Penticton drummer hopes the rhythm catches on

A DJ, drum and dance party in Penticton next week will act as a warm up for the Okanagan Rhythm Festival.

Bobby Bovenzi does a bit of street theatre at the Penticton Farmers' Market last summer

Bobby Bovenzi does a bit of street theatre at the Penticton Farmers' Market last summer

A DJ, drum and dance party in Penticton on June 1 will act as a warm up for the Okanagan Rhythm Festival.

“It is the first time we have tried a party like this here, so it is a little experimental,” said Bobby Bovenzi, event organizer. “In the past I have drummed with DJs in bars and clubs and people have really enjoyed it. I love to drum along with a DJ because it gives a different sound with the bass, singing and synth effects.”

The first set of the evening will begin at 7 p.m. with a family friendly drumming circle and dancing combined with DJ Tribalizer spinning hip hop, disco and funky grooves. The stage will then be turned over to Lobo Blanco to get everybody moving to their original funky Latin reggae dance grooves with a 45 minute set.

The second set begins at 9 p.m. and includes the opening of the beer and wine sales, featuring Firehall Brewery from Oliver and Clos du Soleil wine from Keremeos. Lobo Blanco will close  the evening with DJ Tribalizer vs drum circle/trance/tribal jam until about midnight.

“We will have 60 or 70 drums available for people to join the drum circle with the DJ and it will go back and forth with the DJ spinning different styles of house and trance music. It is also open for people to come out and dance,” said Bovenzi.

It was will working on his masters degree in elementary education, with a bachelors in African American studies, Bovenzi first found his passion for drumming. He took an African drum class to learn about the culture and fell in love immediately.

“I was starting to work in the city school system in New York where I grew up and I brought my drums into the class and attendance went from 60 per cent to almost 90 per cent. I decided I wasn’t really loving math, science and the curriculum, but I loved doing the drumming after school so I decided to do this as my profession,” he said.

Bovenzi moved to Oregon, where he met his wife, and came to the Okanagan to conduct a family music camp and also fell in love with the area. Now he has anywhere from 75 to 100 students drumming throughout the valley.

“Surprisingly, the people who come to class are mostly women. I think the power of the drum really speaks to women. It is a little bit therapeutic, but what I find is women don’t necessarily have the hang-ups that men do. Women are more free to get up and dance and do something in front of someone else and not feel so judged,” said Bovenzi, although he added he is starting to see more men sign up for beginner classes.

It is another reason why he organized the DJ, drum and dance party in Penticton. Bovenzi is inviting people who are new to drumming to join experienced drummers in the drum circle with hopes to expose more people to it.

Nankama World Beat Events is putting the party together to promote the third annual Okanagan Rhythm Fest at the Rotary Centre for the Arts in Kelowna June 22 to 23. Both events are sponsored by Big O Tires. Okanagan Rhythm Fest will feature performances, drum circles and a DJ dance party on June 22 and a full day of workshops on June 23 including African, Brazilian, Middle Easter, Frame, Cajon, Japanese and Afro-Cuban drumming. There will also be a didgeridoo and West African dance workshop and a closing night salsa dance party.

The June 1 DJ, drum and dance party will be held at Orchard House Theatre in Penticton and is an all ages, family-friendly show.

Tickets are available at Red Bag Clothing, Dragon’s Den and Fibonacci Café and Roastery or at the door and are $15. Kids aged 12 and under are free. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.