Former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart didn't invent world music. But he was among the first to take it out of the hands of ethnomusicologists and into the clutches of pop culture. Eighteen years ago, Hart and tabla titan Zakir Hussain won the first World Music Grammy for their spellbindingly percussive 1991 collaboration Planet Drum. Well, guess what, cats and kittens? History has repeated itself, sort of, as the Global Drum Project — which again teams Hart and Hussein, along with talking drum specialist Sikiru Adepoju and conga king Giovanni Hidalgo — was announced as the winner of the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album. (Which is cool, because, otherwise, the Grammys were pretty much a wash: 13 of 20 awards went to British artists, and three statues were bequeathed to Lil Wayne. So it's nice to see the Bay get some Grammy love. After all, we built this city on rock 'n' roll.)
On the Planet Drum Web site, Hart explained the concept behind the project: “This is a deep drumming groove. We're taking the archaic rhythm worlds into outer space. Planet Drum explores rhythm and noise … it's a sound yoga of processed acoustic percussion headed straight for the trance zone that becomes a dance of ancient and modern worlds. Deep drumming is a skeleton key into these realms.” Whatever he's smoking, we want some.