Local concert dancing to a diverse beat Saturday

On a stage there is a group of percussionists wearing colorful dress and playing ethnic drums from around the world. Slowly the beat intensifies as dancers suddenly emerge and move to the beat. The drummers then interact with the dancers as if part of an energetic tribal ballet.

This scene will be as close as Water Street when Cyro Baptista’s Beat the Donkey takes the stage Saturday at the House of Rock, 422 Water St.

Cyro Baptista’s Beat the Donkey, Fat Maw Rooney and Trampled by Turtles
Time: 9 p.m.
Date: Saturday
Place: House of Rock, 422 Water St.
Cost: $10 in advance, $12 at the door

Junior Ryan Peterson of Fat Maw Rooney said he first saw the band at the 10,000 Lakes Festival last summer.

“It’s one of the most energetic things I’ve seen on stage,” he said.

He said his band, which will open along with Trampled by Turtles, helped bring Beat the Donkey here.

Beat the Donkey’s founder, Cyro Baptista, has recorded five Grammy-winning albums with various artists. He also worked or performed with such notable musicians as, Jay-Z, members of Phish, Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Herbie Hancock and John Zorn.

“Beat the Donkey” is a literal translation of a Brazilian phrase that means “Let’s take it up a notch,” or “Let’s go, let’s do it.” Baptista said this name is appropriate because of the way he views music.

“You need to beat the donkey for the donkey to move,” he said, “And with the movement comes transformation.”

Baptista said the origin of his idea came from carnivals he witnessed while living in his home country of Brazil. These events featured percussion groups with around 3,000 members.

“I don’t think percussion can be without dance,” he said. “And then I like theatre too, then it was like I combined the three elements.”

The band’s resulting sound cannot be classified, Baptista said.

“We are not really a rock band, we are not a world music band, we are not a jazz band,” he said. “We are something that, I don’t I know, maybe in five, six years … would fit some mold.”

Although the group’s membership has changed over the years, currently, it is made up of people from Africa, Japan, Israel and Brazil.

He said he gets his inspiration from his environment, in which he tries to build instruments out of things around him.

“I grew up in Brazil, (where) there are instruments that do the sounds of the river, or the sounds of the wind or the sounds of the birds,” he said. “And these are instruments I build up with branches of trees or seed pods. But now I live in New York … I play PCP pipes, I play pieces of a refrigerator.”

Baptista said the show will have something to offer to both the tame and the wild concertgoers alike but encourages people to dance.

“Please come,” he said, “and shake the booty.”