May 29, 2016 groovacious

The Bata Drum

Bata Drum

image courtesy of Latin Percussion

 “Hey Stephan, I forgot to mention one thing; if you’re not overwhelmed after four hours – we’re not doing our job!”

These were the words of Richard Rice, co- founder of one of the world’s most powerful music immersion retreats  called California Brazil Camp.

Boy, was he right 😉

After the first day and a half in this musical frenzy, I completely ran out of gas in the early afternoon.

At camp they have these neat little gazebos outside where a friendly staffer serves a strong hand-poured cappuccino for just two bucks.
I downed one of them – no effect.
I tried a second one and felt myself getting even more tired!

In my  entire life I have never needed 3 shots before, so I thought I’d take a little nap on one of the couches in the hangout area.

Then my good friend, my stage and writing partner Robert Kyle, discovered me hanging in the ropes – and smiled and said: “Hey Stephano- you look kinda tired!” –  well, what could I say?

Robert told me that there was a 20 piece Bata Drum Ensemble playing at the Ampitheatre (pic below) and that there were a few spots open to participate. Well, no matter how tired I was, I could not miss this opportunity!

image courtesy of

image courtesy of

So I shlepped myself over to the amphitheater, saw an open chair and the double-headed conga drum called a Bata drum lying on the floor.

As I strapped the drum to my knees, the instructor (Mark Lamson) came over and helped me find the rhythm by playing it for me on my drum.
I was amazed by the groove and the power of the sound all around me and wondered if I could possibly play the rhythms that were thundering across the stage.
It sure was difficult at first, but I found and eventually locked with the rhythm around me.

Slowly, I could feel my soul breathing and merging with everyone on stage.
The wonderful weather.
The 2000 year old redwood trees surrounding us.
The fresh air of Northern California.

All of a sudden I heard Mark call out;  “that’s it guys – come back tomorrow and we’ll continue!”  To my complete surprise I had played this rhythm for close to 50 minutes without noticing how time passed.

I had played this rhythm for almost 50 minutes without noticing how much time had passed

As I laid the bata drum back on the floor of the amphitheater stage, I felt a sensation that I’ve never felt before;

Some kind of energy slipped into my my feet, quickly rose up through my body, all the way through my chest, through my head – wooshhh – and in seconds, I was completely restored to full awakeness!!!

I described that sensation to my friends at camp who confirmed to me that the African Bata rhythms are indeed Life Affirming Rhythms.

I never knew that music could have this much restorative power –  but I knew one thing for sure; whatever music performance I will do from now on, I will do my best to make this energy available for those who come and listen.

Here’s a little excerpt of what’s coming to a stage near you:

Stephan Oberhoff