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York-based First Capital Drumline performs at can't miss summer events

Jana Benscoter
York Dispatch

Participating in one of Philadelphia’s epic block parties or not playing his drum over the summer was an easy decision for 17-year-old Liam Bradley to make.

Bradley, along with his York-based First Capital Drumline bandmates, made noise on their 15-gallon trash cans at the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts Street Fair Saturday, June 9. It was the fourth the city held since 2011, and the first for Bradley.

Offering an unorthodox instrument — trash can drums — is popular with the players, director Zane Ruth said. Using them took his players to a "new level" at the arts festival, according to the independent percussion ensemble's Facebook page. 

“They learned how to adjust and adapt to constantly changing crowds and how to go with the flow when curves are thrown at them,” the group’s page noted.

It’s estimated that 200,000 people attended the Philadelphia event, which is unlike anything Bradley has seen. The experience only fuels his passion, he said.

“When I go to college, I definitely plan to continue drumline,” Bradley continued. “This is a really big help to not only hone your skills, but also to get used to performing.”

Bradley, who will be a senior at Dallastown Area High School, works a summer job, but he can always find time to play his drum, he said.

“It’s a good way to occupy your time because summer can get boring, especially if you’re a kid,” Bradley said.

Ruth applauds his students' summertime commitment, he said. 

“I think it’s great because a lot of these kids have summer jobs, take AP summer classes,” Ruth said. “It’s nice they give up a night a week, and get off the video games to come here.”

Bradley has been a member of First Capital for four years, he explained. Expanding his repertoire to trash can drumming advances his technique, he added.

“It’s so different hearing these garbage sounds, but if you hit them the right way, they all sound together and they sound really good,” Bradley said. “I personally really enjoy playing on different instruments because it’s something you’d never think you’d be able to do, and yet there’s a group of 20 doing it.”

The band will also be present at Creation Festival-Northeast from Wednesday, June 27, to Saturday June 30, at Agape Farm in Mount Union, Pennsylvania, Ruth said. This is the second time the band will perform at the event, he added. 

“We normally do competitions where it’s generally parents and family members,” Ruth said. “We usually do something with (York Revolution), and a lot of Fourth of July activities, but this is our first time going to more than one event outside York County.” 

Jon Gutekunst, also a Dallastown Area High School senior, said he appreciates that every role in the band is "equally important as the other." 

"We know that every part is needed in order to make it sound very good," he said. 

He acknowledged that trash can drums are a “different style.” Gutekunst said he likes them because he can throw his personality into it.

"We can move around and have a good time," the 17-year-old said. "We can have fun with trash can drumming. Being a part of a group like this is pretty rewarding."