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Drum circle ends standoff, returns to Village Square on Dec. 22
Thursday, December 19th, 2013
Issue 51, Volume 17.
The chord, or accord, has cleared the way for the Fallbrook Drum Circle to return to the Fallbrook Village Square on Dec. 22. A free event will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. and participants are planning to bring non-alcoholic beverages and finger foods to share.
A drum circle leader recently announced an end to the standoff that had prompted the group to move to another location for several months. A representative of the Fallbrook Village Association confirmed that the Dec. 22 event will occur, but declined to give details of the arrangements.
"I think everybody will like that," Tom Rondeau, who launched the eclectic, monthly event about a dozen years ago, said of the resolution. "It is a draw for the town."
Rondeau said another leader of the circle negotiated the group’s return to the square. He deferred questions about the specifics of the resolution to him.
The April decision by the drum circle to move was the second of its kind by a loose-knit local musical group that does not charge dues to its participants or fees to its listeners. A ukulele group had previously abandoned the square over a pay-to-play dispute.
Both disputes centered on a small parcel that many area residents incorrectly assume is a San Diego County pocket park. The association owns and operates the plot of land at the southeast corner of Main and Alvarado streets.
The association grew out of the Fallbrook Revitalization Council, which formed in 1988 after a push to form a city sputtered in the rural unincorporated community. The Internet site for the association, which is led by a board of directors, states that its mission is to: "Increase the viability of Fallbrook’s economic, civic, cultural and artistic revitalization."
Over the years, the association acquired the Village Square and a small park that flanks a sliver of land along South Mission Road.
When the dispute surfaced publicly in April, association officials countered that all regular users of the square are required to help offset the park’s maintenance and operating costs. They noted that a lack of controls could lead to disputes over the site’s availability or business or community complaints could over surface over possible inappropriate uses.
The drum circle event typically attracts about 25 drummers playing a range of percussion instruments. Other musicians have frequently joined in with flutes, guitars, Australian didgeridoos and even an odd conglomeration of a drum, pedal and string that the performer has labeled a "gut bucket."
Some of the drummers traveled as far as San Jacinto and other distant communities to participate in the eclectic events. They typically attract a dozen or more onlookers who drift in and out of the gatherings as they shop or wander around downtown Fallbrook.
The dispute flared as Rondeau and several other drum circle participants grumbled when they were pressed to pay the $20 per hour rate that the association charges local nonprofit groups to use the square.
The group shifted to a less visible, but more hospitable location for its May 26 gathering. The drummers continued to meet at the California Sculpture Academy, which is located at 300 E. Alvarado Ave., but some felt the industrial setting was less conductive to open-air performances than the Village Square.
The standoff stirred discussion among Fallbrook musicians and other pockets of the community.
The issue was raised during a Nov. 12 general membership meeting of the Fallbrook Senior Citizens Club.
A ukulele player in the audience queried Ted Garrett, the newly-hired chief executive of the Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce, after he introduced himself to the seniors group and detailed his vision for the region. Part of the chamber’s mission, Garrett said is to help boost Fallbrook’s appeal as a tourism destination.
That goal can be reached by holding unique promotions, community events and arts-related activities that can help lure shoppers to local stores and businesses, he said.
"I find that (standoff) unfortunate," Garrett said in responding to the question. "When I found out (the Village Square) is privately owned, I was amazed. I had no idea."
Garrett told the seniors he hoped the standoff would be resolved. He said he wouldn’t be adverse to the drum circle performing in front of the chamber’s office on Sundays if such performances helped draw visitors to the village.
Rondeau said he did not know if Garrett or the chamber played a role in the association and the drum circle coming to terms. Rondeau said anyone with questions about the drum circle or the Dec. 22 event can telephone him at (760) 723-1899.
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