Female Drummers To Rock PAMM for Inaugural Second Saturdays
As if the new Perez Art Museum Miami didn’t already wow us with its exquisite design — this Saturday it will bring together 15 female drummers from Miami and New York who will fill the entire museum space with a medley of indigenous and modern rhythms. The performance titled First Beat is part of PAMM’s free second Saturdays, held from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Each hour, on the hour, the women, including Miami’s own Kiran Gandhi from the pop rap group MIA and South Florida’s all-female drumming and dance ensemble Venus Rising, will take museum goers on a musical journey through jazz, rock, and the Latin and Afro-Caribbean rhythms that represent Miami. “We’re going to sonically christen the entire museum so that our beats touch every angle, every square,” said Mindy Abovitz, publisher of the all-female drumming Tom Tom Magazine, who curated First Beat and will perform on Saturday. In the process of welcoming the new museum to Miami, the group of trap set and hand drummers will illustrate a little of their own history and realities in a male-dominated field. “We have chosen specific beats that women just don’t play,” said Abovitz, a native of South Florida and Brooklyn transplant. “Women have to fight a little bit to play the drums,” she says. “What I’m hoping is that this performance takes down one of the thousands of walls.” Abovitz commissioned a similar project in January at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Upon touring PAMM, she knew that bringing together a diverse mix of female percussionists would nicely compliment the new museum digs, which she described as “alive and breathing.” “You’re never too far away from the water…. Every part of the museum — the art and architecture — is playing together,” she said. What’s unique about Saturday’s show is that the drummers will be isolated from each other but play in sync. “The museum is expansive. We’re going to be spread out to the point where people are going to have to find us,” said Abovitz, noting that the distance between will symbolize their realities in a male dominate field. “We have to find each other. This is a representation of how spread out we are.” Venus Rising’s Zeva Soroker has been breaking down gender barriers in the West African and Caribbean drumming scene since she started the group in 2003. Through use of percussion, she says that she expects to have “a conversation.” In addition to the trap set drummers set to play, Soroker and five of her percussionists will bring the West African and Caribbean flavor with the congas, jumjum, djembe and bumbuk drums, as well as the agogo bells and shakere. Fusing music, especially world beats, is Venus Risings’ specialty. “It illustrates to me the unity of music,” said Soroker, adding that finding commonality within the genres is how the women and drums will harmonize. “It’s going to be exciting to link up with the next generation of female drummers. We share a really important agenda.” Like Soroker, Abovitz started her internationally distributed Tom Tom Magazine to recognize and connect female drummers around the world. “As a teenager growing up in Miami I was into punk and the riot grrrl [movement], which meant that you should play whatever you wanted and you don’t have to be good at it,” said Abovitz, 34. “I’ve been playing ever since. And I never let that idea go, that you don’t have to be the best at playing the instruments.” As part of Second Saturday’s free family activities, visitors will be allowed to create their own percussion instruments and join in the finale jam session. First Beat will take place every hour from 1:00 to -4:00 p.m. at the Perez Art Museum Miami, 1103 Biscayne Blvd. in downtown Miami; this afternoon is free. For more information, call 305-375-3000 or visit www.pamm.org.