Percussion Ensemble Primal Rhythm Releases Live CD at Root Cafe

Sat 3/23 @ 6 PM

Sue Balaschak has been a sort of Jenny Appleseed of rhythm in Cleveland for three decades. Through drumming in bands, organizing drum circles, giving workshops, and teaching, she’s spread her percussion seeds all over the place.

Her current project is the all-woman percussion group Primal Rhythm, which also includes Michelle Clark, Dawn Fritz, and Corie Kaminski, along with Lin Sanders on vocals. Prior to the formation of Primal Rhythm, Balaschak and Sanders played together as Burning Sage, a group that’s still ongoing.

Originally, Primal Rhythm was a name Balaschak used for a personal side project.

“I started it because people were hiring me to teach them drums,” she says. “I thought it would be cool to create a drum workshop CD. I think the first one I did was in 2005. It simulates being in a drum circle. It sold like crazy. It was used in a documentary called Return of the Cuyahoga that played at the Sundance Festival. So I did a second disc. It did as well as the first disc. I said, I’m think I’m onto something.”

So last year, she decided to gather up some “kickass chick drummers” and make Primal Rhythm a real band. She brought Lin in to provide some chants on top of the drums. The vibes, she says, were so good that what had been a side project became her main thing.

Primal Rhythm 3 presents the full ensemble doing what it does best: performing live. Recorded in November 2012, the show, Balaschak says, “was an intense mixture of kirtan, chants and pounding tribal drums.”

“It has such good energy,” she says of the group. “It’s tight, it’s precision, it’s intelligent ensemble work. It’s not everyone playing the same thing, like at a drum circle. It has a real tribal feel and it’s fun.”

But Balascak says Primal Rhythm is about more than just drumming.

“When we drum, we connect our mind, body, and spirit to all living things. [Primal Rhythm] creates cool vibes and pounding tribal rhythms for your listening, dancing and trancing pleasure.”

Primal Rhythm will celebrate the release of Primal Rhythm 3 in an apt environment: Lakewood’s vegan/vegetarian coffee shop/restaurant Root Café. Like Primal Rhythm with its percussion, the café has wider goals than just serving food and coffee. According to its website, “The Root was manifested from the desire to create a familiarity among all people. A common foundation for diversity to exist peacefully is the root of our community. … Music is the breath of the human soul. At the Root cafe we want to nourish our souls as well as our bodies.”

You can nourish all planes of your existence at Primal Rhythm’s CD release show. Burning Sage will play a short acoustic set, and they’ll have a new CD available that evening too. The group will play from 6 to 9:30 pm. Don’t be too surprised if you’re encourage to put down that cup of fresh brewed coffee or tea and organic vegan muffin to grab an instrument and participate.

“I’m going to take extra hand percussion and get people to come on stage,” Balaschak promises. “I really enjoy seeing how people love the spirit of the drum and using the drum as a tool for healing and using the drum as a tool for meditating. I totally encourage people to come up and play. It’s sharing the spirit of the drum and how you can enlighten yourself with drumming.”

The CD release show is free.


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