Kenny Mercer grew up in Wilton and discovered his love of drumming and percussion as a young boy, honing his talent and pursuing his passion in Wilton Schools’ music programs as well as privately. Now grown up, and following a number of years as a touring musician and recording artist, he has returned home to Wilton with his own family, and he created a children’s drum circle/percussion education class called Drum Jam.

Mercer is organizing a live music event on Saturday, Sept. 3 called “Jam Fest,” from 12-4 p.m. at the Wilton Congregational Church, which will feature not only performances and live music, but free food, open drum circles, live painting, games for the kids, and more. The musicians performing include Canyon, Audrey Campbell, Joni Wallace + Friends, as well as Mercer with Justin Flores.

The event will be very hands-on for kids. “I’m going to have drums set up for them to free play, both hand drums and a drum set. We’re going to have a piñata to hit with drumsticks as opposed to a bat, we’ll grill hot dogs and hamburgers, and listen to some great musicians,” Mercer says, adding that there may even be a recital of former students jamming in a drum circle.

Children 10-and-under are free, while adults and those older than $10 are asked to make a minimum donation of $12.

Mercer, whose own 7-year-old son is an aspiring drummer also, started teaching his Drum Jam class last year in September, at the Wilton Congregational Church, where he works as the church’s sexton. To grow his drum class program, he’s moving classes across the street to Old Town Hall. The Jam Fest event will help him cover the expenses of renting Old Town Hall and adding to his collection of drums and percussion instruments that he uses when he teaches.

“The class was an idea that I had because I love playing the drums, I’ve been playing the drums since I was 12. I was in several bands growing up and I’ve toured the country. When I got my job with the Wilton Congregational Church, I wanted to keep on doing something related to music. Drum Jam was a way to teach children and a unique idea, because I don’t know of any other drum circle classes exist around here,” Mercer says.

The classes are a fun program for kids aged 7-10 and offer many benefits.

“It’s a different, multi-cultural learning experience. I teach a lot of the history of the drums we use and a little percussion theory, as well as the basics of rhythm, syncopation, and how to keep time. There’s also a basic introduction to the drum set as well as the hand drums,” Mercer explains.

Clearly as a dad he also has thought carefully about how to set it up.

“It’s a great way for kids, The classes are at 4 p.m., right after school, so it’s a great way for them to get a lot of their built up energy out, beating on drums and making a lot of noise. For me personally, it’s gratifying because I love the drums and I love music, and to see these kids come back the next week and they remember what I’ve taught them, it’s a great rewarding feeling.”

He also brings them a wealth of musical performance experience. While the majority of his years spent on tour found him playing hip hop, Mercer has also performed with a variety of artists and bands, playing everything from blues to hardcore rock to jazz.

Mercer is currently enrolling for the fall session of Drum Jam. Classes are held 4-4:45 p.m. on Tuesdays, beginning on Sept. 13; he may possibly add a Wednesday class if enough people are interested.

For more information, contact Mercer by email or by calling 203.943.8197.