Nation Beat, the brainchild of artistic director and founder Scott Kettner, is front woman Fabiana Masili, raucous guitarist Mark Marshall, fluid bassist Zê Grey, and Aaron Shafer-Haiss & Fernanco Saci - two pulse-pounding maracatu drummers. The group celebrates the marriage between folkloric Brazilian maracatu and traditional New Orleans roots rhythms by gathering 500 years of cultural crossbreeding for its explosive live shows.
Described as "dangerously funky" by The Village Voice, "addictive" by Time Out Chicago, and "exuberant and inquisitive" by The Boston Globe, Nation Beat plays the best kind of fusion in the world: the kind that doesn't try to fuse anything. An American/Brazilian collective, Nation Beat belongs to both sides of the equator. You can catch them on the festival circuit in Brazil and in the USA and, on either side, fans of roots music recognize the band as one of their own. As exemplified by its third and most personal album, Growing Stone (2011), Nation Beat's mix of Brazilian and American music is no longer a concept but rather a way of life. Scott Kettner explains: "When I sit down and write a song I’m not thinking about how I can put this rhythm on top of that song and mix it with these chords. I sit down and write – and Brazil and the USA come out naturally because that's who I am." When it comes to their roots appeal, there is probably no better endorsement than an enthusiastic Willie Nelson calling himself "overwhelmed" upon hearing Nation Beat for the first time. So overwhelmed in fact, that he invited the band to perform with him at Farm Aid – about as literal a celebration of American roots as it gets!