Drummers get a bad rap sometimes. The endless hours of banging and crashing in pursuit of that perfectly synchronized beat can drive just about anyone crazy. But not the residents of Brunswick, Georgia. In fact, dozens of community members actually raised money to purchase a brand new drum set for one teenager whose talent was too great to ignore.
Tory Nelson, called T.J. by most, is a self-taught drumming sensation. Unlike other musicians, it wasn’t always T.J.’s dream to be a drummer. It was his father, Tory Nelson Sr., who introduced his troubled son to the instrument. You see, T.J. has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The symptoms of ADHD contributed to problems that T.J. was having. He fell in with the wrong crowd, started acting out, and would even disappear for hours at a time without telling his family where he was going.
That’s when Tory Sr. introduced T.J. to drumming. Tory Sr. is a musician at their local church, and thought that physical and mental demands of drumming might help his son cope with his ADHD in a healthier way. So Tory Sr. gathered together some five gallon buckets and a couple of drumsticks and let T.J. cut loose on them.
Not only did T.J. find that he enjoyed drumming, he realized he was good at it. He practiced and practiced, and eventually set his makeshift drum set up on a street corner where he performed for money. T.J. decided that he would save his earnings to purchase a real drum set that he could use.
As T.J. was slowly saving his money, members of the community began to take notice of T.J.’s talent and his tenacity. Cassy Morefield, who owns a local thrift store, heard T.J.’s drumming long before she ever laid eyes on him. But she immediately recognized what a gift he had. “He’s a good kid with a lot of talent,” she shared with a local news outlet. Once she learned of T.J.’s goal to buy his own drum set, Cassy began trying to pull together one on her own from various outlets where she bought pieces for her antique displays.
But it wasn’t just Cassy who took notice. City Music owner Gary Share also was inspired by T.J.’s hard work. He wanted to help contribute as well. Still another community member like Brenda Graff, who donated a used set that had belonged to her son, and local drummer Scott Bachman, who teaches drumming lessons and restores drum kits.
After months of planning, T.J. was finally gifted with a beautiful Rogers XP, 8-inch, 5-piece drum set in the very spot where he’d earned $300 playing his bucket drums. Surrounded by friends, family, and the community members behind the grand gesture, the flabbergasted musician gave an impromptu concert. “I feel good about everybody helping me,” T.J. said, “and I want to say thank you.”