On Thursday September 29th, as we celebrated the first month of school, the group Nation Beat played at the Sco. They are known for mixing together sounds from northeastern Brazil and the southern United States. “They are rhythm gatherers, harvesting the fruit of 500 years of cultural crossbreeding, which is why the sounds of the northeast of Brazil and the southern United States blend together so seamlessly (www.nationbeat.com/)”. Nation Beat originally hails from Brooklyn, New York and were just returning from two world music festivals, one in Chicago and one in Iowa. They played classic country tunes tunes like Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonely I Could Cry” as well as popular, Brazilian, carnaval tunes such as “Morena Tropicana”. To the western songs they added Brazilian maracuta drumming and instruments like Pandeiro and Oboe (I’m guessing the oboe is a Brazilian thing?). To the Brazilian songs they added appalachian fiddle music.
While they were here they also taught a singing and drumming class at the Conservatory, and in the middle and at the end of the concert they invited the con jazz kids up on stage to play. The stage, filled with a mixture of new and familiar faces, made an adorable family style picture, and the music they produced sizzled. Nation Beat is known for collecting and synthesizing rhythms, and that night they managed to collect and synthesize our very own Oberlin Conservatory sounds with the rhythms and languages of their own cultures. Several times the members of Nation Beat gave the Conservatory students the opportunity to break out into a solo. The electric guitar, played by WIll Darity, a jazz guitarist, jived particularly well with the Brazilian grooves, and it really blew everyone away at the end. This music was great to dance to, and the lead singer, Liliana encouraged us to clap and even taught the audience a few Brazilian dances.
Liliana was mesmerizing on stage in her colorful, full body traditional gown, dancing and entreating us to enjoy ourselves. Her opening statement sums up nicely what Nation Beat is all about. “The United States and Brazil, making music together, to put the world a little better.”
– Clay Contee