Technology Gives Drummer New Lease on Life

Disabled drummer gets the beat back in time for Drum Fest
September 19, 2014 8:00 am  •  ALLY KARSYN

Rolling onto the stage, the drummer losing the use of his legs heard a beautiful sound: the bass drum.

At 39, Risty Bryce’s body is…stealing his ability to walk, …his power to play.

For years, drumming…was a comforting constant. It held hopes and dashed dreams. It defined him and escaped him.

“What I heard in my head wasn’t happening. Just looking at my drums made me angry. I can hear it. I can feel it. I just can’t get my legs to work.”

From a wheelchair, he could hit the snare, cymbals and tom-toms but not the bass drum….

Bryce, of Onawa, Iowa, rediscovered the rhythm he lost…through an electronic device developed in collaboration with Matt VanMeter, [a] founder of Drum Fest Sux Inc…..

Drum Sparx emits one of 126 sounds when noise is made into a microphone.

“If you can say it, you can play it,” VanMeter said.

“Music is healing,” Bryce said. “Just the thought of getting back on stage gave me the drive to find someone to help.”


Bryce…was diagnosed with idiopathic neuropathy, unexplained nerve pain. The disease presented symptoms similar to multiple sclerosis. [H]is mother suffered from it and his brother does, too.

The festival founder offered his technical expertise, free of charge. He couldn’t stand idly by and let a fellow drummer throw in his sticks.

Their shared love…resulted in a yearlong project developing a product/business together. Now, Bryce can bypass his legs with Drum Sparx.

Full Story

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