Contact us to advertise on the podcast!

Contact us to advertise on the podcast!

#105 Royal Hartigan- Drummer, Percussionist, Educator & Author!

#105 Royal Hartigan- Drummer, Percussionist, Educator & Author!

This week’s guest is Royal Hartigan. Royal is a percussionist, pianist, and tap dancer who has studied and performed the musics of Asia, Africa, Europe, West Asia, and the Americas, including indigenous West African drumming, dance, song, and highlife; Turkish bendir frame drum; Japanese taiko drumming; Philippine kulintang gong and drum ensembles; Chinese Beijing, Cantonese, and Kunqu opera percussion; South Indian solkattu rhythms; Korean pungmul drum and gong ensemble; Javanese and Sumatran gamelan; Gaelic bodhran; Native American drumming; Dominican merengue; Brazilian samba; Cambodian sampho drums, Vietnamese clapper percussion, European symphony; and African American blues, gospel, funk, hip-hop, and jazz traditions.

First up is our educational spotlight. It is a blog post by the percussionist Drew Tucker about how percussionists aren’t trained well in “learning music” immediately in their tutelage, and ideas on what you can do to change that.

We recommend checking out the episode we did with Gerald Myles on some educational tips and tricks you can use. Added bonus, is the roundtable episode we did with Thom Hannum, Colin McNutt and Ian Hale on how to have a strong and consistent program year after year.

We did an episode with Suz Paulinski and Cheryl Englehardt about setting yourself up for the new year. Here is a blog post by Suz about setting goals and a PDF worksheet from Cheryl to help track your success in the new year.

Music news for this week is that Jimi Hendrix is getting a post office in Seattle named after him.

Namm is coming up in January in Anaheim, CA.

The iconic recording is “Auld Lang Syne” performed by Jimi Hendrix and the Band of Gypsys from the Live at the Filmore East album.

The song leading into the interview, in the intermission and leading out of the interview is from THIS ALBUM, and can be heard below…..

Damon first found out about Royal from a masterclass he gave at Umass Amherst when Damon was a student. He then went and bought his book, “West African Rhythms for Drumset”.

Royal learned to tap dance like his mother and Uncle Ray Hart. His uncle Ray danced with some of the greats like Peg Leg Bates, The Hines Brothers and even sat in with Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.

This link here goes into more detail about the history of the drumset, as well as the two inventors of the fly swatters from Milwaukee.

Here’s a quick video of Steve Gadd on the Mickey Mouse club playing drums (and tap dancing at the end).

Before the Juba (early hamboning), there were slave revolts in Virginia leading to drums being banned from the slaves so there would not be any more uprisings.

Royal talks about the early drumset and one instrument he mentions is the scabellum from ancient Rome (pictured below).


Here’s a video of the history of the drumset by Daniel Glass in cooperation with Vic Firth……

Here’s an image of Sonny Greer’s setup (also pictured, Duke Elliington).

Sonny Greer.jpg

The documentary that Royal brings up by Alan Lomax is called “Where the Blues Began”.

Before becoming a professional drummer and educator Royal almost became a priest. After that he went into the Peace Corps. He then returned to UMass Amherst and received a second bachelor’s degree in music. The field of study was Jazz Performance (also known as AAJ, African American Jazz studies). After Umass, Royal got his Masters and Doctorate from Wesleyan University. He then taught in Hartford, CT at Hartford Public, Wesleyan, The New School University, San Jose State University, and then ending up at Umass Dartmouth.

Royal started to expand the curriculum where he was teaching, most notably at Umass Dartmouth.

Royal mentions playing some orchestral music as well and points out Igor Stravinsky’s “L'Histoire du Soldat” with it being a bit of a ballet and a bit of a musical drama at the same time.

Royal’s first book is “Blook Drum Spirit” and can be found at PAS. The “West African Rhythms for Drumset”, book was mentioned previously and his third one is called “Dancin’ on the Time”. His forth one is called one called “West African Eve Rhythms for Drumset

He has music under the title “Blood Drum Spirit”.

He also has a movie called “We Are One

If you are looking to get started in West African music (specifically the drumming and dance), Royal has spent the most time in Ghana and he recommends going to the Dagbe Cultural Institute and Arts Center.

Damon and Royal talk about the Cape Coast Castle, which was one of the largest slave ports of sending slaves to the new world. Royal also brings up Max Roach’s “We Insist Freedom Now Suite” and “Triptych: Prayer, Protest, Peace” with Abbey Lincoln. Damon brings up the style of Timba music from Cuba.

Some of the music that changed Royal’s life was McCoy Tyner’s group with Sonny Fortune - sax, Alphonse Mouzon - drums & Calvin Hill - bass. This is the “newest” version we could find of “Body and Soul” performed by John Coltrane.

You can reach out to Royal via email at:, Facebook, his Website, the kekeli drum and dance page, or YouTube or check out his group Blood Drum Spirit on Facebook & Twitter, as well as following We Are One the movie on Instagram.

#106 Tony Escapa- Drummer for Ricky Martin and More!

#106 Tony Escapa- Drummer for Ricky Martin and More!

#104 Jon Hazilla- Drummer and Faculty at Berklee College of Music

#104 Jon Hazilla- Drummer and Faculty at Berklee College of Music