Mark Jacopec. They call him "Barkman." It’s an odd name for a drummer, indeed. But Mark Jacopec is no ordinary drummer — there are no Beatles or Rolling Stone tunes in his repertoire, and certainly no songs from ’Nsync or the Backstreet Boys.
Mark Jacopec's tunes hail from a different time and place. A distant one. One primal, primitive and sensual with origins in Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa and native America. And tunes rather ironically considered "New Age" today.
Mark "Barkman" Jacopec is a drum circle "facilitator" or leader. A carpenter by trade, Jacopec lives in West Cape May and travels nationally sharing rhythmical and musical experiences. His primary clients are corporations like Sony, Microsoft and Netscape — companies who use drumming circles for team-building and stress reduction.
Traditionally, a drum circle is a fully-participating group of people — from the very young to the elderly — sharing a common language through drums. According to Jacopec and other facilitators, the experience culminates quickly into a sense of harmony, camaraderie, and an immediate feeling of wellness.
"I starting working drum circles in Cape May and vicinity around 12 years ago," Jacopec told CapeMay.com. "I had never been to a drum circle nor did I really even know there was such a thing. I just started doing it. It came pretty natural."
It was via the Internet that Jacopec found hundreds of others like himself. It was on the Internet that he acquired the nickname "Barkman" and it was via computer that Jacopec met one Arthur Hull, considered the father of the modern-day drum circle and a nationally-recognized facilitator, instrument maker and "rhythmical evangelist."
Mark Jacopec dreams of a West Cape May community drum circle — an event for everyone in the community. "I love the West Cape May community," Jacopec said. "It’s the perfect municipality for a village drum circle."
Four years ago he began his own personal drum circle "weekend" in his Fourth Avenue backyard. He sent invitations via the Internet and was astounded when drummers came from as far away as Pittsburgh, California and even Brazil.
"The next year even more came," laughed Jacopec. "Lots of talented people made their way here to what is now known as ‘the Bash or Barkbash.’ And last year the event was even bigger with drummers from Africa and Europe and South America."
The nexr mid-June bash — where drummers and their families are invited to pitch a tent in the Barkman’s backyard or find lodging in one of Cape May’s historic bed and breakfast inns — includes a tour of the town, nature trails and the Cape May Lighthouse and three days of "sharing, dancing, laughing, eating" and of course — drumming.