Saturday, January 31, 2009

Revelation #9

Photo by John Buynak

John took this shot on the tour bus in 02 as we whizzed through the midwest, he ended up using it as the cover image on my Revelation #9 CD...

Listen to tracks from Revelation #9 on CD Baby

Friday, January 30, 2009

My Students Opening for the Clarks in Italia..

One of my favorite things to do to my students is to make them perform in public after only playing for a short time...The students you see here were in my hand drumming class during a semester in Parma, Italy in May 08.
After 5 days of working with them for 2.5 hrs per day, I told them we would be performing live doing an opening slot for the band The Clarks in front of an Italian audience...

The students of course weren't so sure they could pull it off...I knew they would be fine...they did spectacular. the shades were there idea...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

2005 Rhythm Renewal Faculty Jam

2005 was the first year of bringing faculty other than myself to the Summer Rhythm Renewal. We laid a lot of groundwork that year for what this experience would eventually become. One of our favorite events is the "Faculty Jam". This is a photo of one such jam.

Pictured here from left to right; Mike Deaton on djembe, myself on kit, Jim Gagnon with the didgeridoo and Daveed Korup playing the frame drum.

My Workshops Look Like This...

This is a shot of a workshop I did at a place out in Eastern, PA called Serenity Yoga...really sweet people, lots of good drumming that day. I love the energy of yoga studios...very conducive to music making.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Horde 96

The Horde Tour was a great time...
During that tour it rarely, if ever, rained during our set.

However, it almost always rained on poor Lenny Kravitz. Poor guy would get shocked over and over from dampness and lightning.

Lenny and his band were phenomenal- especially Cindy Blackman the drummer. Incredibly nice people too..

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

1990 Earth Day

This one of our very first shows at Point State Park in Pittsburgh. We were originally a four piece band and I had short hair. I think my late grandmother Olga took this shot. She was our biggest fan. I remember her dancing at one of our shows with several shirtless fratboys...

Olga was a woman who knew how to live.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I am often reminded of how thankful I am for drumming...

In my life, drumming has allowed me to live out childhood dreams and also pass along this freedom of expression to countless numbers of people. It's allowed me to learn more about myself, and it's allowed me to evolve as a person.

Maybe some time ago, you came to one of my workshops, or attended a community drum circle. You were provided with a space in which - if only for a few hours, you could safely make noise, drum, yell, dance, and forget about life's problems.

You had a fantastic time, and vowed to make drumming a permanent part of your life. But life goes on as it does, and we get busy and we forget about the good stuff. You were never were able to find the time to get back to that place. That place that made you feel so fulfilled, so grounded and so free.

Drumming is not only satisfying as a social or community event, but also as a healing experience that feeds your spirit. It drops you into a space of presence, of being in the moment, of moving towards openness, and it reminds you that it's ok to push things aside and create space for you yourself to let go and enjoy life.

Each one of the reasons listed above is exactly why I have centered my own life around drumming- and through that, I continue to dedicate my life to help people to move themselves into a more positive and centered place through the sound and vibration of the drum.

Now is the time to do something for yourself.
Now is the time to get out and drum!

Drum with me! Click here for a schedule of my upcoming workshops

Cumulative Effects

Photo courtesy of Rae Ann Drabick

Let's do the math.

If you spend 5 minutes per day playing your drum, that adds up to 35 minutes per week, 2.3 hrs per month, 27.6 hours per year.

What if you spent 10 minutes a day? That's 70 minutes per week, 4.6 hrs per month, 56 hrs per year...

The ability to foresee the cumulative effects of your actions is an important skill to learn both in music and in life. Begin to look at the efficiency of your daily routine and how much time you spend on things that are important to you. Pay attention to those things you could do without, and replace them with actions that will help you to progress.

Jim Donovan

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Groove

The groove is what I live for.

Back in 1990, I specifically remember a day when I was in Rusted Root's rehearsal space in the Strip District near downtown Pittsburgh. It was really hot at that time, and I was practicing on the drum set by myself. There was no air conditioning, and I couldn't open the windows - but that was all fine by me. I decided to shut the lights off and I started playing an African groove on my tom-toms, (a 6/8 rhythm) and I thought to myself, "I wonder what would happen if I just kept playing this groove for a very long time?" So that's just what I did. I started playing and the more I played the same groove, the more I let my body relax. I deliberately decide to stay on the same groove over and over, and I did no fills, no variations, just the same thing over and over again. Repetition, repetition, repetition.

Being in that space for what seemed to be about 10 minutes was bliss. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I was no longer thinking, I was no longer trying to be anything. I wasn't trying to become a better drummer, I was just in the groove. And when I finally stopped, I thought I had been only playing for about ten or fifteen minutes, but as it turned out, over two whole hours had passed since I had started playing the rhythm. I wasn't tired or fatigued in any way, but instead I found that I was energized and I knew that night on my ride home, I would never be the same.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Rhythm Renewal

What is Rhythm Renewal?

It is a gathering of diverse people that love music in all its forms, but who have found the joy that comes from hand drumming and the benefits it brings to the body and the soul.
-Janet Keefer

a well-planned, centering, really fun event where it is easy to relax, and make new friends -- all while drumming!
-Cindy Carroll

Rejuvenation of the mind and spirit! Rhythm Renewal allows us an opportunity to participate in intriguing workshops facilitated by experienced and fabulous teachers and/or mentors; the experience encourages us to take time to explore our inner child and today's self; it is an opportunity to meet and laugh with beautiful people; but most importantly the whole experience leaves us with an enlightened and awakening sense of soul; and reflection of what and who is truly important in our lives!
-Corinna Bealer

Rhythm Renewal is a wonderful rejuvenating 4 day workshop where you are immersed in rhythms, song and dance. It gives voice to the soul of everyone in the group and the group as a whole. It teaches us all the concepts of focus, cooperation, and harmony. It is filled with fun, joy and love... It is just an indescribably amazing and awe inspiring experience ......surreal and other worldly and one that we carry back into our regular lives. The spirit there is totally uplifting and it's an oasis in time to look forward to throughout the year.
-Mary Cogley

Rhythm Renewal is all about renewing the rhythm of self. I had no idea this would be so introspective; it was great.
-Gloria Chlopik

The Rhythm Renewal is an explosion of energy, a spiritual supernova. The first year I went, I thought it was about drumming, but it's really not. Drumming is just Jim's key to the door which opens up the self.
- Andy Patton

a contained place of intention
- PJ Roduta

Rhythm Renewal is putting everything and everyone on hold from where you were and becoming alive and free to be who you are. Experiencing the rhythm of sound, rhythm of oneness, and the renewal of a spiritual connection.
- Victoria Durst

A Rhythmic Experience for your heart, mind, body and soul...
- Nino Vella

An enlightening, vibrating, opening on a mountain that allows all to come together in the love of music, in respect of all musicians and in the desire to connect with yourself and that drum!
- Patrice

A chance to leave everything else in your world behind and focus on nothing but "drumming" or whatever your musical ability may be. To allow yourself through those 4 days to refine and bring that internal rhythm of yours to the surface and just let it be.
- Mary Hinkson

A fulfilling musical/percussion learning experience/getaway in the mountains filled with lots of great music, drumming to your heart's content, seeing old friends, meeting new friends, good food ... a time you wish would never end.
- Tom Freeman & Linda Sachs

This is a fantastic "chill-out" time from my day to day work routine. It proved to be a spiritual renewal, setting in motion the possibility of re-energizing my entire being in some holistic way.
- Carole Freeman

It's designed to revitalize and re-energize the human spirit through rhythmic hand-drumming in a group of like-minded people, who work together so well that we become one sound.
- Dina Creighton

Rhythm Renewal is a gathering of spirits who find drumming a wonderful part of life...A chance for our inner child to come out and play by dance, by closing your eyes and learning that new rhythm, the one you couldn't quite get the day before or maybe the year before. We come together to learn rhythms, to dance, to laugh, to DRUM!
- Ramona

We call it "drum camp." It's a time to be away from home for some concentrated drumming and also to be introduced to new instruments and thoughts.
- Doug Patterson

It is four days focused on finding and getting in touch with your true self; the drumming is an added bonus. The Rhythm Renewal is a Family where everyone is welcome and encouraged to express themselves and their feelings... I know that it is a place that will accept me, no matter what condition I am in and it is a place where I feel loved and accepted, exactly how I am. I guess simply put, the Rhythm Renewal is the way the world should be, full of love and acceptance.
- Amy Cauldwell

It is a place of self expression without judgment. It provides motivation and encouragement to set you on your rightful path. The drumming IS an added bonus, because there is so much more to take away from the experience. Each year I attend the event, my life becomes richer.
- Stephanie Smith

Last Root Show

Photo by Keith Sparbanie
Just found this photo of my last Pittsburgh show with the son had just been born the day before. A very charged night.
No cut-offs...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Maestro in Parma

Photo by Eileen Hertweck I think..

I along with Rob James from the Clarks and Chuck Olson are innocently jamming at Le Bistro, a wonderful restaurant and home away from home in the center of Parma, Italy.

All of a sudden I have this wild looking, intoxicated Italian man telling me to stop drumming. He actually goes so far as to take my hands off of the djembe!

I find out later that is is the ex-conductor of the symphony in Parma....

I'm sure it won't be the last time someone tells me to play more quietly..

My Hat is Number One

Just so you know, my black hat is number one.
Please don't forget it.

Oh yea..these are a bunch of my Italian friends from Parma...
They are number one too.

Extreme Mega Rock

I'm not sure who took this shot..maybe Todd Moon or Rhonda Corson...
This is a fun shot of a night I played with Extreme Mega Rock sensations, Berkobin & Corson back in December 08.

They have a great new CD coming soon, I'll let you know when it hits...

Potato Soup and Bacon Bits


Uncle Donny on the Bus

This is a photo of John Buynak (on the right) and our first bus driver Uncle Donny who taught us the ways of the road. Our first bus happened to be BB King's old Bus. I took that as a good omen...

Among the many good Uncle Donny stories, one that sticks out is when he told me (imagine a very gruff southern drawl) "Jim, there's a rule in the south that says 'You can say anything you want about anyone you want to, as long as you follow the insult with Bless their heart."

I still use that rule to this day...

Cut-offs at Cracker Barrel

A rare shot of the band in the morning. I think John Buynak took this one...
He and Jenn always took such great photos!

This is from our first tour to Colorado. We were relaxing after a good ol' American breakfast at Cracker Barrel. 

Improper South Dakota Fashion

Here I am with my old buddies from Rusted Root. We were shooting the video for Send Me on My Way in South Dakota in the Badlands....

I, of course, decided that my cutoff shorts would be the best clothing choice for the shoot. (Along with my purple hat and red shirt...)

It was about 32 degrees.
Ah youth...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day of Drumming in Johnstown, PA

Well, I'm happy to finally be getting back to Johnstown and doing some more drumming. Johnstown is not far from where I grew up (Rockwood, PA). I remember playing in the Johnstown symphony years ago...seems like several lifetimes have passed since then.

Anyhow, here is the information about the day if you'd like to make it.

The day will begin at 1PM with my new drumming workshop called Drumming, Ecstasy & Evolution where participants will learn hand drumming techniques to play exciting rhythms and drumming songs from Africa, the Americas, and the Caribbean. I will also teach participants how to deeply connect with their drumming using a simple, yet powerful four step process. I will provide a large selection of authentic West African drums called djembes for participants to use during the workshop.
The event is open to anyone over the age of 17 regardless of prior drumming experience.

In the evening I will bring my percussive based band Drum the Ecstatic International to the ART WORKS starting at 7pm for an all ages show.

Anyone wishing to participate in the workshop or to get tickets for the show are asked register by calling the BOTTLE WORKS 814-536-5399. Space is very limited, advance registration required.

More Details Here...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Lady (Fela Kuti) by Drum the Ecstatic

Watch Lady : Jim Donovan's Drum the Ecstatic International in Music Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at

Here's a clip of group Drum the Ecstatic playing a Fela Kuti song called "Lady".
The clip features Elie Kihonia (Democratic Republic of Congo), Brandon King, PJ Roduta, Harry Pepper, Bryan Fazio, Bill Burke and Mike Deaton as well as myself.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Paris and Blue Bear

Paris is truly an amazing city, though i only had a day there. To make it a little more interesting, I took a little friend named Blue Bear as my traveling buddy. You can check out all of his European adventures on his blog:
The Great Adventures of Blue Bear.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Thought on Love

The direct path to a consciousness revolution is holding the vibration of love. Holding the vibration of love. Hold it within you at every moment. Make the choice now to be that - make the choice now to clear out the things in your life that do not serve hoding the vibration of love. Anything that does not hold the vibration of love is USELESS.

Let it go, leave it. You are enough.
Peace, Jim

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Power of Presence

Presence means being completely and fully immersed in the moment that you are in. It is full uninterrupted concentration and allowing.
Presence means being undistracted by unrelated thoughts.

You may have heard the term *being in the zone* used by athletes which alludes to presence. Presence is effortless, full and perfect.

Being present is what ultimately affects the *quality* of your interactions and experiences. When we multi-task - we do get things done, and we can check stuff off the list.... In contrast, when you're present, when you are fully immersed, you may not get as much quantity done, but the *quality* of that which you're doing is significantly affected for the better. You are better able to fully manifest ideas, interactions and experiences when you are allowing yourself to enter into them with your total being.

Enjoy you day!