For Monument couple, Taiko drumming is a way of life

By Andrea Sinclair Updated: January 24, 2014 at 8:34 am • Published: January 23, 2014 | 7:25 pm 0

Tucked away in a forested neighborhood in Monument, Colo., Carla and Jesse Maddox shape red oak and white ash into drums, polished and stained, with cow hides treated and stretched over the drum heads to form Taiko, drums that originate from Japanese folklore.

Energetic drumming can be heard from the home of a the young couple who found their purpose in the art of making and playing the drums.

"I've been a drummer my entire life and this really appealed to me," Jesse Maddox said. "To see an orchestra of drums was so great that I knew right away that I had to do that with my life, I found my calling."

Taiko means drum in Japanese and the type of group performance that Carla and Jesse Maddox take part in with their Colorado Springs-based, Taiko Society, is often referred to as kumi-daiko.

Originally from Dallas, Carla and Jesse Maddox moved to Colorado in 2005 and have been making taiko drums for 10 years, expanding their business through loyal customers and word-of-mouth to entertainment industry clients such as Grammy-nominated rock group Imagine Dragons. Most recently, they were commissioned to make a 22-inch head diameter by 36-inch long drum for the Broadway production of "Rocky."

"When he said we were going to make taiko, I thought he was crazy," Carla Maddox laughed. "But it evolved and grew into a great business."

With dreams of performing and fostering interest in taiko drumming in Colorado Springs, they started Taiko Society in March 2011 with six members. The community group has grown to 16 members ranging in ages from 15 to 70, with performances at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, The Broadmoor, the Harvest Moon Festival, the Japanese Festival at UCCS and Pikes Peak Center, to name a few.

"We have a really good group, it's really fun and made up of people who are very welcoming and very dedicated," Carla Maddox said.

Taiko drumming's origins were, for the most part, based in religious and mythological traditions, used mainly for temple rituals and ceremonies. In the 1960s, the art form was revolutionized and kumi-daiko, or group drumming, was created and developed into a performance art form.

"It's a new thing that really took off in North America right about the same time it blossomed in Japan," Carla Maddox said. "It has become popular around the world, you can find taiko groups everywhere in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Brazil, all over."

The couple have taken orders for taiko from clients as far as the Arctic Circle and they ship around the world, Carla Maddox said. The smallest drum starts around $485 and their largest 72-inch drum can cost upwards of $30,000.

In an ongoing effort to connect the community with taiko, Carla and Jesse Maddox teach weekly classes at the Colorado Springs Children's Chorale.

"We want as many people as possible to attend, so we don't have any set prices for the classes, it's a pay-what-you-can rate," Jesse Maddox said.

"One of the things we'd love to do, as far as how Taiko can positively affect person's lives, we'd love to work with at-risk youth," Carla Maddox added. "Taiko playing can really be approached like a martial art, because of all the discipline and dedication that goes into it, the time that's required to learn and practice, etc. We would love to see school-based programs developed for at-risk teens."

Taiko Society will perform at the Colorado Springs City Auditorium for the Chinese New Year Celebration on Saturday.

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