Whenever I run into a talented artist, I wish I had a much larger online following so I can promote the heck out of them and help them achieve their dreams. Sometimes I wish it so hard I forget it’s not true. Then I make sweeping, self-aggrandizing statements about how ginormous my international network is, so let’s do a video/photo sesh/interview! It’ll be great!
Then I land back on Earth, and I swear I try to talk myself back down enough that I fit inside the humble little bubble of reality, but by then I’ve already seen the excitement in my eyes reflected in the eyes of artist I’m (most likely) squealing at. I sell the dream. That’s what happens.
The thing about artists is they either have talent or they don’t. These two guys, Taylor Kinnett (in the glasses) and Shane Meredith (in the backward hat), have it. So I said, “Let’s make a video!” And they said, “Yeah!” And they looked at each other, spoke drum language, and started to jam on three.
I was actually around a corner on the way to my car when I first heard their beats. Whatever they were drumming sounded familiar and gave me that belly dance feeling. I stashed my bag and walked their way instead of heading home. When I got there, they’d attracted a small group of women who danced around them and professed love before heading to a Tuesday night study session. As they left, Taylor shouted, “I love you, too!” Then he smiled and shifted his attention back his drum. It was utterly charming. Naturally, I took a seat and listened until they took a break in their set. Then I asked them questions.
It turns out Taylor and Shane have been practicing together on the Indiana University campus for the last three years. They made an agreement to achieve a certain level of skill before they would play around town. Shane indicated a paper cup on the ground in front of the duo before clarifying that they wanted to be seriously good before asking for money.
Shane also said he and Taylor have a dream of studying with a djembe master in Africa. They don’t know how it will happen yet, or who the instructor will be, but they are working steadily toward that dream.
I have the pleasure of working with writers who put a similar level of effort into honing their craft, but I have met many, many artists who slap paint on a canvas, words on a page or beats on a drum and argue against expending energy beyond the initial creation. It’s an ego-driven idea that moves beyond art into a failure to grow your person.
I’m happy to say that’s not these guys. They have developed a language within their music that you can see in this video. They follow one another with ease, love what they do, and keep sight of their dream as they work to make it happen. And Shane has his own charming moment when he looks at the camera and smiles, half for the audience and half for the drum. Watch for it.