Listening Local: Captivating Rhythms

Charles Parker WaltonPHOTO COURTESY Andrew Cavanaugh - Charles Parker Walton

“Yup, that feels pretty good,” shouts the drummer. He stands up behind the kit and starts dancing, dreadlocks swaying from side to side as he keeps the beat, wailing on the tom and snare drums. Some drummers can’t be kept in the background.

If you have been going out to see live music over the last few years on Cape Cod, chances are you have seen Charles Parker Walton, play. As well as being the drummer for Crooked Coast, he plays with the Old Silver band, the Dune Billy All-Stars, and fills in with numerous other local bands, rolling from funk throw downs to weddings gigs, without skipping a beat. 

Charles has been captivated by rhythm; since he was a toddler in his high chair, beat boxing to his older sister’s hip-hop records. When he was 10, he got his first drum kit and began playing alongside his mother, a pianist, in church. 

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Charles has a phrase he often uses when he talks about his style of drumming, “I smash fruit,” he says, with a big grin. The term is homage to 1980s, comedy superstar Gallagher, who would bring melons, cantaloupes and such, on stage, then smash them with an oversized hammer. Charles shares Gallagher’s flair for the dramatic.

Now, you can learn to play like Charles. Every Saturday from 1 to 5 PM. Charles will be teaching a workshop called Thump: creative, musical exploration, through drums and percussion. Ages 8 and older, and all skill levels are welcome at Thump, which takes place at M.V. Drums, 66c Willow Avenue in Hyannis, MA.

Charles is teaching Thump, alongside Martin Vazquez; the two drummers have a long history.  Charles started taking drum lesson from Martin at 13 years old. When he was a freshman in high school, Charles joined Spirit of America, a marching, drum line that Martin, was the percussion director of.  Although at first intimidated by the intense regimen, Charles came to love being a part of the band. They competed all over the country, and at a drum line competition in Calgary, Canada, placed first in the US and second in the world.

“Marching in Martin’s drum line,” Charles says, “I learned about hard work, commitment and traveling with a musical ensemble. Aside from just getting my chops down, it was a great life experience.”

After high school, Charles went on to play with numerous rock and reggae bands, traveling all over the Northeast and the Caribbean. While still playing as a professional musician, Charles’s passion for learning and sharing his knowledge makes Thump, a perfect project; working alongside his mentor is an added bonus.“It’s an honor, because I look up to him.  There is a respect there, we’re brothers. I observe him teaching and hone my teaching skills as well.”

When I asked Charles where he sees the future of Thump, he said, “That is what is so exciting, we are starting from ground zero.  We are sharing the seeds of music and rhythm, eventually we may create a performing group out of it.”

For all those interested in learning about rhythm and percussion, check out Thump, every Saturday from 1 to 5 PM at M.V. Drums in Hyannis. Have some fun, learn the fundamentals and someday you may be smashing fruit like Charles.

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