Growing Stone - Nation Beat

Barbes Records

Nation Beat leaves you to figure out which nation or nations get the props on this recording,. But Scott Kettner, the drummer who master-minds the project drops some pretty notable cultural clues. First, there’s that maracatu drumbeat, a signature of Recife in Northeastern Brazil along with Liliana Araujo’s powerful, decidedly Brazilian Portuguese delivery on the vocal tracks. That Cajun fiddle you hear? None other than David Greely from South Louisiana’s pioneering Mamou Playboys. And, the heartland harmonica that sings the sound of America’s breadbasket is courtesy of Mickey Raphael, Willie Nelson’s longtime harpoon man. Put it all together with some awesome frevo and surf guitar work from Sao Paulo picker, Joao Erbetta (who has also absorbed plenty of New Orleans jazz), and a Pan-American picture swims into focus. The nations in Nation Beat are the Americas, North and South, and Growing Stone is dedicated to the farmers; those who work the land on both sides of the Equator. Ketter explains, “I had an epiphany while I was living in Recife. I realized there were many similarities with the music I grew up with in the deep American south.” Therefore, the place of Nation Beat’s birth might surprise you, but not if you’ve been keeping tabs on the wealth of world musical flavors emanating from this intercultural hub. It’s Brooklyn, New York, the second most densely populated county in the US, where creative types of all backgrounds rub shoulders and trade licks. It’s one of the mothers of all ‘hoods, and that’s the other theme traveling through the tracks on Growing Stone. It’s music from the barrios; the great neighborhoods of the Americas, from Brooklyn’s bustle to the bayou to the mangrove marshes. It all hangs together reasonably well. The recording, while not ornate is genuine and equitable enough to give each of the influences a strong voice. Once the back story is fleshed out a bit, it makes total sense, and for me, this knowledge enhances the listening experience. I know I’m old skool, but some liner notes to that effect would have been appreciated, but I’m only one of a few fortunate enough to get a taste from the physical package. It’s just another way downloads are discouraging us from digging a little deeper into the fertile earth of global collaborations. That’s not Nation Beat’s fault by any means. Key tracks include the opener Puxa O Boi, Bicu De Lambu, Rafa’s Pe and Forro for Salu. Listen for them on worldbeatcanada radio and Celt In A Twist.