Seen on July 7, 2015 @ National Arts Festival, Grahamstown
“This is Baterimba and this is Columbia,” announces Carlos Fernando Balanta, the one man orchestra that plays bass with the right hand and marimba or djembe with the left while both feet are kicking the hihat and bass drums at the same time, smiling all the way. Oh yes and the one man percussionist extraordinaire even manages to sing and make the audience sing and dance along. In front and besides him are electric percussion, indigenous instrument, balloons and a bass guitar to produce a joyful ambience on Latin grooves of all speeds. He even throws some Spanish rap in the mix and the hearty man is immediately popular. “Baterimba is a personality” he says in his own words.
When the crowd is too quiet, he sets the party mood and even succeeds in getting everybody to the Matrix move to include in one of the dance moves he wants the audience to do. “No sit down.” He definitely gets akick from the audience singing, clapping, dancing and making the funniest moves. Then comes the surprise at the party. He leaves his instruments fora moment and blows up a huge balloon, puts it between his knees, gets brushes out and drums a song until the balloon bursts. Another one follows with a prayer that the explosion of balloons like these might be the only explosions to be heard in the world.
Whether in front of or behind his instruments Baterimba always seems to be dancing. He keeps surprising when he continues using his left hand and feet, but starts playing the flute with his right. Baterimba is always in for an unexpected joke. Doing a instrumental of Michael Jackson he places himself for ever in the line of master entertainers, disappearing from stage with a moonwalk only to come back for a long encore that gets 10 students dancing on stage, a tango demonstration by a couple who’s dancing shoes got on until one third of the audience is singing and dancing along on stage and the percussion is done by 4 volunteers from the crowd that has been in for a great party.