This can be a somewhat sensitive subject for people who love to drum. The truth is, sensitive, experienced drummers can add a lot to the jam but not-so-sensitive drummers, or drummers on the wrong kind of drum can kill it. In an acoustic setting, a cajon or djembe can out-power any stringed instrument. A washboard, a tambourin or even a shaker egg will cut through above everything else. A good percussionist understands this and knows when to lay back and when to punch it.
Take That Shaker Egg Seriously
A lot of people consider the shaker egg as their instrument and that is cool. I totally support people participating anyway they can, but here’s the deal. That shaker egg is, indeed, a real instrument and if you are going to join in, you have to know how to support the music with it. If you are not paying attention, really listing and being sensitive to what’s happening, you will kill the groove and as I wrote in the All About The Groove blog, when the groove dies, the song dies so don’t fool around, really play that shaker egg.
A Point Of Etiquette
Be aware. In a Bluegrass circle, drums are discouraged. If you see a banjo and fiddle and the songs people are calling are traditional tunes, ask before you jump in. If you are at a hardcore old-time or bluegrass festival, I wouldn’t even try. Traditional players can be very finicky about sticking to old school convention.
This Seems Really Crazy…
There is, apparently, this relatively new phenomenon of people bringing rhythm instruments to festivals and actually playing along with bands on stage. I heard this from my friend Warren who plays percussion with The California Honey Drops. He was astonished to look out from the stage and see, and hear, people banging away on their drums with the band during the show! There is s time and place for playing percussion. That is definitely not it!