Preview-Veteran Drummer Kenny Sara: New Orleans Music is Like Eating Gumbo

Veteran drummer Kenny Sara's concert will bring the music of New Orleans to Santa Monica College (SMC) on Friday, May 10 at the Performing Arts Center (PAC). When Sara began talking about musical genres, and how they apply to New Orleans musical culture, he used this analogy to describe it: “New Orleans … It is kind of like eating gumbo. You got so many ingredients in it ... You do not want to pick and say ‘I will just eat the shrimp, or I will eat the crab. You eat everything," explained Sara.

Sara is an accomplished touring drummer and a current Los Angeles resident with Louisiana roots. He took up drums at a young age while growing up in New Orleans, and continues to preserve the music, and culture he learned there. Some of his many touring credits include performances with musicians like Herbie Hancock, Bo Diddley, and Pharoah Sanders. 


“The music we are going to present [at SMC] is going to be from an educational standpoint. What is New Orleans music? Why is New Orleans music so important to the culture in the history of the United States of America … the history of the slaves," says Sara.

Laws in New Orleans use to revolve around slavery and the African American musical art forms that prevailed. North American colonies, at times, allowed slaves to play drums. Congo Square, in New Orleans, was the hub for social gatherings and drum ceremonies for enslaved African Americans. “ … that is what the Congo Square is all about. Because that was the place where the slaves could migrate in … and they would do the African traditional dances … and they would have the drum … That is why New Orleans has such a unique culture because they have had this traditional African Caribbean roots from the inception of becoming America,” says Sara.

However, some colonies did ban slaves from playing drums altogether. Due to the rising fear of rebellion against their oppressors. However, New Orleans, being colonized by the French and Spanish before the United States, had laws and culture distinct from the rest of the South. These laws encouraged Louisiana’s own unique musical culture.

Sara’s music is posted online at where people can experience his warm musical contributions. Tunes like “Tribute To New Orleans,” by Kenny Sara & The Sounds Of New Orleans, is available for anyone yearning the sound of New Orleans. 

His performance at SMC's Performing Arts Center will take place on May 10 at 7 p.m. and cost will be $10 per ticket.