University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

NEWS RELEASE

News Bureau . Schofield Hall 201 . Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900

Bakra Bata Steel Drum Band
To Open UW-Eau Claire Artists Series


 MAILED:  Aug. 31, 2004

EAU CLAIRE — The percussive sounds of Brazil, Africa, Cuba and Haiti will open the Artists Series season Tuesday, Sept. 14, when Bakra Bata Steel Drum Band performs at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. The eclectic, colorful and energetic steel drum and dance ensemble will begin its show at 7:30 p.m. in Zorn Arena.

The six-member band began as street performers in 1984 in front of what was then the country's only Starbucks in downtown Seattle. Today, Bakra Bata's performance history includes New York's Lincoln Center, Milwaukee's Summerfest, the Art Festival of Atlanta, the Houston International Festival and events throughout Canada and Brazil.

"The band has the good sense to not merely be an American clone of the Trinidadian sound," wrote the Sound Choice Music Review, stating the group has "enough energy here to drive the rain clouds away from Seattle."

"Their music is a participatory celebration of African-American culture in sight, sound and movement," wrote The Rocket Music Magazine. "They have an audience rapport that most bands only give lip-service to."

The performance features a variety of percussion instruments including the Brazilian berimbau, Nigerian gan gan (or talking drum) and the distinctive sound of the Caribbean pan (steel drum), complemented by colorful costumes, masks and dance.

"What we're doing," said Bakra Bata's founder Michael Shantz, "is integrating several art forms to provide a sound-track that expresses what's going on all around us." An ethnically diverse group representing the melting pot in American culture, Bakra Bata sidesteps race, gender and special interests, epitomizing the synthesis of cultures that is ongoing throughout the world. The group incorporates a variety of themes about greater moral issues through symbolism in skits featuring masks, costumes and pantomime to create a narrative story line without any dialogue.

Celebrating the idea of a global community, the artistry and exuberance of Bakra Bata, together with its exacting professionalism, promises a gala opening for the Artists Series. The performance is cosponsored by the National Youth Sports Program.

Admission is $15 for the public, $13 for those 62 and older and UW System or Chippewa Valley Technical College faculty and staff, and $5 for those 17 and younger and UW System or CVTC students. Reserved seats are available at the Service Center counter in the east lobby of Davies Center. The Service Center is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Patrons may also charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call (715) 836-3727 — or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free (800) 949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders. General admission tickets will be sold at the door.

The Artists Series is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin. Wisconsin Public Radio and Community Television have contributed generous promotional support. Park Inn and Suites Eau Claire (715-838-9989) at 3340 Mondovi Road is the exclusive accommodations partner for the Artists Series.

Funded by the students of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the Artists Series is administered by the Activities and Programs office.

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JS/NW

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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741
newsbur@uwec.edu

Updated: August 30, 2004