BATO BATO! consists of a couple dozen high school students, a bunch of marimbas, and a plethora of percussion. The name is Swahili for "dancing place"- and that's just what they do! Although their style is deeply rooted in Latin rhythms and the Shona music of Zimbabwe, they also love to play marimbafied renditions of their favorite pop, alternative, rock, rap, and soul songs. Due to the nature of high school, members come and go, but BATO BATO! is continually turning over, learning each other's parts, and crafting new songs.
BATO BATO! released their most recent album, Knock on Wood, in April of 2023. Featuring eight songs ranging from Harry Styles to Bob Marley to traditional Zimbabwean mbira pieces, the album pays tribute to the history of BATO BATO! while giving a taste of what is to come. Listen on Spotify, Youtube, or Apple Music.
Since 2009, BATO BATO! has enjoyed playing routinely at venues like Orchestra Hall, The Cedar Cultural Center, the Midtown Global Market, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and the Minnesota State Fair, opening for international acts like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars, and the Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba. However, they also have a deep commitment to helping out and enlivening the Twin Cities. By organizing benefit concerts, providing entertainment for charity events, and performing at schools and shelters, BATO BATO! gives what they can.
In February 2011, BATO BATO! recorded their self-titled debut album at the Institute of Production and Recording in Minneapolis, which is available at https://soundcloud.com/bato-bato. BATO BATO! recorded a second album (recorded at Urban Ventures), entitled Havana Good Time. It was released in May of 2013.
BATO BATO!'s marimbas were handmade by Mike Ashton, an expert local woodworker. Without Mike, this band would not be possible. The band thanks Breck's administration, faculty, students and parents for their unceasing support.