Drumstrong Rhythm & Arts Festival Returns to Weddington

Just outside of Charlotte, a Weddington farm stretches across 80 acres of pastures, meadows, and trails. It's the kind of place you’d find both two-legged and four-legged inhabitants. And in May, the upper half of that rustic backdrop is transformed into Drumstrong Rhythm & Arts Festival, a live music event in its seventh year. 

Organizer Cameron G. Lee, who joined the festival for this year’s installment, remembers the first time he saw Misty Meadows Farm.

“One of the things that sold me was just how beautiful the land was,” Lee says, thumbing through smartphone images of the farm, including festival mascot Pony Danza. “The first day I went out, it was actually raining. But any person who has gone to a festival would go to this property and say, ‘Wow, I can see this happening.’ It’s just gorgeous.”

The first Drumstrong event, a 25-hour drumming session, took place in 2007. It’s evolved into a worldwide effort, with attendees obtaining sponsors for each hour spent banging on a drum, benefiting a charity of his or her choice. Seventy cities in 25 countries have hosted DrumStrong events, and drum circles on Misty Meadows Farm are now joined by food vendors, a beer garden, art displays, outside games, and a stacked line-up of musical acts from Charlotte and beyond.

“It’s a full stage with a lot of excitement,” founder Scott Swimmer says. “It’s going to get people out and get them entertained, but hopefully also excited about attaching to a charity and being supportive of what we’re doing.”

Swimmer’s parents purchased the farm in the 1960s. Like many, multiple members of his family have been afflicted with and affected by cancer. Scott started the nonprofit DrumsForCures in 2006 to not only produce the yearly festival, but to take the idea of sponsored drumming to hospitals, schools, and camps to aid cancer research, education, and support.

For the main event of the year, including a day-long drum session shared across the world, it’s an opportunity for cities to target several of their own local charities in a single weekend. “It’s a unique concept in the cancer support world,” Swimmer says. “Some aren’t able to run or do other athletic activities. But instead of being on the sideline, you’re out there banging on something.”

Lee, who has organized festivals like 2013’s Brewzfest and founded CLTure, brought fresh eyes to the effort last fall. He helped re-think the festival’s layout, making the most of the site’s 40 acres. Lee sees a potential to expand the reach of DrumStrong in a city like Charlotte. “We want to make it very North Carolina-friendly. The concept of a music festival isn’t as big here as it is in other states.”

As they prepare for opening day, including “big-ass tents” in case of rain, Swimmer maintains despite changes and updates, the "positive vibe" of the festival will be maintained.

“It’s a celebration that extends into the wee hours of the morning,” Swimmer says. “The music onstage may stop at midnight, but there’s activity all night. Part of it is sure, it’s a festival. It’s a beautiful place. The line-up is all-inclusive. But it’s a cause. People should just come out and play.”

Check out the festival's First Giving website here, and head over to the official DrumStrong page for more info. 

If you missed our post on the festival schedule, check out a detailed version below. 

Friday (North Carolina Music Celebration, May 16)
11 a.m.:
Gates open
1 p.m.: Replicas
1:45 p.m.: Modern Primatives
2:35 p.m.: Pullman Strike
3:25 p.m.: Cairo Fire
4:15 p.m.: The Business People
5:15 p.m.: Grown Up Avenger Stuff
6:15 p.m.: Super Ape
7:20 p.m.: Junior Astronomers
8:25 p.m.: HRVRD
9:30 p.m.: Miami Dice
10:20 p.m.: Dirty Drummer
11:15 p.m.: Marley Carroll
(DJ A-Huf performs between the day’s sets)

Saturday (Main Event, May 17)
10:50 a.m.:
Sinners & Saints
11:35 a.m.: Bombadil
12:35 p.m.: The Mantras
1:25 p.m.: Lost in the Trees
2:15 p.m.: The Love Language
3:20 p.m.: Futurebirds
4:25 p.m.: American Aquarium
5:30 p.m.: Chatham County Line
6:40 p.m.: Kopecky Family Band
7:50 p.m.: The Felice Brothers
9:05 p.m.: Railroad Earth
10:50 p.m.: Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band
12:10 a.m.: Ancient Cities (acoustic set)
(DJ Joel Khouri performs between the day’s sets)

Sunday (Family Folk and Fun Day, May 18)
11 a.m.:
School of Rock
12 p.m.: Of Good Nature
1 p.m.: Caroline Spence
2 p.m.: Drum Circle Ceremony
3:05 p.m.: Time Sawyer
3:55 p.m.: Elonzo
4:50 p.m.: Joe Pug Trio
5:50 p.m.: New Familiars
6:55 p.m.: Overmountain Men
7:55 p.m.: Dom Flemons
(That Guy Smitty performs between the day’s sets)

Categories: Arts + Culture, Revue