MY ART STORY by

Thomas Atkinson

Victorville
California

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Man at his drum kit in at a performance in a small club

Performing with Coast 2 Coast at the Rustic Tavern, Victorville. Photo by Lee Cheny

I am a musician. In 1975 I broke my back becoming a paraplegic. Before that I played drums and percussion in all school bands elementary through college. I started performing professionally at 13 years old. After release from the hospital I took up only percussion since I could not play my regular trap set. I have been able to make music with a variety of bands and venues. I have been blessed to work with world class musicians. All kind caring souls whose joy of performing is infectious. We strive to spread the music infection. The larger thing for me though is that music, drumming in particular, has long been one of my main personal therapy escape and healing mediums. I have a decent collection of percussion instruments from around the world and use them in my home studio to record music that is based in native drums, percussion and flute. I also add a bit of acoustic guitar and keyboards. My intention is to pay homage to all the tribes that are my roots African, Native Aboriginal and European.

Other projects find me giving lectures and Cal State San Bernardino for my nephews’ classes. There I speak on African Americans and the Conga Drum and its historic uses as well as its importance in American music. I also perform for two local charity type programs with the intention of paying it forward and spreading the joy of performing. One is the music program, run by Mr. Paul Starks’ Parade of Pianos which is a charity where musical instruments are donated to Victor Valley Museum for the purpose of finding homes for serious music students. There are two recitals a year performed by the students who partake in the Parade of Pianos.

One other is that I have started doing drum circles for therapy exercise and fun. Amongst the first clients is the Fam-Spot program in Victorville, California. Fam-Spot is an afterschool program for disadvantaged youth. These kids need the drumming for the therapy escape meditation and fun. So there I introduce them to the art and fun side of free style drum circles and mix in bits of history and music and life lessons. This Fam-Spot gig is a wonderful thing. I get the most joy from the kids as they grow from I “can’t play nothing “ to finding themselves being able to play and wanting to come back to learn. This leaves me feeling the mission of spreading the joy of performing is being accomplished. Now, more than few of them want to take up other instruments. We will be steering them towards the Parade of Pianos. Hopefully they shall continue to make their joyful noise and grow to spread the joy and art of music further.

"Wade in the Dungle Water," a nod to "Wading in the Water." Recorded at home Played all percussion and flute. Bass guitar by Jerome Lee Washington. Thomas Atkinson producer musician. Recorded at Blocks Head Music Studios Hesperia, CA.