Drumhand + Beny Esguerra and New Tradition.
Drumhand wields a name derived from the group’s percussive origins. Hands, sticks and mallets pounding out old and new rhythms on weathered skins: evoking ancient forms of ‘messaging’ via global beats for dancing bodies and curious ears! The Toronto ensemble was founded by percussionists David Chan, Larry Graves (Mr. Something Something) and Steve Mancuso in 2008 in an effort to combine the circuitous rhythms of West Africa, Cuba, India and Brazil with the jazz-imbued horn work in the spirit of New Orleans parade bands.
Growing up as a 1.5 generation Canadian of Colombian origin had challenges, but Ruben "Beny" Esguerra got by with musical inspiration from his family, university training and support from a vibrant community of organizers and artists. While an essential member of a '90s funky Afro-Colombian music orchestra, Esguerra ventured across the GTA, penning his sonic narrative, A New Tradition. With Toronto's hardest working Latin music producer and performer, Luisito Orbegoso, on board, Esguerra's debut CD features Diego Marulanda, Zimbwawean guitarist Tich Maredza, turntable hero DJ Grouch and rapper Motion, among others. Diasporic and generational experiences make the call and in response are the weaving of Colombia's indigenous flute, the gaita, Afro-Cuban and Colombian percussion, Orbegoso's improv and Esguerra's spoken word. Latin music evolves, but history is not forgotten in "Death Squads," where Colombian paramilitaries get no impunity: "…protests of self-defence emerged, massive movements, repressed, erased, unheard." In "Goodbye Graffiti," Esguerra speaks to the city's crackdown on a female artist with "a cloud of paint, everyone is saying it. Tomorrow is owned by those who dare to paint it." A New Tradition has dared to paint the future using sounds that survived "Cocacolonization."