Something happens to your soul when music is a part of the early years — it gets into your blood and drives your life in unimaginable ways. That’s what happened to Brian Kintner. Brian’s dad was a Minister of Music, and so music found its way into every aspect of Brian’s life. His entire family played recorder, and they used to play hymns and baroque music in harmony. From lessons to church choirs to a family to whom music was language, the roots were planted that would shape Brian’s growth. I met Brian at Imladris Farm during the community music jam that now meets at the Spring Mountain Community Center. Brian caught my attention with his laid-back mandolin playing. It’s an instrument he says he’s not known for, but it is how I came to know him. Especially fine is his rousing rendition of “Cluck Old Hen,” one of the band’s favorites, and we always egg him on to play it.
The Asheville Drum Circle One day last summer the band was playing at The Lord’s Acre, keeping the volunteers happy with some sweet sounds to accompany the garden work. The band got to chatting between songs and Brian happened to mention that he was the guy who began the Asheville Drum Circle way back in 1998. As it turns out, it all began because Brian is an electrical engineer, an electrician and a sound engineer. He says, “If it has a wire, I know what to do with it, legally and safely.” He had contracted with the city to design and install the beautiful lamplights at Pritchard Park in downtown Asheville. At the time he and a few others were playing drums at The Fortune Building on Friday nights, but the group was moving out of the building and needed somewhere else to meet. There was also a group of people drumming at the Vance Monument, and they were planning to relocate as well. Brian talked to his employer with the City of Asheville, Alan Glines, who suggested getting a busker’s permit, which would allow him to play music on the streets and put out a hat. Brian did that, and on the permit application he wrote, “Band Members Vary.” Glines also suggested that Brian talk to the chief of police, which he did, telling him “We want to play drums down at Pritchard Park, and we want to be the first to let you know!” Brian emailed his drum circle friends, of whom he had many since he was a real drumming enthusiast. He had more time then for that kind of thing, he says, because “that was B.C. (before children).”
Little did he know what would become of the drum circle in the years to come. “I’ve met people who moved to Asheville because of the drum circle — just because a community would have such a thing. The community has really turned it into a force. It’s closely watched by the police — think about it, there are always a couple of cops making money there on Friday night. A major tourist attraction happens from the circle. The restaurants and bars all around there benefit. I’ve felt really proud of what it’s become, both for the community and the local economy.” Brian favors congas and bongos, but the park circle has become so loud that he now plays a floor tom with an African stick just to be able to hear himself. “It’s best when there are lots of people dancing, they become a natural conductor. The drums really lock in because of the natural rhythm of the dancers.” As he does for all things loud, Brian wears earplugs during the circle. In fact, earplugs have been gracing his ears for most of his life, anytime things get noisy. He warns, “I still have some of the best hearing around, even though lots of my friends are going deaf, and that’s because I always wear earplugs and I always have.” When Brian isn’t playing music, installing electric work, solar systems and photovoltaics, or doing audio for shows, he’s working on an addition to his home in Fairview. The towering ceiling in the addition is tall enough to include a climbing wall for his son, and his installation of radiant heating will make it very cozy when the addition is finished. Brian shares his Fairview home with his wife Toerin and two kids, Benjamin and Clara Ann. He hopes someday to reprise a journey along the Appalachian Trail that he took “B.C.” with only a recorder as company; even his dog was too old to make that trip. Next time he makes the attempt he’d like to take his son along. Brian is available for electrical work and installations including solar, and for live audio engineering. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 628-6000.
Cat Vibert is a portrait, event and fine art photographer and writer. Her website is catvibe.com. She can be reached at 628-1927.