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Lining up the Drums...

What began as a casual invitation by a music festival in Germany is now a world drumming phenomenon, ten years running.

Drums United brings together instruments and percussion from South America, Africa, Asia and Europe. The eight drummers — with their kaleidoscope of styles — is kept on beat by Lucas van Merwijk.

"It doesn't matter where you're from, everybody feels the sound of the drums and the rhythms," says van Merwijk in a backstage interview. "It's a very basic, natural thing."

Starting out as a pop and punk drummer — hair dyed black and growing up with the Sex Pistols — van Merwijk then entered the Conservatory of Amsterdam, began learning about jazz, and started playing Latin and Cuban music.

"Dutch culture doesn't have so much drumming, but within the Netherlands there are many other cultures that you can see and hear," says van Merwijk.

This cross-cultural immersion has resulted in van Merwijk creating one of the most unique music ensembles of all time, each pitching in their experiences and sounds into a complete stage extravaganza.

"Everybody's so creative and everybody has so many ideas, there has never been the problem that we run out of inspiration," says van Merwijk.

And the audiences love it. Drums United have toured the world, performing at kids presentations like the Calgary International Children's Festival — where van Merwijk explains the drum types and techniques to the kids — to full-length evening shows. So what differences does van Merwijk see from audience to audience around the globe?

"Funny enough, you could say the more north you go, people are more reserved in letting go," says van Merwijk with a laugh. "And the more south you go — countries with rhythmical backgrounds like Latin America or African countries or Asian countries or Eastern Europe — they connect quicker to us."

Let's get on our feet and prove them wrong, Calgary.

 05/25/12 >> go there
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