By Natalya Jones
By County Grind
By Liz Tracy
By Chris Joseph
By Liz Tracy
By Matt Preira
By Jesse Scheckner
By Michael E. Miller
Things are moving fast, moving differently; there's different sounds and different feelings -- everything is changing. Music should change. Or die. That was the dream, and RAMU is the realization of that. Between these master percussionists and RAMU, we have every continent in the percussive zone represented. We have a stage full of instruments -- all we have to do is fall either way, and we'll make a sound! It's quite an array. I like to think of us as a Delta Force.
NT:Do the differing cultural musical conventions in Bembé Orisha clash?
MH:You have to pick your people well. Not all cultures mix. But the people in this band are able to give it up and not stay strict in their tradition. These people are fusion musicians; they want to come together to collaborate. Some cultures are not moveable. In this particular instance, all of these players are young; they're not ancients. They're able to move in and out of the shadows, as it were, and be able to converse. You just have to be true to the music, and the music will guide you and take you there. I see no obstacles -- all I see are assets. The only thing is you have to render the music with passion and spirit and pick the players and go out and play as hard as you can, with as much passion as you can. You're creating it on a nightly basis. These aren't cookie-cutter songs; there's much room for improvisation. So it's moment music. I never like to make my music crystallize before the moment. If you don't leave any room for magic, magic won't come. That's what I'm after, really, is the transformational moment: that magical moment of creation. That's what you want. You don't want re-creation. Re-creation is a lesser form, and it's not really for me. If you want to go out and play the record, that's one thing. That's not my idea. That's sort of a wasted life for me. I'm an improvisationalist, and I'd like to stay in the moment. That's what's real important to me.
NT:Will Deadheads be able to hear familiar themes?
MH:They might. We were experimental in nature, and we were a combination of many different cultures' music. We were spread all over the board. The Grateful Dead was a world-music band in some respects, but it worked its magic with Western instruments mostly. But there are some similarities. We were into the improvisational moment.
NT:Many people are still searching for a surrogate Dead.
MH:That's fine! Find it -- if you must. And you'll find it in many different places; you'll find pieces of it here and there. You'll be able to find pieces of it in other music. Go find it. It'll never be anything like the Grateful Dead.