How far would you go to find your passion? For drummer and percussionist Scott Kettner, it turned out to be nearly 4,200 miles.
"It changed my life," Kettner said of the journey he took more than 10 years ago from New York City to Recife, Brazil, which is where he immersed himself in the art of maracatu, a centuries-old tradition of drumming and dancing.
Afro-Cuban and Brazilian rhythms had already taken hold of him while he was studying jazz at New York's New School University, but when spurred by an instructor to seek out maracatu, Kettner discovered he was going to have to cast a larger net.
"I looked for it in New York City, but no one knew about it," Kettner said during a recent phone interview. "So, I decided to move to Brazil."
It was there, and in other surrounding areas of northeastern Brazil, that he began working and playing with local musicians -- including the group Maracatu Nacao Estrela Brilhante -- honing his talent and learning theirs. By the time he returned to the United States a year or so later, he had a new band, a new sound and new friends.
Nation Beat, Kettner's Brooklyn-based band, incorporates maracatu rhythms with funk, jazz, bluegrass, country and more. A listener to the band's latest record, "Growing Stone," would find it hard to ascribe it to a particular genre.
"Growing Stone," which was released in 2011, followed "Legends of the Preacher," in 2008, which featured the Klezmatics. In 2005, Nation Beat released "Maracatuniversal," featuring Maracatu Nação Estrela Brilhante.
This year, Nation Beat has undertaken a project that affords Kettner a chance to reverse roles and thank Maracatu Nacao for their hospitality more than 10 years ago. He and his bandmates are accompanying the group on a tour, supported by several grants, through the United States, "A Tale of Two Nations," which will bring them to the Silvermine Arts Center on Saturday, Aug. 10, as part of the third annual ArtsFest. This is the first time a traditional maracatu group from Recife has performed in the United States.
Visitors to the center that day will get to see more than a dozen brightly costumed dancers and drummers of Estrela Brilhante, as well as the members of Nation Beat. After an outdoor concert at 3 p.m., the group will lead the crowd on a parade through the grounds.
"This is really a special opportunity," said Silvermine Arts Center executive director Leslee Asch. "Everybody is going to want to be at the concert."
Beyond the concert, attendees can check out photos from the annual Carnaval festival in Pernambuco, Brazil, as taken by Brooklyn artist Jason Gardner, who will be on hand to talk about his work beginning at 2 p.m.
Hands-on workshops for all ages return this year, and the galleries will be open.
"This place is so much about multiple points of entry to art, that we really wanted to make sure we had that again," Asch said.
Drummers and fashionistas may want to check out some workshops scheduled prior to the big day. A one-day drumming workshop will be offered either Thursday, Aug. 8, or Friday, Aug. 9; while a two-day costume workshop will teach participants how to make maracatu costumes. There is a fee for both workshops, but admission to the ArtsFest is free.
This year, there will be no parking in the Silvermine lot. Rather, shuttles will be provided from the Silvermine Elementary School parking lot at 157 Perry Ave. and the South Norwalk train station. Food vendors are new, too.
Asch said each year the center tries to add something new, while maintaining its mission of making the campus an accessible and welcoming place, full of opportunities to spur creativity.
For instance, Kettner may have had to travel thousands of miles to find out about maracatu, but visitors to the Silvermine Arts Center's ArtsFest will have it a bit easier.
"We are bringing them to you," Ashe said.
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Silvermine Arts Center, 1037 Silvermine Road, New Canaan. Saturday, Aug. 10, 2-5 p.m. Free. 203-966-9700, http://silvermineart.org.
Drumming -- Take your pick between a drumming workshop on Thursday, Aug. 8, or Friday, Aug. 9; 5 to 7 p.m.; $90 per person. Open to teens and adults. Participants will learn the Afro-Brazilian drumming style of Northeast Brazil.
Costumes -- For two days, Thursday, Aug. 8, to Friday, Aug. 9, create traditional maracatu costumes from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. All ages welcome. Materials provided, though a list of optional supplies are listed on the website. $150 for two days.
To reserve your spot for either workshop or for more information on what to bring, visit http://silvermineart.org or call 203-966-9700.