KEVIN DENNIS, best known throughout his musical career as "KD", has been a follower of West
African Drumming since the mid 70's. He has studied and performed drum music ranging from
Ghana, Senegal, Mali...most of West Africa. His early influences and training was on the
DONDO (Talking Drum), where he performed in the first group of it's kind at BUSCH GARDENS
Subsequently, KD has been studying drumming of the MANDE, DAGOMBA, and YORUBA peoples...and
is quite proficient on many West African instruments including the DJEMBE, DONDO, BALAFON,
DJUN-DJUN (also called DUNDUN), KPANLAGO and ASHIKO...to name a few.
LIVING DRUM is a realization of KD's dream to devote his professional life to the music and
people of West Africa.
LIVING DRUM offers authentic hand-made drums, shipped direct from Africa and available to you
at affordable prices, including djembes, djun-djuns, shekeres and many related African
percussion instruments, but not only drums... stringed instruments such as the KORA, bamboo
flutes and more.
KD offers private lessons, group workshops, drum circles, community drumming as well as
drum circles/workshops for increasing awareness of the rich African culture.
LIVING DRUM IS ALL ABOUT HEALTHY LIVING
Karen relaxed on the black sand beach in Hana, Maui
Kevin and Karen after a breathtaking ride down Mount Haleakela, Maui
KD's wife, co-owner KAREN O'NEILL-DENNIS, also makes available to you, African
beauty products including BLACK SOAP, NATURAL SHEA BUTTER, AROMA THERAPY OILS, MUDCLOTH,
DASHIKIS and a vast assortment of beautiful clothing, jewelry and authentic artwork from
Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Guinea and the region. Karen's extensive knowledge in the beauty and
"healthy living" industry stems from her career as a licensed cosmetologist and current
association with WHOLE FOODS in Tampa in the "Whole Body" department.
(coming soon a page to be added for the "HEALTH AND BEAUTY" products)
KD's PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:
2009-Current / All Pro Percussion, Tampa
Teaching all percussion instruments, primarily drum kit (all styles-jazz, fusion, rock,
double-bass)and accepting new students currently at the bay area's leading music store for
drums and percussion
Also doing retail sales and marketing as the local schools' liaison
2009-Current / World Percussion Workshops
Teaching West African Djembe and West African percussion at 2 different Yoga studios in a
group format. Drum Circle Facilitator and actively participates in other Tampa Bay drum
2005-Present / Mercy
Drummer for 60's-70's group known for #2 Billboard hit song "LOVE CAN MAKE YOU HAPPY" in
1969. Managed by Wolfman Jack Entertainment, this collaboration results in the occasional
oldies concert with other groups. See www.wolfmanjack.com
1998-2006 / Dagari (New Age Jazz trio)
Played drums and vibraphone for this dynamic "new age" group named after the DAGARI people of
northern GHANA, noted for high energy covers and originals. Highlights included opening for
YANNI outside the St. Pete Times Forum for his 2005 tour...and 3 CD's were released.
1995-1998 / Ray Charles
Performed on stage with RAY CHARLES ORCHESTRA as the sole percussionist for Florida
performances. Duties included all backup percussion...vibes, marimba, chimes, tympani congas,
shakers and world percussion instruments.
1997 / Little Anthony & The Imperials
Played drums with this group for their Tampa concert. This was the first tour that re-united
Anthony with the original Imperials...most noted for their 50's and 60's hits "Shimmy Shimmy
Coco-Bop" and "Hurt So Bad".
1992-2000 / The Spanish Lyric Theater
Performed all drums and percussion for concerts and theater shows, primarily at THE
PERFORMING ARTS CENTER in Tampa. Focus was latin percussion spanning the globe and historical
chronology of Spanish/Latin music.
1992-Present / Composer / Record Producer / Engineer
Produced and Engineered all recordings of THE SPANISH LYRIC THEATER, DAGARI and numerous
personal compositions performed by various groups with which I played all percussion. Studio
experience stemmed from having recorded for the entire summer of 1973 at CRITERIA STUDIOS, Miami with
Grammy Award winning Engineer KARL RICHARDSON...noted for recording DEREK AND THE DOMINOES'
"LAYLA" and later THE BEE GEES (all of their disco hits).
1978-1992 / Freelance Studio and Live Performer / Drum Instructor
During this time I taught privately, preparing students for college and music careers. As
"guns-for-hire" percussionist, I collaborated on a project with local pianist, BRYAN SHULER
to record an audition at the request of GREG LAKE, Bassist/Singer for EMERSON, LAKE AND
PALMER. Greg Lake and KEITH EMERSON had heard Bryan perform solo piano while on tour here and
Mr. Lake asked Bryan to submit original material for his new publishing company. I performed
all percussion including African drums, trapset and avante-garde percussion. This
collaboration included DAVID MUSE from FIREFALL. Also during
this time I performed with various groups, most notably CYPRESS with BOB BRIDGES, throughout
the southeast region and the Bahamas. As part of this freelance era, I studied and became
certified at public access television production (ie. camera, technical directing, editing
1972-1978 / Mythril (This group was to be my biggest influence for future career)
In 1972 I met local guitarist JIM WEST, pianist RICHARD YOUNG and Mythril was born...a local cover/original band we
created under influences from YES and KING CRIMSON. This group went through
transformations...notably USF composition professor, HILTON JONES, who merged with this band
and led it to be a well-known group for innovative avante-garde and new-age fusion. Along
with this new collaboration, composition student STEVE JAY became bassist for Mythril. During
this powerful period Mythril auditioned for EPIC RECORDS in NYC, recorded at CRITERIA STUDIOS
in Miami, and were significant in productions of HEAD THEATRE at USF, where we performed
concerts with film projections behind the group. Mythril was also taken under the wing of
famed jazz pianist CHICK COREA for consultation in management. We visited Chick's home
outside of NYC and were invited to his hotel room and sound check at a St. Pete performance
with RETURN TO FOREVER and learned much about the music "business". STEVE JAY and JIM WEST
later became members of WEIRD AL YANCOVIC'S GROUP circa 1982 after moving to L.A. ( see
1975 / Busch Gardens Entertainment
As a result of a 2-year hiatus to West Africa by Mythril bassist STEVE JAY, where he studied under
master drummer and griot, ISAH HAMANI, he and I created Busch Gardens' first "authentic" West
African drum group. This group performed throughout the theme park and set the stage for more
authenticity in the park.
1970-1975 / University of South Florida
Earned Bachelor's Degree in percussion performance 1975. Tutored pre-college percussion
1968-1970 / Titusville High School
Section leader in the band. Played in first professional rock group with best friend,
guitarist BOB BRIDGES. Also played in a Jazz Band that got KD his first television
1960-1970 / Private Lessons
Studied privately with FRANK ADAMS formerly with THE PAUL WHITEMAN ORCHESTRA.