Sections

Home New York National Sports Calendar

Haitian voudou-rock band rocks Queens

Robert A. Morse, leader of the Haitian voudou-rock band RAM, exhorts the crowd at Springfield Park in Springfield Gardens, Queens, as the band entertains there.
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:

You didn’t need to be in Haiti at the Hotel Oloffson last Thursday night to hear the voodoo-rock band RAM.

For more 25 years, every Thursday night, through thick and thin, calm and upheaval, when they’re not touring — RAM legendarily performs at the Oloffson in Port-au-Prince.

But on Thursday, July 5, RAM played the grass-filled Springfield Park, located in the middle of Springfield Gardens, Queens, practically beneath the flight path to JFK.

The nine-piece band of Haitian musicians, playing traditional and adapted rhythms and melodies, infused the atmosphere, totally engaging the crowd obviously starved for music from their homeland. Loyalists traveled from Long Island, Brooklyn and even Manhattan in addition to coming from the neighborhood and nearby Cambria Heights.

Ancient folkloric polyrhythms intertwined harmoniously with punk rock guitar riffs (an influence from its founders’ Max’s Kansas City days) and swinging Caribbean keyboard melodies combine for the experience of RAM.

This summer 2018 tour is also part of the band’s CD launch “RAM 7 August 1791”, their seventh album, but the first in over a decade — harnessing all the elements that came together and led to the country’s unprecedented founding — the African and the Creole, the rural and the urban, the Christian and the vodou, the traditional and the exploratory.

RAM is named from the initials of founder Richard A. Morse who with Lunise Morse, his wife and the band’s lead singer and dancer, performed new songs as well as leading the audience while they danced and sang to favorites.

Decked all in white and glowing, Lunise mesmerized the crowd. A few years back, their son William returned home after college and joined RAM, playing guitar.

Two of the band’s musicians play vaksins, the distinctive multiple one-tone horns typically heard in street and carnival processions. “They’re playing our music — rara,” beamed one happy attendee.

Musician and musicologist Ned Sublette, who’s been attending gigs since Morse started performing in the U.S., a good 24 years ago, was among those in the crowd. “RAM is a unique band, in Haiti and the world,” he said. “Simply unique.”

RAM has played international concerts and festivals in the U.S., France, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Brazil, and, earlier this year, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. This road trip commenced in Queens, went on to Baltimore, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania, and is scheduled to play in Massachusetts, Detroit and Jackson, Mich., before heading home.

On last week’s perfect summer evening, while Haitian music lovers filtered into the park, DJ Hard Hitting Harry warmed up the crowd spinning Haitian racine “roots” music, its amplified sounds drifting out over the streets.

Also on the program, singer and multi-instrumentalist Paul Beaubrun, son of Boukman Eksperans, and his band playing Haitian, Afro-roots, and blues, opened the evening.

The performances are part of the City Parks Foundation SummerStage series with many more scheduled in Central Park and neighborhood parks citywide throughout the summer.

Updated 4:22 pm, July 13, 2018
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Don’t miss our updates:

Reader feedback

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not CaribbeanLifeNews.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to CaribbeanLifeNews.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with your community. Subscribe to our free newsletter:

Optional: