can only get so far to perfection. I’ve almost reached a couple so far.
Each hide has a thickness and a thin part. Some are heavier duty and some are lighter duty and they all make different sounds. I don’t think two are ever identical. That’s an interesting part for me, too. Once it’s stretched and dried, to hit it the first time, that’s good.
People enjoy it, so I do enjoy doing stuff for people. When I get one that people say, “Oh, that sounds good.” To me, I did a good job, so I’m happy. And once you keep yourself happy, way to go.
It’s an emotional thing for a lot of poeple. For me, it’s a hobby. I didn’t know I had any talent that way until I was told by a Mi’kmaq woman from Nova Scotia, Holly Muse. She told me, “Yeah, you’re a drummaker.” So, very good. I listened to her.