I sat in and watched Rhum in a different role: musical instructor.
“Marcus, go ahead and get warmed up. You know I’m going to push you on this,” Rhum said to his student, Marcus Bradley, who will be featured in Saturday’s RhumFest and is also an instructor at Rhum Academy.
While Bradley taps keys to tune his voice in the background, Rhum gives me a tour of the world that revolves around playing music and learning it. We pass by an autographed piano, signed by The Original Wailers.
“I’ve never asked anyone for an autograph,” Rhum said as his fingers etched the autographed piano’s sides. “But, these guys were so genuine and so nice, just so happy to be here.”
We stop to visit at a back wall of the room that houses the harmonies of Rhum Academy students and visiting names such as Tim Easton, Brian Vander Ark and the upcoming Caravan Of Thieves. However, the wall is also illustrative of music’s inspiration. A mural painting – created by one of Rhum’s 16-year-old students – of vines holding painted versions of Rhum’s favorite guitar picks is more than décor.
“I wanted the branching of the vines because we’re people who teach other people about music,” Rhum said as his arms move in the unexpected directions of the vines. “Music inspires the expression of the heart and I think this captures that life flow; that life flow of music’s culture. Without that culture, we only have buildings and parking lots.”
No matter what wall you look at in Rhum Academy, music lives in it.
One frame hangs an image of Rhum smiling and strumming alongside an excited student. Another photo captures Rhum playing by a bonfire while his young son beams dressed in a tie-dye t-shirt.
Then, Rhum returns to his musical lesson with Bradley. And the images frozen in frames on the wall are seen in action. Rhum’s smile grows at the same rate his fingers pluck and strum a roots-y sound, cueing Bradley’s boomingly strong voice to inspire in one of the many ways music inspires.
RhumFest is Aug. 10 from 7 to 11 p.m. at Kokomo Performing Arts Pavilion. For more information, visit www.KokomoSummerSeries.com