Even performers of world music have trouble describing it. "It's really a pretty generic overview that offers a lot of things," ventures Sean Dibble, a percussionist who plays in two local bands that fall into the broad category. "It includes, basically, music from around the world." Duh.
If the concept of world music seems vague, that's because it's meant to be. A group of British record label execs invented it eleven years ago as a catchall for a variety of international musical styles -- African pop, Brazilian samba, Trinidadian calypso -- that weren't getting enough attention on their own. As the movement gained speed and its scope continued to broaden, one ingredient remained constant: the beat.
"The common link is the international flavor and the intricacy of the rhythms and the percussion," Dibble goes on. Much of the music is closely linked to West African drumming, he notes, which had a strong influence on music in Latin America and the Caribbean. Miami, with its wealth of different cultures, makes a good breeding ground for world music.
Dibble has an array of international percussive talent scheduled for the South Florida World Music Festival, taking place Saturday on two stages at Power Studios. The eclectic lineup includes Haitian and Brazilian groups, and music from as far away as India.
Power Studios, the studio/cafe/club that owner Ross Power calls "a living, breathing work of art," is not a typical club. And the World Music Festival promises to be not a typical club experience. "Certain conventions of clubbing go out the window with this," says studio director Enzu Castellanos. Many of the groups incorporate audience participation and call-and-response sequences, for instance.
World music also showcases nontraditional instruments. Tom Korba, who was a bassist for a number of bands before joining the eight-member ensemble Out Dance, now plays the Chapman Stick -- a ten-string guitar hybrid that he calls much more versatile. "You can cover the bass notes and the guitar notes, and it's very percussive."
Many of the groups have multiple percussionists, and male and female singers. The resulting sound can best be described as "trancelike, spiritual," Korba says. Though some bands feature electric guitars and basses, don't expect much plugging-in. The Tribe, Dibble's four-piece percussion group, played for years on Lincoln Road with no electricity whatsoever.
But that doesn't mean the music won't move you. "It's very powerful," Dibble says. "I expect to have a lot of people dancing."
"It's incredibly sexual," adds Castellanos. "It's tapping an internal rhythm."
The South Florida World Music Festival, featuring Out Dance, the Baboons, Ayabonmbe, the Chirino Sisters, Angela Patua, the Tribe, and others takes place at 9:00 p.m. Saturday, August 15, at Power Studios, 3701 NE 2nd Ave. Tickets cost $6. Call 305-573-8042.