Straight Up Tribal
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Straight Up Tribal

Baltimore, Maryland, United States | SELF

Baltimore, Maryland, United States | SELF
Band World Funk




"The Beat of a Different Drum"

When Steven McAlpine, assistant director of interdisciplinary studies, and Gregory Schroeder ’09 met for academic advising, neither one knew they’d soon be playing drums every Friday outside the University Center (UC) during free hour – with more than 10 other drummers and dancers.

“I met with Steve as a new interdisciplinary studies major,” Schroeder said. “We would talk about music a lot and the fact that we both liked to play the drums. We decided we should play outdoors sometime, and for a while it was just him and I playing in front of the UC or in the back of The Commons.”

That first outdoor show was nearly two years ago, and the drum circle (now called “Straight Up Tribal”) has around 10-15 members who regularly play drums and other instruments, sing and dance. Most members say that fall 2008 was the “tipping point” in terms of size.

“This is the first time that we have really started to grow and connect with other UMBC students,” said Trey Kulp ‘09, a regular hand drummer. “The drum circle now has a mini festival atmosphere, especially with the hoola hoops and our MCs on the mic.”

Getting involved with the drum circle is as easy as walking by the UC between noon and 1 p.m.

“I was running an errand in the UC Ballroom and when I came back out, there were two drummers playing a nice groove,” said Kulp. “A drum was available, so I asked if I could join in.”

Like Kulp, other drummers enjoyed the drum circle vibe and kept coming back every Friday. As the drummers increased, so did other forms of art and music. Dancers showed up in September 2008, along with singers. The growth in numbers also spurred a growth in diversity. There is now a vocalist from India, an African-American rapper who competes in “Battle of the Bands” contests, a Peruvian who grew up playing the cajon (box drum) and an Asian-American who mainly drums but also experiments with the hoola hoop.

“There’s a special quality about UMBC and its students that allows something like this to happen organically,” McAlpine said. “I think students are hungry for venues to share their own work.”

Straight Up Tribal is now performing at more events on campus. They recently performed as the opening act at the Global Women’s Health Benefit. Kim and Reggie Harris, artists from upstate New York, were originally slotted to be the main act but had to cancel at the last minute. Straight Up Tribal decided to put the concert together, including serving as the opening act, and only had 24 hours to do so.

They also hope to become an official student organization in the future.

For more information on Straight Up Tribal, contact McAlpine at or stop by the space in front of the UC between noon and 1 p.m. (free hour) every Friday. - Retriever Weekly


Still working on that hot first release.



Straight Up Tribal is a world music ensemble that has been performing at colleges, art shows, and film festivals since 2008.
Straight Up Tribal began in the Summer of 2006 as a student drum circle at UMBC that performed weekly in the student commons. By 2008 they had added a rapper, a lead singer, a guitarist, bassist and three hoop dancers. Since then Tribal has performed at colleges, art gallery openings, film festivals and some rocking house parties. Straight Up Tribal now performs a monthly concert series in downtown Baltimore at Teavolve Cafe (

Straight Up Tribal is Abhik Saha on stellar vocals and percussion, Tariq "Konsept" Ashley on lyrical rap vocals, Trey McFunkster Kulp on guitar and percussion, Steve Mitchell on bass, Asif Majid and Greg Schroeder on percussion, and Steven McAlpine on bicycle wheel, bucket and water bottle.

Straight Up Tribal records every show and videotapes some of them (see
YouTube and Live Archive for recordings).