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Cyro Baptista andBeat the Donkey

Though it might sound like a game Fox News execs play when they plan programming, Beat the Donkey is the ensemble started by percussion wonder Cyro Baptista (pictured). Together, the members are known for their blend of chaos and complexity produced by traditional Brazilian instruments and unusual implements, along with their exuberant stage presence and a smattering of theatrics. After getting his start by playing in New York subway stations, Baptista rose to prominence in the worlds of pop, jazz, and jam bans, performing with Paul Simon, David Byrne, John Zorn, and Trey Anastasio. Baptista has joined the sparse pantheon of percussion stars like Mickey Hart and Buddy Rich—and “Caranguejo Estrela Brilhante” proves him worthy. The song opens with rhythmic chanting, then segues into explosive percussion; soon a thrashing guitar riff is overlaid, pushing toward a cacophony that falls abruptly back into the chanting. The song alternates between the beat and riff for its duration, building a steady crescendo before ending in an explosive cadence. The manifesto found on Baptista’s Web site—it’s pretentious, possibly, for a musician to have a manifesto, but we’ll forgive him—reads, “sometimes we roar and/sometimes we can only mumble.” Any listener of Baptista will agree that mumbling is sufficient if it is of such a quality. Hear Cyro Baptista and Beat the Donkey at 8 p.m. at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW. $20–$30. (202) 785-9727. (Peter S. Henne)