Faces of Kansas City: Man's fascination with drum-making - KCTV5

Faces of Kansas City: Man's drum-making talents result in big requests

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BALDWIN CITY, KS (KCTV) -

While many look at a tree and all they see is a tree, when Cyrus Fillmore looks at one, he sees musical instruments of all shapes and sizes.

"This is where the drum starts," he said.

Fillmore is a wizard with wood.

"Got elm, peach, cedar, cottonwood," he said. "And the didgeridoos - there's didgeridoo material in here too. That's peach right there."

To Fillmore, every log here has hidden potential.

"These will become like the Native American-style council drums. That guy over there is going to be something weird - I haven't decided exactly what it is," he said.

On his quiet farm just outside Baldwin City, KS, Fillmore gets busy making noise. Twenty years ago he became infatuated with drums after he was asked to sit in on a drum circle and play the conga drums.

"But the whole time I'm standing there looking at all these other drums and other players I'm not thinking about how I need to play better. I'm thinking, 'I could make these,'" Fillmore said.

At the time Fillmore was working at a cabinet shop, so having an ample supply of wood and tools wasn't a problem.

"From there it just went (up). That first drum caught somebody's eye and they said, 'I'll give you x amount for it' and I was like 'I hadn't thought about selling them,'" he said.

Depending on the demand, Fillmore might make as many as 80 drums a year.

Not too long ago, the Kansas City Chiefs called with a big request. They were looking for a very large drum that could be pounded on at every Chiefs home game.

Chiefs great Will Shields was seen banging Fillmore's biggest creation yet and golf legend Tom Watson is the latest to bang the 6-foot drum.

Fillmore specializes in African drums, but he has a soft spot in his heart for the sounds of Australia. He claims to be the only didgeridoo maker in all of Kansas. But it's a homemade drum he always circles back to.

"This is one I put together this morning," he said after which KCTV5's Brad Stephens responded, "You just popped a drum together this morning? You're quick."

For more information on Cyrus Fillmore, his creations and how you can order one of your own, head to www.djembeanddidge.com.

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