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Houston Press Music Awards Preview - D.R.U.M.

By Mark Towns
Published: Houston Press, Thursday, July 10, 1997

D.R.U.M. is certainly one of Houston's most unique groups. But while they draw from a diverse pool of distinctly African influences, the group notes that it's easier for them to get gigs posing as your everyday, average reggae act than to explain what they really do -- which involves creating a loosely combined and tightly played mix of sambazulu, funk, yoruba, jazz, ashanti, kongo, binghi and reggae. Lately, D.R.U.M. has begun referring to their music, vaguely enough, as "African rock." Judging by the clubs they regularly play around town -- the Blue Iguana, Instant Karma, Rudyard's -- that's not such a bad decision. They're equally at home, however, at more jazz- and blues-oriented venues.

D.R.U.M. is also at home on the festival circuit, which has taken them to New Orleans for the Jazz Festival and New York for the African Street Festival. The band's infectious tribal beats and boundless energy have been captured for posterity on two local releases, Ancient Sounds of the Future and D.R.U.M., which are available at Cactus Music and at the band's performances. What's in the band's future? Well, most immediately it's for keyboardist Michael Royster to replace Kenyha Shabazz, who's departing to pursue an Afro-Cuban project, Gemini. Then it's to continue letting Houstonians in on the little secret that African music covers a whole lot of ground, just like the continent it comes from.

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