The Drum Exchange (4501 Interlake Ave. N.) is celebrating 20 years of business with a free celebration on Saturday, October 20th from 1 pm – 4 pm, including Seattle’s largest cowbell jam and special guest appearance with Bruce “More Cowbell” Dickinson (a.k.a., actor/musician Tim J. Hickey, who apparently does an stunning impersonation of the Chrisopher Walken SNL character).
Here’s a bit about the shop:
The seeds that sprouted The Drum Exchange actually began in Chicago, where a young Ed Hartman was making noise in the basement playing his Camco drumset. His neighbors dubbed him “Bongo Eddie” and he hung out in the famous drum shops of downtown Chicago, soaking in all he could about many kinds of percussion instruments. He then went to Indiana University, where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in Percussion. In 1979, he packed up his drums and vibes and drove his “Ford LTD” to Seattle to start his percussion career. Ed toured the Pacific Northwest and performed with many musicians, orchestras, theatre/dance groups and started several arts organizations. In the mid-1980s, Ed found a kindred spirit named John Avinger, who had recently started “John’s Music” on the “Ave” in the University District. Ed started a percussion teaching studio within John’s store and after a few years, they decided to move to a new location in Wallingford. At that time in the early 1990s, the hand drum movement was in full swing. As State Chapter President of Percussive Arts Society, Ed produced “Days of Percussion” featuring regional and national percussionists. With John’s help, this evolved into the World Rhythm Festival, an annual event the Seattle Center.
The focus of John’s Music was mainly World percussion, so Ed started to sell rebuilt used drumsets, cymbals and hardware. In 1992, Ed officially created “The Drum Exchange” and set-up shop next door to John’s Music. Although it might seem illogical to open a drum shop next to another drum shop, each specialized in different drumming realms: John’s Music offered hand drums and world percussion and The Drum Exchange offered drumsets and concert percussion. Over the years, each shop went through many changes; walls were built, torn down and built again. A major turning point happened in 2008 when The Drum Exchange expanded and doubled the size of their showroom. This change provided a new opportunity to hold events with renowned percussionists such as Carmine Appice, Dave Samuels, Mark Walker and Pete Escovedo. Some events were offbeat such as the one about triangle beaters (that’s right, just the beater), recycled junk percussion and the “Most Bashed & Trashed Drumhead” contest. Last year, John unplugged the John’s Music cash register for good and is now enjoying a well-deserved active retirement. With this huge change, The Drum Exchange transformed again, adding World percussion along with drumsets, and merging the two drumming realms into one (very compact) space.
Today, life at The Drum Exchange has its own unique rhythm with Ed teaching lessons and fixing drums, his wife, Candace, handles marketing and adds a creative touch to the shop, and longtime (in-store) drum instructor, Vance Nurkala, inspires students to excel in drumming. Over the years, despite the insurgence of big box stores, mega-online retailers and a weak economy, The Drum Exchange has reached its 20th year; a big accomplishment for a small retail business! Upbeat and sometimes offbeat, The Drum Exchange keeps the beat going as a local resource for drummers/percussionists of all ages and levels.