Story and photos by Sarah Crookall
The beating of drums and energetic voices packed the small auditorium of the McLaughlin Library on Feb. 22. In celebration of Black History Month the performance group, Creole Drummatix shared African and Caribbean culture with Oshawa on Wednesday evening.
With upbeat rhythms and smiling faces, the four-man beat musician troupe commanded the focus of a full house. An all-aged audience shouted questions and comments to the performers between songs and danced to the drumming.
Touring Canada, the U.S. and the Caribbean, Creole Drummatix acts as a live soundtrack to African and Caribbean culture. Showcasing clothing, instruments and music of the different regions to all ages.
“The music tells a story,” said performer Lambfaal Scott.
The group played half a dozen traditional African and Caribbean songs. With lyrics like, “Oh God have mercy” and “Give me back my food and culture,” many of the songs are used in ceremonies. One of the songs played was the popular Trinidadian tune, “Calypso,” which is about having a good time.
Loud was the crowd response, but the drums were still louder. The large djembe drums used by the troupe are considered the warrior drums of West Africa. “They are so loud that they would scare the enemy away,” said Scott.
Sharing a strong bond through culture, the group has been performing together for 20 years. Most of the members started drumming at age 5 or 6.
“With this type of drumming you have to start at a very young age,” said Scott, about the difficult rhythms.
The group is one of many in Creole Drummatix, which is a branch of the larger performance organization called Ballet Creole. While Creole Drummatix showcases rhythm and drumming of indigenous traditions, Ballet Creole fuses together dance, drama and music.
With its unique and visual way of sharing cultural information, Black History Month is an important time for the organization. It is a great opportunity to share heritage with children and adults alike.
“I love going to the schools,” said Scott. “It’s all about the kids.”