Master drummers bring rhythm to festival

Published: 24 Oct 2019

When Tuza Afutu started traditional African drumming, he had nothing but tin lids and jerry-cans to get people moving.

“Because we were a poor family in Ghana, there was no way we had enough money to buy a drum,” Mr Afutu said.

That was more than three decades ago, and now the creative director of African Beat has a crew of 40 performers playing in schools, festivals and events across the world.

He’s bringing an elite group of those performers, The Salaka Ensemble, to Mackay for Global Grooves 2019.

Held on Saturday, October 26, at Meadowlands Amphitheatre in the Mackay Regional Botanic Gardens, the region’s largest multicultural event lets locals travel the world in a single day.

Running from 3pm to 8pm, the festival will feature an amazing array of 15 performers, bands and dance groups.

On show will be an amazing range of music and traditional dances and costumes from local and international performers.

Cr Justin Englert said the Salaka Ensemble were the perfect feature act for Global Grooves.

“They come direct from Ghana and will deliver an uplifting live show that blends vibrant rhythms, amazing vocal harmonies, stunning costumes, exotic percussion grooves and almost superhuman dance moves,” Cr Englert said.

“They are aerobatic, authentic and absolute masters at energizing the crowd,” he said.

Mr Afutu said a strong, simple, catchy rhythm was the secret to getting the crowd involved.

“Rhythm is the language to communicate with anyone from anywhere in the world,” he said.

“Mackay crowds should get their dancing shoes ready, because we plan on getting everyone up and grooving.

“We will teach some simple dance moves that even the most uncoordinated dancers will be able to master, and I guarantee the rhythm will go through the crowd.”

Cr Englert said it wasn’t just the entertainment that made Global Grooves so popular.

“There’s a workshop tepee with activities to enthral children and adults – you can learn to drum or create a cultural mask or artwork,” he said.

“And the food is amazing – where else can you experience authentic food from so many different nations, all in the one place?

“There will be more than a dozen food vendors with delicacies from across the world.  From Italian and Maltese to Filipino, Pacific Islands, Dutch, Thai and Indian – there will be plenty on offer to tantalise your tastebuds.”

Global Grooves is an initiative of Mackay Regional Council and the MECC and is proudly supported by the Queensland Government and ABC Tropical North.

More about the Salaka Ensemble

Master Drummer, Tuza, formed the Salaka Ensemble in the mid-1990s when the members were in their teens. Each day after school the group would rehearse, learning rhythms and music of Ghana with the younger generations to preserve the nation’s musical heritage.

Salaka quickly grew into a professional and exciting display of culture, performing at festivals and special events including for the national president and at Ghana’s 50th Anniversary of Independence Celebrations at Black Star Square in the capital Accra.

The group has won numerous awards and represented their tribe (the GA people) at various national drum competitions.

They perform with an array of traditional instruments including talking drums, djembe, kpanlogo, box drums, bells and shakers.