Zion and I headed to C & C Custom Drums this morning. We’d been invited to do a walk through of the facility a few weeks ago, and when owner Bill Cardwell watched Zi unleash the wrath on a custom kit he’d built, he said “We need to bring that boy up to build himself some drums!” It was probably one of the most enjoyable mornings I’ve had with Zion in a long, long time.
Bill led Zion and I to the back room, where a huge assortment of drum shells could be found. They decided they’d build a club kit – a smallish set of drums that can fill a club with sound and yet fit easily into the trunk of a car. When asked what color he’d like his drums, Zion had no real answer…so Bill started pulling out sheets of laminate representing every color of the rainbow, exotic finishes, all the while muttering “or we could stain the wood for a natural look….”.
Zion made his choice, and Bill trimmed the laminate to fit the bass drum width. Note that this was about the last thing Bill would do without help from Zion! For the rest of the day, he’d start things and turn it over to Zion…even when it would take a lot longer for a 7 year old than it would have for Bill to do it himself. Bill’s a natural teacher.
Building a drum set involves a lot of glue. Zion was enlisted to apply the 3M adhesive to both the drum and the laminate he chose – a sparkly orange that made me think of a mashup between the General Lee and Disco Inferno.
As Zion spread the adhesive, Bill and I talked about everything under the sun. He’s full of love for Jesus, drummer jokes, and funny stories about musicians (He went to see his old friends, REO Speedwagon and Styx play the other night…and when asked how he liked the show, he told the guys from Styx “I pretty much quit listening to you guys with Mr. Roboto or whatever the heck that song was called.”)
We talked about growing up in the church, and how his father ended up in the deliverance ministry back when no one really knew what to think of all that. We talked about bringing unbelievers to church and that his musician buddies have been known to walk out of the auditorium to light up in the foyer. There were a lot of laughs and a lot of “Hmmm….” sounds that gave me stuff to think about for a while.
All the while, I’m watching Zion and being reminded about how much I love this kid. This one – who recklessly throws himself into a soccer game and is the last to surrender in a wrestling battle royal, is also remarkably detail oriented….meticulous…an artist. Much to Bill’s surprise, very little glue is wasted or ends up where glue should not be.
I couldn’t help but think that I was watching a formative day in this little life. The day he used his hands to form his own weapon. I began to understand why Zion was so serious. This drum kit -and others to follow – would pound out the sound of war.
Zion didn’t say much during the process. It became a joke with Bill, who would tell him “Don’t talk so much when we’re working…” even though Zion hadn’t said anything for fifteen minutes. Just because he wasn’t talking doesn’t mean he wasn’t thinking, though. I could almost read his mind. He was already thinking how cool a club kit was – his Tama set is too big to move, but this little kit could make him a working musician, gigging at a moment’s notice.
Zion was patient though, and Bill was a great hands-on teacher who explained not only the process but how many things he’d goofed up before landing on the process.
After a few hours, the bass shell was covered with orange sparkle laminate and the holes had been properly drilled for the hardware. We’ll put that on next time and then start on the tom and the snare, but we all agreed that this was a good morning’s work. And an all around good morning.
Many thanks to our new friend, Bill! We look forward to getting to know him a lot more in days to come.
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