Drum pusher Local musicians’s plan to beat drug abuse

By on June 5, 2013


GARY P. KLINGER Record Express Correspondent

, Staff Writer

Photo by Helen Seeberâ?©Bobby D. Jones beats the heat, and the drums, during last weekendâ??s musical anti-drug program at the Lititz water plant.

For one local musician, the battle against drug abuse is a passion, and his program "Get Hooked On Drums, Not Drugs" is instrumental in the effort.

Drummer Bobby D. Jones, known as Bobby D., gathered his troops last Saturday. The aim is to get kids in danger of abusing drugs and alcohol to find a more productive outlet through music, namely drumming.

Jones’ enthusiasm is addictive. So, too, is the enthusiasm of those who have partnered with him to make such an event happen.

The show is impressive. Even in Saturday’s oppressive heat, 10 full-sized drum sets, stacks of five-gallon plastic buckets and eight metal trash cans were enough to draw the attention of anyone in the vicinity of the Lititz Springs Pool and Lititz Springs Park. This year’s event was held at the borough’s water plant, behind the park.

Over the years, Jones has worked with and gotten to know a number of big names in the music business.

"As a drum tech and rehearsal drummer, I’ve had the pleasure of working for George Duke, Al Jarraeu, Richard Smallwood, The Winans, Fred Hammond & Commission, Esperalda Spalding, David Sanborn, WAR, The Whispers, Ohio Players, Boyz II Men, Pieces of a Dream, Chaka Khan, and almost everyone assigned to the Verity Record Label, and numerous others," he said. "I’ve also worked with numerous gospel choirs. I’m still one of the back-up drummers for the Drexel University Gospel Choir (my favorite)."

Jones talks about some of his memories of some big names in the business, mainly about how nice and down to earth most of them are.

"At a Philadelphia jazz festival I had to tech for, while waiting for the drum riser to be locked in place, I’m in the corner talking to George Duke and David Sanborn about site seeing in Philadelphia," he said. "I remember once being at home and I’m on the phone with John Blackwell (drummer for Prince, Justin Timberlake, Patty Labelle, Cameo and others). His contract with his drum head endorsement was up for renewal, but Prince did not like the sound. He called to ask my opinion on the Evans Heads I used and what I thought about what he was playing. Today, I am proud to say that John Blackwell is an Evans Heads endorser. Funny, every now and then people will say, ‘Sure, you talked to John Blackwell.’ I return with, did I tell you Shelia E and Prince were both in on the conversation?"

Having talent and knowing talent is one thing. Making a difference with that talent is another. Jones spoke about the impact he has seen his event have on youth.

"I am constantly running into drummers who tell me, ‘I saw you play at my school and knew then I wanted to be a drummer. I remember you saying you don’t need drugs to do this,’ he said. "Those instances make my day. What really makes my day is when they tell me the band they now play for; or better, who they are about to go on tour with."

"Get Hooked On Drums, Not Drugs" is an opportunity to nurture youth.

"You need something positive as an alternative to the negative vices," he explained. "My mother instilled in me, ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’

"I take the 150th Psalm literally and personally. To reach people with the gifts of arts, music and dance, for me, it’s my vocation and calling. ‘Hooked On Drums’ is the vehicle I use to reach youth and other drummers.

"’Hooked on Drums,’ in its simplest form, is Psalm 150 plugged in. For the ones who come back with, ‘What is that?’ Mission accomplished.

"’Not Drugs’ is the suffix of the program. In short, the world may glorify drug use in the media, videos and games, and in a lot of aspects music. I want to give kids something to really get hooked on – drums."

The effort to establish Jones’ "Get Hooked on Drums" program in Lititz has been an uphill effort, but he takes it all in stride.

"True, it has been a slight struggle getting people to learn who I am, and what I am trying to do," he said. "But good things come to those who wait. Yes, in some instances, it may be an uphill battle, but if opportunities came too easy, then there would be no lesson to learn from the experience. Here in my Lititz community, I continually meet people who stop me and say thank you for this or that, or they say I heard you playing downtown."

A humble man, Jones is quick to mention those who help.

"I am blessed to be working with the Warwick Educational Foundation for Family Fun Day, the 2014 Leo Lions Fire & Ice team, and the great people of the Lititz July 4th Committee," noted Jones. "When it comes to playing opportunities, my mentor Ken at Ken’s Music Center and Amy at Dosie Dough, or my good friend Dan at Freeze & Frizz, give me the opportunity to setup and play for them on 2nd Fridays.

Even the local high school marching band has come to know and love Jones and his movement.

Matt Wolfe, director of the Warwick High School Marching Band, was attended Saturday’s event with some of his students. In one installment of the program, Wolfe brought eight members from the band to sit and perform a humorous, yet very well-timed percussion piece on eight metal trash cans.

"This was our first time here," explained Wolfe. "The students themselves actually got the idea for using metal trash cans about two months ago. What’s remarkable is that except for two of them, none of them ever did percussion before."

Well known drummer Wes Crawford was part of the event as well. Now living in Silver Spring, Md., this was Crawford’s second time at the "Get Hooked on Drums" event. Having earned an MBA from Virginia Tech, he left his work as a psychologist in 1980 to begin doing music.

Crawford has worked with Jones not only here in Lititz but in Elkton, Md., where Jones used to live. He toured for over 11 years with various jazz and R&B artists. Since 1992 he has been a freelance performer.

"Kids just have too many choices today," said Crawford of his shared passion for the event. "Music kept us out of trouble. Music in a way has all of the good things of a fraternity rolled up into one. I just turned 56 and I enjoy this every bit now as I did when I was 22. And that’s the nice thing about music: there is no shelf life."

Jones admits that he has not heard of many huge success stories directly related to the annual event or any of the in-school assemblies he does each year. But he sees the successful impact it is having in other ways.

"What I consider a success is when I run into a student in a store and they introduce me to their parents as the drummer who came to their school," he said. "It gives me a chance to dialogue with them and to see just how much information was retained."

As Jones continues to use music and the arts as the vehicle to reach our youth, his goal is to take each day at one at a time. He serves as the drum set instructor at Cricket’s Performing Arts in Manheim. Together, they have a program called "Avenue of the Arts."

"Our common goal is to provide opportunities of the arts to students that they would normally not be exposed to," he explained. "These are things such as a ballet performance or private drum set lessons with me, or drum/ dance clinics which come our way. In short, the arts by any means necessary."

In the meantime, the hope is that "Get Hooked on Drums, Not Drugs" becomes a summer staple here in Lititz.

More DRUMS, page A5

About Lititz Record