Episode 138 of The JamBase Podcast, a partner of the Osiris Media Network, features an interview with Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, Dead & Company and Planet Drum. JamBase’s Andy Kahn, spoke to the legendary drummer about the new Planet Drum album, In The Groove and much more.
Planet Drum is an international all-star percussion ensemble currently made up of Hart, tabla master Zakir Hussain of India, conga icon Giovanni Hidalgo of Puerto Rico and talking drum expert Sikiru Adepoju of Nigeria. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1991 and won the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Album in the World Music category.
The second Planet Drum album, 2007’s Global Drum Project, also won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album. Hart explained how the COVID-19 pandemic afforded him and the other drummers the time needed to work on what became their third Planet Drum album – In The Groove.
The interview explored the various new technologies Hart employed while recording the new album. Recent advancements allowed the musicians to record remotely but in real-time. Hart detailed his sonification process for converting data from natural sources like the ocean’s tides and from outer space and converting it into rhythmic sounds.
Hart was also asked extensively about The Beam, which is an instrument he developed and uses during “Drums/Space” segments of Grateful Dead and Dead & Company shows. The Beam is an incredible accomplishment in ingenuity and simplicity and Hart discussed how the instrument was influenced by the ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras. Hart was asked about the mechanics of playing The Beam during Dead & Co. concerts, whether he’s ever considered teaching courses on playing The Beam and how The Beam was used on In The Groove.
The interview took place on the date of what would have been Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia’s 80th birthday. Hart graciously shared a few fond memories of Jerry, including a couple of cool stories about his beloved former bandmate.