MUSIC MONDAY: My Conga Drums

We have a blog series called, “Music Monday,” here on Arner Adventures. Since music creates a soundtrack for our day-to-day living, it only makes sense. My (Gerry) conga drums sit in my music room as a mostly decorative item nowadays, but they’ve been so much more than that. I value musical instruments, especially my acoustic guitar. While I only have three instruments total (I have a Yamaha keyboard), my collection isn’t vast, but all that I need as a casual weekend musician. 

The guitar and keyboard, I got when I was in my 20’s. The conga drums go back way further than that. When I was in elementary school, my family would go to the Crabtree Valley Mall, in Raleigh, North Carolina, typically on a Friday night, twice/month. There was a music store called Sam Goody that was managed by a neighbor of ours, Mr. Falco. Mr. Falco’s son, Tony, was my age, and they lived in my neighborhood; he was also an occasional playmate. 

For months, I eyeballed the conga drums that sat in the music store. Being a slightly timid kid who was told not to touch things in stores that did not belong to me, I willfully obeyed. I don’t know if I had seen, or heard a set of conga drums anywhere before, but I was completely fascinated by them. Finally, I got up the nerve to tap the drum, as nobody was close to me, and the sound made me feel empowered! I could feel the vibrations reverberating through the air. This all built as a slow progression over time. Next time, it was two fingers at once, and then two fingers in succession, one after another. I did it lightly enough, not to attract any attention. I finally informed my parents, the congas must be mine. They resisted at first, trying to convince me, I knew nothing about drumming, and feared my fascination would be short lived. At last, they caved and bought me the drums.  I don’t remember if it was a birthday gift, or just an act of goodwill but the drums were going home with me. 

It turned out, they were right about this being a passing fascination, as I became quickly frustrated once I had full reign over the conga drums. I realized I knew nothing about keeping a beat. Nonetheless, they have stayed with me through the decades and do bring out an occasional fascination when my mood strikes, to tap out a beat. More of the time, they are still just a great decorative item, but packed with nostalgia. 

Mr. Falco’s son, Tony (my neighborhood friend) died of cancer in 2010, so I have nicknamed the congas, Tony, in the great tradition of naming one’s musical instrument. Tony was an accomplished musician as well. With our downsizing, and practice of minimalism, the congas have really taken on a special place among my prized possessions

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