Arts and Entertainment

A Man and His Marimba at the Global Bean

The man and his marimba — Sam Stewart. - Courtesy Photo/Sam Stewart
The man and his marimba — Sam Stewart.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo/Sam Stewart

Classically trained, contemporary flavored marimba at the Bean Friday.

Classical marimba is a bit obscure.

It’s absolutely a 20th century instrument, local percussionist Sam Stewart says, with a good deal of atonal or sporadic aspects that might make it a touch inaccessible for the 21st century listener. Which is part of the reason why the local contemporary marimbist transcribes a few Beatles tunes into his live show. He plays the Global Bean tonight.

Tunes like “Blackbird” and “Yesterday” thrown in with transcriptions of the Matteo Carcassi Etudes for classical guitar and John Schofield’s “Tomorrowland” — all on marimba.

Born and raised in Port Orchard, Stewart has studied percussion classically for the past seven years, garnering a bachelors in percussion performance and a master’s in jazz studies. He starting learning drums from his dad at age 8, he said.

But it wasn’t until the pursuit of his bachelor’s degree that he picked up on the marimba when he was required to play it as part of his audition.

“I’d always identified with the drumset and the snare drum and things like that,” Stewart said. But when he found the marimba he fell in love. “There’s something about that instrument,” he said. “It just elevates the art form of percussion.”

On marimba, Stewart notes, with the opportunity for harmony and dissonance in addition to tempo and rhythm, he can tap into a whole range of emotions that simply aren’t possible on any membrane drum.

Not to mention the ability to tap into Beatles tunes.

When the marimba was first introduced into American music, it was something of a novelty instrument, Stewart noted, “maybe a little ragtime here or there, but it wasn’t a super legit instrument to play serious art on,” Stewart noted.

“Not many people even know what a marimba is,” he added.

And while it still may be a fairly obscure instrument that you wouldn’t expect someone to be playing serious art on, Stewart is breaking the stereotype.

SAM STEWART plays original, classical, jazz marimba at 8 p.m. Friday at the Global Bean, 2021 NW Myhre Road in Silverdale. All ages, cup of coffee for the cover.

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