“One Heart, One Beat” was the mantra for the highly energetic, powerful and empowering evening of music, dance, song and poetry of the “Beat the Drum — East Los Meets West Los Second Annual Drum Festival.”
The event took place under the clear and cool sky at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood on Sunday July 15.
The family friendly event, which celebrates the universality of the drumbeat as a rhythmic connection of our human heartbeat, fused the traditional and contemporary, and began with performances, community displays, and art demonstrations in the theatre plaza where people gathered to meet up and enjoy picnics.
The audience entered the amphitheater to the world music of DJ Reyes Rodriguez and as the sun began to set, a duo of shamanistic Aztec Huehuetl drummers (see image, left) initiated proceedings.
Def Poetry Jam Poet Mayda Del Valle began with a poem and emceed, introducing each group and engaging the audience throughout the evening, and recited an extended and powerful rap during her performance as a member of Atabey.
The Capoeira Collective (see image, right) shared their practice of Brazilian martial art that combines dance and music. The fluidity and choreography of the rolls and acrobatic attacks and defensive movements play out in a game between the Capoeiristas.
The seven women and four men of Atabey performed the “call and response” interchange between the dancers and drummers of the Bomba music tradition.
This tradition was brought to Puerto Rico from Africa by the slaves who worked in sugar cane plantations and represents a mixture of religious, cultural, and poverty dynamics within struggles of life and love.
East LA Taiko (see image, right) raised the heat with its fusion of Latin, Afro-Cuban, Ska, Punk Japanese and stand-out performances by Fredo Ortiz, best known for touring with the Beastie Boys, Taiko drummer Maceo Hernandez, known as the “Demon Drummer of East LA”, Lysa Flores, former Alice Bag lead guitarist and El Vez member, and the amazingly energetic and powerful taiko drummer named Taylor.
Concluding the event was CAVA (see image, left) led by Claudia Gonzalez-Tenorio with her sultry strong-willed feminine energy tempered with maternal instincts, as brought out with her duets with her young daughter who played taiko and harmonized vocally.
CAVA seemlessly blended traditional Afro-Cuban Son, Cumbia, ska, salsa and funk and featured Walter Miranda on keyboards and bassand Adam Topol on a hybrid timbales/rock kit.
Beat the Drum was organized by Tricia Ward, Artistic Director who is Founder of ARTScorpsLA/ACLA (Art, Community, Land, Activism!), which, was developed n response to the 1992 LA riots, is a community-based public art project and land collective built on the belief that every person is a freely creative individual deserving a safe, healthy community in which to express themselves.
Photos by Michael Baroff