Super-mega-awesome nicely sums up the music and masterly musicianship of SK Shlomo. Yet, Shlomo doesn’t sing, nor does he play any instrument onstage: all the mad, magnificent, exhilarating music he produces, every astonishing sound he creates that engenders joy and amazement everywhere he goes, is made on the in-built drum-kit Mother Nature gave him – and gave to each of us: the mouth. Renowned, world-record-beating beatboxer Shlomo has enthralled Glastonbury with his explosive percussive acrobatics; he’s collaborated with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Rudimental, Lily Allen, Damon Albarn and Jarvis Cocker, and… he’s been on Blue Peter. And now he’s sharing his masterclass beatbox adventure with kids of all ages and accompanying adults who span the older age ranges as much as they like.
As a lad, he started out on a conventional drum-kit, but – surprise – neither neighbours nor parents were keen to let him loose on it too often after his first session. Determined to find other ways to practice, develop and innovate as many percussive rhythms, tones, textures and tempi as he could, he started exploring the potential of mouth sounds, and he hasn’t stopped since. After all, the mix ‘n’ match permutations of startling sounds are infinite and the exciting creative opportunities are boundless.
Bright, light-hearted, uplifting, Shlomo’s Beatbox Adventure For Kids has a mission to turn audience members into superhero beatboxers (beginner’s level) and make them into people who will bravely have a go at achieving something amazing even though they think they can’t. The hour-long show combines wow factor entertainment with audience participation that’s full of fun and humour, as well as informative and inspiring. Shlomo’s rapport with kids and adults alike is warm, natural and sincere, and his buoyant, easy-going interactions keep him effortlessly in control of the enjoyable proceedings.
Travelling back in time we learn how Beatboxing first emerged in hip-hopping 1980’s New York when ghetto-blaster batteries ground to a halt, leaving breakdancing rappers well and truly in the lurch in their baggy trousers. But then some bright spark came up with this mouthy alternative, et voila! Ah, but how is it done? Once expert Shlomo has taught a few basics, everyone’s soon at it, having a (yes, not entirely Covid-secure) go. From the four main sounds he selects the three that represent bass (kick) drum, hi-hat and snare and everyone experiments with a plosive “p”, a toothy “t” and a colossal “k”. That done, they try shaping out different rhythms and patterns, discovering in the process that, oh yes, we need to breathe at some point! Taking breaths without ever seeming to take breaths is an important feature of beatboxing, so there are tips on that, too, and on how to best hold the microphone to magnify the sounds magnificently.
Once random, awkward, ill-matched song titles have been tossed out by the audience, the personable Shlomo, clad in backwards baseball cap, ponytail, T-shirt, jeans and nail polish, sets to, in admirable style, to improvise a beatbox medley, in this case a challenging mix of Jingle Bells/Mr Brightside and Snoop Dogg. Then, after a good-hearted beatbox competition between onstage volunteers, come sincere exhortations urging each youngster to courageously follow their own passion, be that beatboxing or something else, and always have a go even if feeling nervous or afraid.
Schlomo’s talent and enthusiasm must surely inspire everyone, young and old, to dash home and get going in earnest on those beatbox sounds and rhythms, and who knows into what musical adventures that may lead them!
Eileen Caiger Gray
Shlomo’s Beatbox Adventure For Kids tours on to Stroud, Bristol, Newbury, Exeter, London, Leeds, Banbury, Milton Keynes, Bracknell, Salford, Oxford, Birmingham, Brighton and Cambridge.