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Banging Drums at Biddle's Escape

Biddle’s Escape coffee shop in Regent Square opens its back porch up to a drum circle on Thursdays at 5 p.m.

If eclectic art, a brightly colored exterior and bead offerings aren't creative enough, and his neighbor Fateh Entabi decided to invite a drum circle to the coffee shop.

“It’s just about neighbors hanging out,” said Davis who pointed out that most of the crowd bobbing their heads to the beat lived close to the cafe.

The group is informal and it seems that as long as there are drummers on Thursdays, there will be a drum circle that starts at about 5 p.m., although Davis adds the fun ends promptly at 8 p.m. “to respect the neighbors.” 

There is no sheet music. The group loosely follows the beat set by the bass drummer and each individual creates their own part of the rhythm. Although each person plays something all their own, the rhythms come together to create one sound that keeps changing and growing from fast to slow. 

The idea of a drum circle entwined Entabi’s love of music and Davis’ mission for Biddle’s Escape to be “all about the community.”

Having only sent out a Facebook announcement and put up a sign outside the cafe, they were surprised by the crowd that gathered on the first night.

“People just showed up. It was amazing!” said Entabi.

For the past five Thursday nights, Biddle’s Escape has been home to the pulsating heartbeat of an estimated 20 drummers. The group is open to anyone and there are extra instruments to share. There are no tryouts or prior training necessary. The only thing needed is an open mind and a willingness to play.  

“It gives me so much joy and it gives others so much joy. In this day and age, we need to have more fun,” said drummer Janelle Burdell.

Attendee Erik Rosen considered drumming to be a hobby and brought three ethnic drums from his shop in Shadyside to share with the circle.

“It’s weird. I never had drumming as a passion, but I always find myself drumming on a desk,” said Rosen.

There were bass drums, tambourines, shakers and African djembes. There were also some makeshift instruments such as a turned over bucket or a water bottle played with a stick.

At one point Entabi broke out his “didgeridoo”, a long brightly decorated Australian horn, which he bought online and taught himself from Youtube videos.

While the instruments are diverse, the people that attended the event were just as different. There was a mix of young and old alike. Even a few small children showed up to shake a tambourine and slap a djembe.

“Everyone has a beat inside of them,” said Mick Karolac, one participant who brought a large bag of percussion instruments to share with the group.

Karolac is involved in one of the only other drum circles in Pittsburgh, the Three Rivers Thunder.

“You have to act and react at the same time. It’s a rhythmic conversation,” said Karolac.

Entabi is happy about the success of the group even if his shifting schedule as a doctor won’t allow him to come every Thursday night anymore.

“The drum circle goes on with or without me,” he joked.

Gary Fischman June 19, 2012 at 01:31 AM
I've been at one of these and hope to come regularly, starting with the next one this week. Drum circles are a lot of fun and a great way to connect.
Akasha Brandt June 19, 2012 at 05:43 PM
It was definitely fun. I didn't leave until I banged on some drums! The improvised beats are really interesting too. It's cool how they change.

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