Dowagiac man has a heavy beat on the drums

Published 9:19 pm Thursday, June 20, 2013

CASSOPOLIS — Dave Stroup practices for the July 11-13 WFD (World’s Fastest Drummer) World Finals at Nashville’s New Music City Center using five-pound dumbbells as drumsticks.
Stroup, 49, of Dowagiac, is the proprietor of Stroup’s Gold and Discount Shop, 806 E. State St., and a lifelong musician who once yearned to be part of that city’s country music scene.
Stroup’s Gold and Discount Shop evolved out of 2011’s Coin Collectible Corner inside Rev’s Pawn Shop, M-51 South.
He and his wife, Sheila, formerly built recreational vehicles in Elkhart, Ind., for a living.
Stroup started in gold and silver 10 years ago. He buys and sells coins, jewelry, TVs, computers, appliances, DVD’s, movies, games and tools.
The extreme sport of speed drumming is an enduring passion for the 1982 Union High School graduate.
One might expect to find him sitting behind a huge drum kit. Instead, he works out in basement with a Drumometer, a stroke-timing device patented by Boo McAfee, who was inspired by attending the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) summer show in Chicago in 1975, where Buddy Rich challenged Barrett Deems’ claim to be the world’s fastest drummer. The WFD started in 2000. There are two categories of competition, fastest hands and fastest feet.
Woodwind and Brasswind crowned “Michiana King of Speed,” which Stroup won in 2006 and 2007. He was supposed to advance to Anaheim, but there was a snafu with sponsorships and he ended up not going.
“Last year, 1,005 (strokes in 60 seconds) won the fastest hands championship, and I thought, ‘Man, I should have gone,’ ” Stroup said Tuesday.
He is of a generation of schoolboys who grew up playing “Wipe Out” on their desktops.
A minute of the Safaris song translates to about 820 strokes. Stroup’s personal best remains 1,108.
“I went to a fastest drummer contest in Indianapolis in December 2008,” he said, “and beat the symphony orchestra percussion leader. My personal best with my feet is 960. People show up from all over the world — Australia, Canada, Hong Kong. Whoever makes the top 10 varies from 850 up to 1,000. It takes a half hour to get warmed up or it hurts,” he says, tattooing a burst of staccato beats on the worn Drumometer head that sounds like machine gun fire.
“My most recent best was 1,071, which I did last week,” Stroup said.
“It depends on who shows up. The prize in each category is a $5,000 Pearl drum set, drumsticks with your name engraved on them and a big WFD belt, like wrestlers get. I’m excited.”
“Oddball records” are another aspect, such as playing upside down.
That’s where Stroup said he also hopes to make a mark — with his “dumbsticks.”
“When I’m really warmed up,” he said, “I can do over 1,000 strokes with five pounds in each hand, using weights as drumsticks.
“I’d like to win a nice prize, but it’s the recognition I want,” Stroup said. “It’s kind of a quirky thing to a lot of people, but I want to be known for it. I’ve always been moving my hands since I drummed on my school desk. I play eight to 10 instruments, but this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
Once Stroup quit chasing his musical dreams so hard, they became easier to catch.
He aspired to be a country artist in Nashville. He released a CD of country covers.
Stroup has been “Crooner Tex,” lead singer for the Hoosierbillies, a Branson-style show band with a dozen members which performed monthly at Bendix Theatre inside the Century Center in South Bend, Ind.
He was vocalist for a rock group with the Pontius brothers, Noah (bass) and Jonathan (lead guitar), which played at the Wounded Minnow.
Though he’s lived in Dowagiac since 1969, he was born in Missouri into a family of gospel singers and rooted for the St. Louis Cardinals when they defeated the Detroit Tigers in the 2006 World Series.