Wander around central London and you’re sure to hear the syncopated beats and offset rhythms of drummers showcasing their talents.
Be it on professional drum kits or up-turned buckets, these often charismatic musicians are armed with a set of drumsticks and determined to put on a show.
On Bank Holiday Monday, I discovered Oded Kafri drawing in the crowds on Oxford Street, W1.
Taking a break from shuffling in and out of high street stores, a sizeable crowd of around 50 people stopped to witness Kafri’s energetic and entertaining performance.
Over the hip hop beats of Missy Elliott and 50 Cent, to traditional classical music and afro-latin beats, Kafri took control of the drum kit and wowed the audience with his frantic, offbeat and entertaining show.
From throwing his sticks into the air to singing funny little couplets, to leaving the drum kit and banging any surface he could find, he certainly had the crowd in the palm of his hand…
Afterwards, I caught up with Kafri and he told me how he was born in Tel Aviv, Israel and first picked up the drumsticks at 10 years old.
When I asked if he is self-taught, he said no, “teachers, teachers, you never stop learning and I learned from the best teachers”.
He credits his favoured drumming styles (jazz/funk/afro) to his time spent in Paris. He moved there at the age of 16 and was introduced to a new way of performing. Kafri said his style is derived from “knowing the beat” and being able to “play several style of music very sensitively”.
Kafri has been busking for only two years in London. Before that, he worked as a session musician in his native country for twenty five years and toured the globe.
“I’ve played all around the world; Africa, Japan, America, the UK… probably the only part I’m missing is India and South America.
“I picked up so much from my travels, from the different cultures and how music is played and received… it’s all influenced my style of performance.”
Kafri said he was between gigs when he decided to busk in central London, and said the “love from the audience makes me want to come back more”.
“I’m here on Bank holiday because you don’t need a permit”, says Kafri, “I’m not sure why this is in Westminster but the crowds here are fantastic.”
–Words and Video by David Woode