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The sky really is the limit for this event.

Flushing Town Hall will host a full moon drumming workshop on Wednesday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25, and free percussion instruments will be provided.

The fun will take place outside in the venue’s garden and under the light of the fall equinox’s harvest moon. First up is a workshop led by Grammy-nominated Juan Gutiérrez, a 1996 NEA National Heritage Fellow who founded Los Pleneros de la 21, a nonprofit community group and music ensemble that promotes Puerto Rican art.

Gutiérrez, who grew up in San Juan, will teach the basics of Bomba and Plena music. Then after attendees feel comfortable with these genres, the entire group will get together and jam.

Considered a mix of African, Spanish and Taino cultures, Bomba is the generic name for a few rhythms that can be described as “community-connections” between drummers, dancers, and singers. Its origins are in Puerto Rico’s slave plantations in the 17th and 18th centuries. The percussion instruments are called “barriles” as they were originally empty rum barrels. The players hit them with cuás (sticks) and keep time with maracas. The dancers provide the gestures, and the drummers respond with appropriate beats.

Plena’s roots are in the southern port city Ponce in the early 20th century. The style is based on interlocking rhythms created by three or more “panderetas” (round-frame drums, like tambourines without the jingles). These sounds are accompanied by guiros, maracas, accordions, and 10-string cuatro guitars. The vocalists often sing about current and/or local events, alternating group refrains with solo quatrains.

Images: Flushing Town Hall


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