Texas BigBeat: A Mighty Racket For Such A Small Crowd

Sunday afternoon at Bush Intercontinental Airport, the sound of drums roared through the air, all but drowning out the planes taking off in the background. The Fourth Annual Texas BigBeat drumming charity event was a success in its continued work toward promoting music and supporting local charities.

Unfortunately, similar to almost every other music-oriented event in Houston, its only downside was the lack of attendance.

That's not to say that no one was there. Over 100 drummers had set up shop all throughout the complex. But the number of people attending the event has been on a steady decline since its inception in 2004. Surely, this must be because people don't know about it.

If they knew about it, they would be attending, right? It's for a good cause, after all.

The money raised by BigBeat goes to supporting educational programs in connection with Houston-area schools, like Cherish Our Children International and the No More Victims Program, which provides support for children with incarcerated parents; many people were walking around the complex with shirts that read, "I'm Being Educated, Not Incarcerated."

While the entire day was impressive and fun, the main event, by far, were the Lone Star Choppaz.

"It all goes back to high school," said Brandon Jones, who has been with the group since its inception in 2004. "I went to Sterling, and we ran the South side of the drums, and Smiley ran the reputation on the North side. Every time we saw each other, it was a good competition."

The Choppaz didn't happen by accident. Many of the members have known each other for years but were on different sides of the drum lines.

"When we were in high school, we were going to combine together and go to Dallas for a drumming competition, but it never happened," Jones said. "So when we got to college, we figured we could still do it, so we just combined together even though some of us are at different universities. As soon as marching season's over... we'll come together, put down some cadences, do warm-ups and just come up with it."

In 2007, the group traveled to Austin for a camp and is regularly featured in Texas Southern University's Greater Houston All Star Band, too. Many of the members also teach at local high schools.

While the Choppaz don't have another show planned any time soon, Jones says that one phone call can change all of that.

"We ready to go," Jones said. "We're just waiting on calls. If anybody wants to do something, we're on it."

After the Choppaz's performance, awards were given out for the day's fastest drummer, the most colorful and the smallest drum kits and a bevy of other random prizes that promoted drummers, drumming and music as a whole.

Perhaps we're preaching to the choir, but really... why weren't more people there? Its first year, about 400 people showed up, fewer the next, fewer the next, and this year barely more than 100 drummers came to the event.

Still, even with the relatively poor attendance, the afternoon was brilliant; the weather was perfect, and the percussion was impressive, especially all the youthful potential was inspiring.

We'll check in from time to time, and we'll be there next year. Hopefully more people will be, too.

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