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NH Drum Festival

Article by Sean Mitchell // May 12 2013
NH Drum Festival

In less than 7 days, 32 drummers will take the stage in Merrimack, New Hampshire for one incredible day of drum solos. The mastermind behind this incredible event is Tom Mungovan. The Black Page caught up with Tom as he prepares to invade Merrimack with a substantial amount of groove.

Tom, how long has the New Hampshire Drum Festival been around and how did it all get started?

NH Drum Festival was founded in 2009, but this is our second year doing our Drum Fun event. I am a drummer myself, as I have been playing for 30 years now. I started the organization because there was simply a need to do so. New Hampshire did not have a fun event dedicated to drummers until I created one. I also just personally wanted to see it happen to be a part of it in some way. I assembled a team to be on my board of directors and off we went. 

Tell me a bit about what goes into creating an event like this. It must be a lot of work!

It is a lot of work, but for me personally I enjoy every bit of it, as there is nothing about it that has been a drag or something I haven't really wanted to do. I used to run my own graphics company for 20 years, so the business aspect of it is actually quite easy and enjoyable. Scouting locations, finding quality sponsors, dealing with hundreds of different people on numerous levels is exciting to me. Our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/nhdrumfestival) has been a tremendously positive social outlet for us. If you reading this have not liked our page, please do so. Thanks! 

When it came time to initiate the first Drum Fun last year, I simply posted the need for drummers for a drum competition and within one week all the slots were filled with drummers dying to do a drum solo. Word of mouth spread quickly, which got the ears of newspapers who did stories on us and then a TV show called NH Chronicle ran a story on us, which generated a ton more positive press and publicity. By creating this event, I unknowingly tapped into a community of drummers with a dire need to be heard and connect with one another. This year we have WGIR 101, a local radio station providing a fair amount of on-air promotion, as one of their DJs is a drummer performing a solo. 

What can festival goers expect? Give us a run down on the line-up and events.

This year's event will be held May 18th at Autofair Volkswagen and Nashua Harley-Davidson in Merrimack, NH. It will be outside on two stages starting at noon and ending at 8 p.m. The event will see 32 drummers performing a five-minute drum solo in genres such as rock, African, jazz, fusion, death metal, Latin and contemporary Christian music. The age range is from 8 to 54 years old, and this year we will see our first female drummer, which ironically has been the biggest challenge to date—the elusive female drummer appears to be a rare breed in these parts (laughs). 

The drummers will be judged by four industry professionals who will award the top three placers cash and drum-related merchandise. There will also be a huge drum raffle for attendees and tons of freebies to hand out. I would be very surprised to see someone not getting something drum related to take home. 

Where do you see this festival headed in the years to come? Any big goals for the event?

I see Drum Fun continuing to grow rapidly for a few years, then maintaining a level that satisfies everybody with growth at a slower but steady pace. I want to reach every major drum sponsor and have them all aboard; I have a lot but it’s a personal goal to be connected with all of them. I am optimistic but realistic about that, as I fully understand that to be a lofty goal. 

I have some ideas on slight variations to a drum competition, like getting a complete set donated by a company, having the drummers perform a solo on that kit, then raffling off that kit at the end of the night. As it is now, the drummers all bring their own kits to do a solo, which is awesome but does require fore-thinking in finding the right space to accommodate all those kits. I would very much like my drum events to be considered "the drum events to go to." I am trying to put on the most professional and fun event possible, with as much positive attention on the drummers as possible. 

How can someone get involved if they want to volunteer at the festival?

I would love for people to get involved with Drum Fun or any other event that I have going on. If they are willing and capable, they can send me an e-mail at: info@nhdrumfestival.com and we can go from there. Luckily for drummers of Drum Fun, there is no audition. It is simply a means of getting to me first. It is open to men and women, any genre and any age. My events are free, but the drummers have to pay a registration fee, which typically just gets collected and given to the first-place winner. If the drummers want to be included, they have to let me know, and I'll get them in the system. Last year we had 16 slots open and a waiting list of 47 drummers. This year, we have 32 drummers due to the overwhelming positive support and interest, but it filled up within a week and I still have a waiting list of 26 people hoping someone will drop out. 

What advice can you offer to potential performers at the festival?

My only advice to drummers performing at a Drum Fun event is to have fun, practice and keep it under five minutes. 

What else do you have in the works?

Other works I have going on, while keeping involved and crafting a solid drum community, is a TV series I started called Drum Trio Experiments in which I get three drummers who have never played together before, place them in an airport hangar with million-dollar jets, film it, photograph it and let them find the rhythmic connection between them. It's quite awesome to watch on the TV, but even better to watch in person. 

We film for about three hours then I edit it down to a 30-minute show. The show gets aired throughout NH on local cable access stations. We just filmed our second episode and so far the response has been great from the public—and there are more drummers willing to do it then I have time to film them. 

I also am planning to branch slightly away from drums by starting a Bass Soloing competition called Bass Solo Fun. I have a completely different team for that one and I'll be more open to locations, as it is considerable easier to move a bass than a drum set. I love the sound of a good bass solo, and if a drum event in New England was rare, a bass solo competition is non-existent. I plan to change that. More information about that will be coming soon, but if any bass players are really curious, they should like my Facebook page www.facebook.com/basssolofun for more information, as that will be the only place I give out information.




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About the Author
Sean Mitchell

Sean Mitchell has been an active participant in the drumming industry for over 20 years. He has studied under Crash Test Dummies drummer Mitch Dorge and Drumming's Global Ambassador Dom Famularo. Sean is also a songwriter and regularly performs with his wife (and singer) Jill Mitchell. Sean proudly endorses Aquarian Drumheads.



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