By Connie Leinbach
Some places have world-renowned artists playing “quarantine concerts” but only Ocracoke has 7-year-old drummer Dallas Mason.
Dallas, whose native talent as a drummer asserted itself less than two years ago, has been playing his drums along with recorded rock songs in his basement during the stay-at-home COVID-19 quarantine.
The youth will join the Rockers at 8 p.m. Saturday (May 23) during an indoor concert, live from the Ocracoke Community Center, in honor of the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department (OVFD), which would normally be putting on its annual fundraiser, the Firemen’s Ball on Memorial Day Weekend. COVID-19 precautions continue to prevent mass gatherings of people.
One of Dallas’s recent installments, all filmed by his mother, Emilie Burrus Mason, is a James Gang number in “Quarantine concert #33.” In it, younger brother, Asher, prefaces the performance with a joke.
“Hey, Dallas,” says Asher. “How do you make an octopus laugh?” (You’ll have to view the video link below for the answer.) Then after Asher gives the punchline, he ka-thumps another set of drums, just like the bands on late night television talk shows.
The Ocracoke community witnessed Dallas’s public debut last year during the first annual Seafood Festival on Aug. 31 in the Berkley Barn.
This was after all the food was consumed and attendees were enjoying music by the Ocracoke Rockers. Dallas joined the local favorites for a few numbers and promptly wowed the crowd.
“He’s been singing and dancing since he could walk,” said his dad, Shane. “He’s always just had rhythm. Everybody could tell.”
Then his grandparents, Rex and Miggie O’Neal, bought him a set of drums for Christmas and his interest took off.
That was about a year and a half ago, or “since I was about 5 or 6,” Dallas said. While he likes the guitar, drums offer more nuance.
“Each drum has a different rhythm. It’s like you’re not just using like the same thing over and over. Each song is different, and I can learn a lot from the drums.”
Dallas has never had a lesson, Shane said. He just listens to songs and picks up the beat.
He also gets coaching from the Rockers.
Rockers guitarist and lead singer Martin Garrish, Shane said, always has something positive to say.
“He’s just kind of awestruck,” Shane said.
Tommy Hutcherson, the Rockers drummer, said after a rehearsal on Thursday that Dallas will play some songs and later he and Hutcherson will play together.
Hutcherson said that whenever Dallas and his family saw the Rockers, he would notice Dallas watching him.
“And he would always talk to me about playing drums,” Hutcherson said.
Since his Seafood Festival debut, Dallas has improved, Hutcherson said.
“It’s really incredible,” Hutcherson said. “He’s got some talent.”
For this concert, in addition to Garrish, the Ocracoke Rockers will consist of Dallas and Hutcherson on drums, Russ Reynolds on guitar, Lou Castro on bass and Marcy Brenner on percussion and background vocals.