After seeing a documentary on Channel 4, UK based musicians Martin Cradick and his wife Su Hart packed a tent, tape recorder, camera, guitar and mandolin and headed off into the forests of Cameroon in Central Africa. There they spent six weeks living, hunting, gathering and playing many hours of music together with the Baka Pygmy People.
From this experience came two delightful recordings, Heart Of The Forest and Spirit Of The Forest, which led to the birth of the six piece band Baka Beyond. The Baka have initiated Su and Martin into their music and have asked that they spread their culture beyond the forest. With many return visits a strong musical friendship has developed. The band brings together musicians from different cultures and backgrounds in a seamless celebration of the Global Village.
The rhythms of the hunter-gatherer Baka people resonate with musical styles from all around the world. Baka Beyond use these rhythms to tie music from different genres together. Also carried in these rhythms and in all Baka Beyond performances is the sense of joyous celebration and inclusion that the Baka people bring to all of their music.
After 21 years of touring around the world, Baka Beyond’s live show has constantly evolved. Where possible the current show sometimes includes a multi-media element. Videos from the Cameroon rain forest are projected behind the band and, cleverly synchronised with the live music so that the Baka become part of the live show. Baka Beyond are not recreating other people’s music. They use the spirit of the Baka’s music to present their own musical heritage whether the Rhumba rhythms of Kibi’s native Congo or the Celtic melodies of Martin’s Cornish/Welsh heritage, seamlessly combined as can be heard in their latest album ‘After The Tempest’, the band’s 8th studio album, released in mid 2014. Baka Beyond’s live shows include song, dance, percussion, musical virtuosity and big smiles all round.
Baka Beyond members still regularly visit the Baka in Cameroon, returning royalties earned by their music and helping them to use the money for community development projects through the charity they set up, Global Music Exchange. Either directly to individual musicians, or for sustainable projects decided within the Baka community. A large performance space has been built as well as work done in health and education. With the forest and therefore their lifestyle under threat, it helps that the Baka’s music and culture is appreciated worldwide. Martin Cradick returns to Central Africa each year to play music, set up projects and to help the Bakas band “Baka Gbine” to tour.
Baka Beyond are looking forward to their debut Australian tour which takes in The National Folk Festival and the Fairbridge Festival, as well as other dates around the country. Tour Dates Below:
BAKA BEYOND – DEBUT AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
Thurs 2nd The Quarterdeck, Narooma, NSW $25
Fri 3-Mond 5th National Folk Festival, Canberrra ACT
Tues 7th The Lewisham Hotel firstname.lastname@example.org 8pm $25
Thurs 9th Clancy’s Fish Pub – Fremantle WA $20/$25
Frid 10-12th Fairbridge Folk Festival, WA
Sat 18th Illawarra Folk Club $25
Sun 9th The Camelot Lounge, Marrickville, NSW
Further dates tba