Teen drummer says band's Rock the Boat gig 'one of the coolest things' he's ever done

·1 min read
Alyssa Harper from Hired Guns is shown and the members of Canorous Paradise. From left: Wesley McKone, Levi Dawson, Joel MacEwen and Hunter Sparkes (Submitted by Stephanie Dawson - image credit)
Alyssa Harper from Hired Guns is shown and the members of Canorous Paradise. From left: Wesley McKone, Levi Dawson, Joel MacEwen and Hunter Sparkes (Submitted by Stephanie Dawson - image credit)

A 13-year-old drummer took to the stage this weekend to rock his heart out for Islanders at the Rock the Boat Music Festival.

Levi Dawson and fellow members of the high-school band Canorous Paradise got the chance to play in Tyne Valley, P.E.I., on Saturday alongside some pretty established Canadian rock bands. Those included headliner Our Lady Peace.

Dawson said he's been playing the drums since he was four when his parents got him an Elmo drum set for Christmas. He said he never imagined getting to this point as a drummer because of some of the challenges he's had to face.

"I have a disability called arthrogryposis and it affects my arms and my legs," he said.

The rare disorder causes joints to contract. For Dawson, it has meant no muscle on his biceps and very limited movement in his arm and legs.

"They can't bend as much," he said.

Submitted by Stephanie Dawson
Submitted by Stephanie Dawson

But Dawson said that's never stopped him from chasing his dreams. He said arthrogryposis hasn't slowed him down as a drummer and he's adapted by holding the sticks differently.

"I never really thought that I would make it this big in drumming," he said. "[It's] probably one of the coolest things I have ever been able to do. It's … a crazy experience."

At the festival, Dawson was given a snare drum signed by all the bands there, which he said he will probably hang on his wall. He said his band is now "totally open to any gig."

To those who think they can't do something because of a disability, Dawson has advice.

"Do whatever you want to do and adapt to it," he said.