MEET THE BAND: J. Scott Franklin (trumpet, flugelhorn, lead vocals), George Lee (acoustic bass, whistling, vocals), James Onysko (djembe, bongos, bells, conch shells), John Stebal (drum kit)
IT STARTED WITH THE SAMBA SCOUTS: Drumplay formed out of an earlier percussion group, Samba Scouts, which was active in the late '80s until end of 1991. During his Samba Scouts days, Onysko met local poet Daniel Thompson and began collaborating with him; in 1992 Thompson would have a key role in Drumplay when Onysko formed the group to fill in for the Samba Scouts, who had just disbanded and couldn't play a gig that they had booked. At the time, the group was a trio and Onysko came up with a name on the spot. "Drumplay was an extension of the Samba Scouts in that it was a percussion group but we expanded the instrumentation," he explains. "Samba Scouts used to pride ourselves on saying, 'No strings.' But Drumplay didn't adopt that motto. It started as a tribal trio and grew from that."
A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT: So many great musicians have played with us over the years," says Onysko. "Joe Tomino, who went on to play drums with Dub Trio and Matisyahu, played with us." Local sax man Ernie Krivda has performed with the band. "I've been lucky to have some great musicians play with me," Onysko says. "I'm not a great musician but I love pounding on the drums." Another one of the band's members, Benoit Moerlen, still plays music in Paris with the group Joke Shop and a revived version of Gong. He's also a member of the Frank Zappa tribute band, Peach Noise.
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: The band's new album, 2.5, will come out later this year, and it represents yet another chapter in the band's 25-year history. "I'm really proud of the album," he says. "It came out really well. The upright bass is back in the band, I love that. It's really important to me. It's key to what I'm doing. In my former role with Samba Scouts, I played the clave and kept the pace." The album features a cover of "You Don't Know What Love Is," a song originally written for an Abbott and Costello film. In addition, The Shadow Within, a new film starring Lindsay Lohan that's due out in October, will feature the band's music.
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: cdbaby.com/cd/drumplay3.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Drumplay performs at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 14, at Lakewood Public Library, and at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 29, at the Sandy Chanty in Geneva. Both shows serve as fundraisers for the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.