Mike McDonald has been a professional drummer for thirty years and has played with bands such as The Catch, The Fables, and Anchors Aweigh. He has always loved Gros Morne National Park and, in fact, has lived in Gros Morne for six months of the year for the past ten years. He has been actively involved in the Trails, Tales and Tunes Festival in Norris Point since its inception fourteen years ago, and has also been a tour boat Captain in the Park. For this Connecting through Culture project, Mike has chosen to create a hand drum made from locally sourced materials.
Newfoundlanders have been creating music and instruments for a long time and it is a huge part of the local culture which is why he chose to make a hand drum made from locally sourced materials. While Mike has been making drums for over twenty years, this one is special as it is made from locally sourced materials. His passion for music is evident in his beautiful project The Drum of Gros Morne, which was completed during the fall and winter of 2020.
Mike describes the process of creating the handmade drum.
“Normally in the past I made drums in the shape of a Djembe (think hourglass) and carved out of one solid piece, or as we say “junk” of wood. For this project I chose to make a stave construction from wood that I sourced from a local sawmill in Rocky Harbour. Single strips of wood, cut to an angle on the sides that when glued together, would form a circle and the shape of a barrel. The wood represents the logging industry of Newfoundland that began with men in camps cutting trees by hand saws and dragging them out with horse and cart, a very very difficult way to make a living. I chose the barrel shape to represent the days of when salted cod was delivered by newfoundland ships to the British west Indies and in trade, a rum that eventually became known as Screech was brought back to Newfoundland in barrels. The seal skin head I used was to represent the long history of sealing in Newfoundland which once provided a living and a source of clothing and food for many people. Sealing has been a controversial subject for many years that has resulted in its decline, but not total decimation. The green marine rope represents the fisher people, who work so hard to earn a living and put food on their tables. This is another industry that has seen many hardships and decline on the island of Newfoundland but still remains, yet is a far cry from when it was the main source of income for many in our province.”