BEATnDRUM is a community samba band for adults. We believe that everybody has a part to play in our band no matter what experience you have. We teach anybody that wants to learn how to play percussion with a large group of people and how to reclaim the streets in the name of a good party!

At BEATnDRUM we teach people to play many styles of Afro-Brazilian/Cuban percussion from samba and samba reggae to maracatu and ijexa, to conga habanera and beyond.

In 2018/19, we're working on new musical arrangements with melodic instrumentation and looking forward to celebrating our 15th Birthday!

We believe in educating our band members in the social culture of samba blocos and schools, as well as developing their skills as drummers and providing them with opportunities to perform.

All we ask from our band members is to come to practice, have a laugh, and with time and patience become the most awesome drumming machines on the planet!

Band practice: Thursday nights, 7-9pm at the Beat Carnival Centre

Our story

BEATnDRUM was founded in January 2004, when a series of workshops by Beat artist Damian Mills led to lively performance at the St. Patrick's day parade in Downpatrick. The original members of the band decided it was so much fun it would be criminal to stop - that was many moons ago.

We now play regularly at events throughout Northern Ireland and beyond. We also have a smaller, semi-professional performance band that can be from between five and 15 people.
If you'd like to hire BEATnDRUM for your event, email

From 2006 we were key partners in a three-year, European-funded project, Belbobru, working with performers and organisations from Italy and Belgium on the production of public spectacles in Belfast, Bologna and Brussels.

We have hosted many training events and artist residencies in Belfast, benefiting many of the samba and maracatu bands in Ireland. We've worked with artists such as:

  • Dudu Tucci (Brasil/Germany)
  • Moleque de Rua (Sao Paulo, Brasil)
  • Mestre Afonso (Olinda, Brasil)
  • Barak Schmool and Rhythms of the City (London)
  • Mestre Arlindo (Olinda, Brasil)
  • Bongar de Coco (Olinda, Brasil)
  • Dan Fox (Northumbria, Uk)
  • Marianna Pinho (London/Rio, Olinda, Brasil)
  • Jackson Pinto (London/Salvador, Brasil)
  • Jo Zanders (Bruxelles)
  • Marianna Whitehouse (London)
  • Matt Fox and Claude Deppa (London)
  • Mestre Gilmar (Olinda, Brasil)
  • Mestre Tete (Olinda, Brasil)
  • JP Courtney (Ireland)
  • Niall Gregory (Ireland)
  • Stomp (London)
  • Chris Quade (Cologne)
  • Serrinha Raiz (Rio de Janeiro)
  • Sam Alexander (London)
  • Jorge Martins (Recife)

We are a key player in the Afro-Brazilian / carnival drumming network in Ireland maintaining strong links with our friends and peers in bands the length and breadth of the island. Members of Beatndrum regularly play with other larger groups of specialist percussionists, namely:

  • Maracatu Ilha Brilhante (all-Ireland maracatu group)
  • Bloco de Dublin (all-Ireland samba bloco)
  • Maracatu Estrela do Norte  (London)
  • Eri Okan (London)

The Beat Carnival coordinated the drumming performance of the Land of Giants show, which was staged as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and was the largest outdoor arts event ever to be produced in Northern Ireland. It was also the largest event to happen in the U.K prior to the opening ceremony itself. Percussionist Damian Mills coordinated and taught 160 percussionists from 16 bands from all over Ireland.

In 2013 BEATnDRUM were involved in a collaborative project named "Urban Ballet", which joined carnivals in Bordeaux France, Santa Maria de la Feira Portugal, Grahamstown South Africa and Belfast. Working with musicians, dancers and artists from these different cities they created a huge percussion and dance performance involving over 300 performers in one choreographed street parade performance based on a mix of contemporary hip hop rythms and south african traditional work songs.  Percussionist Matt Vernon coordinated and taught over 120 percussionists from several bands around Ireland, and directed them in parade.

In 2014 we expanded on the idea of 2013's "Urban Ballet" to include a street choir of 100 individuals and a guitar orchestra of 50 people. This was performed at the annual Belfast Culture Night event.

We also celebrated 10 years of BEATnDRUM!!!!!

In 2015 our main carnival event of the year was to celebrate 21 years of BEAT CARNIVAL, we celebrated in style by inviting many of the bands with whom we have collaborated over the years, to a big party parade in Belfast.

Our main event for 2016 was another collaboration, with musicians from the Belfast guitar Orchestra and the Ulster Youth Orchestra, Beat Street Choir and BEATnDRUM this brought well over 100 musicians together to perform several covers of songs by David Bowie, the Beatles and E.L.O as well as an original composition by Colin Reid. Percussionist Matt Vernon arranged percussion for samba instruments to complement the over all pieces. 

BEATnDRUM have also collaborated with many local bands and musicians in the creation of new music for carnival as well as the re-creation of old classics in a new way. Musicians who've played with BEATnDRUM in our carnivals include:

To get involved, email band leader Matt at or fill in the form below. You can keep up-to-date with the band on Facebook at