Marie's Blog

I just blinked and it's 2016! 

Wow where has the time gone? Life is hurtling past at such a fast pace.

So much time has passed since my last blog.

My beloved father passed away on 28th December 2014 after 6 weeks in hospital.  I couldn't go to work during his illness, I spent every day with my Mum and Sister by his side as much as possible. We had a strange christmas spent between the hospital and trying to pull some sort of family christmas dinner together.  It was a terrible sad time.
He was 93 and very much loved by all of us. I thought he would live forever.  I don't think I will ever get over the loss.
He and Mum bought me my first djembe - Billy - named after my dad. Many of my drumming buddies came to his funeral.
I cancelled the Kontaani Christmas Party and Performance as my heart was not in it and I didn't have the energy or the enthusiasm to plan it.

Dealing with the funeral was one thing, but caring for our lovely Mum who has alzheimers and had just lost the love of her life took it's toll on me.
It was tearing me apart watching her refuse to be away from Dad's ashes. She no longer leaves the house - she just want's to be with her 'Billy'.
I made my mind up to cancel this year's Kontaani Drumfest to give myself time to adjust to looking after Mum while I still have quality time with her. The work and amount of hours involved in running Drumfest are huge and as soon as I decided to cancel the weight lifted from my shoulders.  Hopefully Drumfest 2017 will be back better than ever.
In the mean time I plan to hold a couple of small residential drumming weekends at Stanley Head this year just for the Kukua group and the band.

The following weeks went by in a blur - the band were training with Sidiki for the Brothers Tour and I tried to throw myself into rehearsals with a heavy grieving heart.
Somehow I managed to keep up and the Brothers Tour performance was fabulous.  I have just put some of the wonderful photo's onto the Gallery page. Big thanks to Simon Brown (Travelling Simon) for taking them.

After the wonderful 'high' of the Brothers Tour there have been a few changes within the band.

Jane, one of the original 4 founding members and a dear close friend for many years, made the sad and heart wrenching decision to leave the band.
With 2 teenage boys coming up to important exams combined with her busy work life, she was finding it more and more difficult to dedicate regular time to rehearsals and gigs.  A very sad time indeed but I have no doubt that she will be back when the time is right. We still see her socially and as her partner Chris still plays with us we still see her along at gigs which is weird seeing her in the audience instead of up on stage with us.

Prior to Jane leaving I had been looking for a competent dundun player to start to rehearse with us in order to pick up various parts. This person was not to be a member of the band but to train as a sort of substitute if one of our dundun players could not make a gig.
The idea was to 'shadow' each of the dun players in rehearsals and work hard to be able to step in as and when needed.

The person was actually right under my nose - in the Wednesday Kukua class.
Lisa Swindells was showing real promise as a dun player and an overwhelming enthusiasm for drumming in general.
I was always singling her out to play duns as she picked up the rhythms so quickly. Such promising talent!

In June 2015 we were invited to play a Brothers Tour gig in Manchester with Sidiki and Tanante. We were dun players short so I asked Lisa to slot in.  This was quite a big gig for someone relatively new to performing but It proved to be totally the right decision. She was awesome and not only rose to the challenge -  she smashed it.
Lisa more than proved herself and after consulting with the rest of the band, who were all totally in favour, I invited Lisa to officially join Kontaani.

Her enthusiasm is as infectious as her laugh and she brings much fun and laughter into the tribe - she is already a much loved member of the Kontaani family.

We had a month off in December and started 2016 with renewed enthusiasm and fresh ideas of how to take the band forward.
We are working on putting together a varied set, changing some of our numbers and adding our own personal twist on some.  Rehearsals had become a bit of a social gathering and a natter instead of the usual hard playing! 
As the gigs started to come in for the year ahead - I decided that I needed a right hand man/woman to help with the running of the band and to assist in keeping everyone focussed.  Before I had chance to choose someone - he reared up and bit me on the ankle - taking control of the rehearsal time and re-arranging the way we rehearse.  Alistair is now my co-pilot!  'Braveheart', as we affectionately call him, spares no prisoners and adds a gentle firmness to proceedings, thus getting the most out of our 2 hour rehearsal time on a Thursday evening. He certainly keeps me on my toes to say the least!

So as we hurtle towards the summer, I'm really starting to look forward to some funky new stuff coming out of Kontaani and some great performances! 

The Kukua Wednesday group saw the arrival of half a dozen or so new folk.  Some of whom had attended my 'Introduction to Djembe' workshop at the end of last year.  It's so lovely to see the interaction between members who have been coming for years and complete newbies.
This is what makes me so very proud of this group - everyone is made welcome and hopefully anyone new soon feels like they are accepted and part of one big family. 
There is so much fun and laughter on Wednesday evenings, its a lovely warm and friendly gathering with a mix of freestyle drum circle (in which we raise energy and direct it to whoever or whatever we feel needs it) along with learning traditional structured rhythms.
The best story this year was when we all focussed on bringing Alison's cat Ozzy home after he had been missing for aprox 3 weeks.  We did a lovely drum circle directing the energy to helping Ozzy find his way home.
When I got home that night I had a wonderful message from Alison saying as she arrived back in Buxton Ozzy was on the doorstep.  You just couldn't make this stuff up! 

Some of our original drummers have moved on over the past 5 years that the Wednesday group have been going. People move away or move on to other more advanced classes or other interests take over. But I find there are always new people attracted to drumming. I never cease to love the obvious joy in someone's face when they find drumming for the first time. The complete euphoria when someone suddenly 'gets' the slap and tone correctly and the cheers of support from the rest of the group.
It seems just 5 minutes ago since that was me and then someone said to me recently - "do you think I will ever be as good as you?"  I was quite taken aback as I don't consider myself a good drummer - I don't teach because I think I am better than anyone else - I teach because I want to share this passion and grow a tribe of like minded souls.
No matter how good you become at anything, to stay humble is essential. No matter how good you are, there is always tonnes of room for improvement. I remember being so frustrated that I could never be as good as my own tutor. Then he told me how frustrated he gets that he is not as good as his mentor!

And on that note - I'm off to practice!
Bye for now 
Lots of love
Marie x


End of a fabulous year! 2013 

I can't believe I have not updated my blog since June!
What a fabulous year it's been for Kontaani. The band have enjoyed some great gigs including playing under Concorde's belly at Manchester Airports Gala Dinner for the opening of the new Air Traffic Control Tower. Our performances are getting slicker and more powerful. I'm very proud of my hard working band - but there is so much further to go yet!

We introduced Krin into our repetoire recently and trained with our old mentor and friend David Woolley to put together a new number led by Debs with 5 or 6 Krins in the ensemble. It's been a thoroughly enjoyable experience to introduce new instruments and our next venture will be with the Balafon! One step at a time though eh?

Kontaani Drumfest 2014 is well underway and places are more or less full with just a handful left.  This has just grown and grown over the past two years with word spreading about what a laid back friendly small festival it is and what a lovely bunch of drummers we all are.  It's a pleasure to spend time amongst like minded happy folk who are brought together by one common bond - drumming.

My trial Saturday morning beginners drumming class was well attended with students going on to perform at the Christmas Performance and Party on the 8th December at the hall. Some lovely new friendships were forged during the 6 week course and most went on to join the Wednesday group when the course ended.

What a fabulous night the Christmas performance was!  All students split into 3 bands and took to the stage in turn to play a number each to a huge audience of family and friends - they were all amazing! I was so very proud.
The Kontaani performance troupe played afterwards, goodness knows how we sounded as most of us were tiddly to say the least!
I was totally gobsmacked to be presented with gifts from the students and band members - a Rowan Tree which produces purple berries! It has been planted at the bottom of my garden by the river and been named KONTAANI. I was also given the most exquisite life sized Hare which has been comissioned in metal for me by sculpting artist Andy Hill. It's beautiful!  I will dearly treasure both gifts - well chosen for me! Perfect in fact!

Mon Duncalf from Demon Recording came over to the hall to do a test recording of the band in the summer.  It sounded fantastic through the headphones afterwards and we have decided to cut an EP with Mon but so many gigs and preparation for the Christmas Performance have got in the way.  Plans to record the EP around Spring time are underway. No doubt we will have a launch party at the hall in true Kontaani style! Watch this space.

Our wonderful friend the amazing djembefola IYA SAKO came to the hall to do a full day of workshops for us in October - It's always a wonderful pleasure to drum with Iya, he is such a patient and sympathetic teacher. When Iya smiles his big grin at you when you get it right it's the best feeling.

Our band tutors and my personal tutors Jamie and Beej are once again running workshops at Drumfest - I am in awe of these guys. They are not just superb, charasmatic and awesome players but I'm also proud to call them friends.  They are so supportive of the band and everything I try to do with Kontaani. They are a pleasure to drum with and hang out with.  I can't praise these guys enough for the wonderful tuition and mentorship.
It will be great to have them back again when Jamie returns from Africa in February to work with our band again.

I was recently overhelmed to be asked to play with all girl drumming band Wangari this year. They are all some of the most awesome women drummers around.  Unfortunately my time is so limited that I could not fully comit to the band but I am so looking forward to doing the odd gig with them in 2014!

Last year my personal New Years pledge was to give up alcohol for the whole of January for the Dryathlon in aid of Cancer Research. Never in a million years did I think I could do it but I did, raising much needed funds for such a worthy charity.
Poignant, as this year also saw the passing of our wonderful friend and Kontaani drummer Gill. Our band and a few of her class and  fellow drummers played at her funeral - an honor and fitting tribute to a beautiful lady. Gill left me her drum - it will be cherished always, I am very proud of it, I really loved her.

This year my pledge is to myself. Rather selfish perhaps but much needed - It's time I changed my lifestyle in order to progress to the level of drumming I need to be at. I need desperately to get fit and lose weight to have more stamina for more strenuous soloing technique and extended playing time.
I need to build up the confidence in my body which I lost since breaking my back. I know it's unlikely to happen again and yet I'm still afraid of falling or tripping which discourages me from certain fitness activities not to mention playing my drum stood up!
I know for a fact there is an amazing drummer lady locked in this body and it's up to me to invest time and effort in my fitness and to do justice to my private lessons with Jamie by practicing daily to encourage her to come out!   I'm looking forward to meeting her!

Just over a month ago I was asked to be interviewed for the Parish Magazine due to my work with Kontaani in Langley and my links with this beautiful village in which I have lived for nearly 30 years. Prior to that I worked in Langley from the age of 15 for 4 years when I left school. My great grandfather was from Langley and used to run for Langley Harriers. I didn't take after him in the athletics field I'm afraid!
My work with Kontaani in Langley and holding the classes and performances at the hall (which is lovingly called Kontaani HQ) provides valuable rent and funds towards keeping our beloved hall going strong.  I'm proud, very proud to be able to contribute towards the upkeep of this much loved center of village life.  I'm also very grateful to have such a wonderful venue on my doorstep in which I can teach my amazing music.
A big thank you to Viv and the village hall commitee for allowing me to use this wonderful space and thank you also to the long suffering neighbours who never complain about the noise!  I can't wait to see the article in this months Parish Magazine. When Viv came round to interview me a few glasses of wine were consumed by me as the tongue got much more looserer hic!  What a wonderful thing to ask me to do - fame at last!

I'm sure there is so much more I could write about but time is ticking and I have organisational stuff to do for Drumfest 2014 so it only remains for me to say a massive thank you to the students, band members, tutors, fans, friends and families of KONTAANI for making this the best year yet!
I truly love you all my Kontaani family.

Happy New Year to you all and here's to a BANGING 2014 !
Lots of love
Marie xxx

Kontaani Drumfest 2013 

Well I'm absolutely still on Cloud Nine!

The run up to this years Drumfest was fraught with problems.
Due to a mix up with the venue I came close to pulling the plug on it and was starting to think that negative forces were against me!

With venue problems sorted out amicably the biggest worry was the weather.  We had been so spoiled last year with superb weather and I was playing around with numbers - if the weather was terrible would we all fit into the classrooms or dining room for the workshops and parties?
I capped the numbers just in case but even so, I knew it would be a tight fit. I was relying on peoples good nature to get through a weekend full of soggy tents!

I needn't have worried! Although I got soaked wet through showing folk to accommodation on Friday - the sun came out in all her glory on both Saturday and Sunday enabling almost all the workshops and both of the fire parties to be held outside in the meadow.

My class for complete beginners went better than I hoped! In fact even the ones who had never touched a djembe before turned out to be 'naturals' and in no time at all had picked up good techniques and were eager for the 'proper' workshops with the masters! I must have done something right!

The rain eventually subsided on Friday and gave way to clear sky's to enable us to gather together around a huge fire for a freestyle drum circle.  The rhythms were really tribal - ebbing and flowing.  I was delighted to look around the circle at the fire lit faces smiling, laughing or just plainly lost in the 'zone' which this style of drumming encourages.
As the full moon rose behind the trees I felt privileged to be sat simply drumming in a circle around a wonderful fire with such a gorgeous gathering of folk, all just loving drumming together.   

After a hearty breakfast on Saturday the Drumroots crew once again facilitated a superb welcome workshop. These guys are such professionals, they deliver the best in drumming tuition.  They are a joy to work with and I'm also proud to call them my friends.

This year saw a couple of new workshops - SAMBA!  Samba John Hartshorn, along with Salli and Erin, delivered a couple of superb workshops which were such good fun.  In no time at all John had us playing complete Samba rhythms including the breaks. We loved it and it made a wonderful change from our usual West African themed weekend.

The Drumroots advanced workshop had all of us feeling 'stretched' - it was superb.

The charismatic Sens Sagna lead a wonderful dance class late in the afternoon.  By that time it was all I could do to haul myself into a deck chair to watch the effortless energy of Sens teaching an enthusiastic group of people West African dance.  It was too much to just sit back and watch so I joined Jamie with my djembe and played with the rest of the musicians.

Saturday evening performance and party was next.  The nerves had started to kick in as Kontaani waited to perform. We were performing in front of master drummers as well as folk who were seeing us play for the first time and it was nerve wracking to say the least.
Once we had started the old Kontaani camaraderie kicked in and we laughed, shrieked, applauded each other's solo's, giggled when we went wrong and cheered for each other. We were absolutely delighted when folk got up to dance and were thrilled to see our tutors letting their hair down to our performance!

We then eagerly awaited the highlight of the evening - the Tanante performance.  My goodness they did not disappoint.  As always, a display of superb drumming - these guys absolutely knock my socks of everytime I see them perform. I am in awe of their talent and bloody glad we went on first! Tanante are an impossible act to follow.
They were brilliant and Sens did not disappoint us this year - YES he leaped the huge fire from a practically standing start!  I held my breath but needn't have worried, the man is a human coiled spring - he leaped it effortlessly with so much energy.

Performances over, our Kontaani member Chris turned to the decks to spin some mean tunes until the early hours.  Folk carried on after wards playing guitars around the fire under a magnificent full moon until the sun rose on Sunday morning. 

Sunday was a laid back day and time to partake in the activities on offer.  Some bravely attempted the High Wire Experience (not me - no way Jose!)  I almost had a panic attack watching people high up in the air, following an assault course with nothing between them and a massive drop apart from a narrow wire???? No I don't think so.

I wandered down to the lake to watch others calmly paddling off in canoes. What an idyllic way to spend Sunday morning - sun shining down on the calm water. It was so lovely.  I didn't get to see the archery but from all accounts I understand folk really enjoyed having a go.

Sunday afternoon kicked off with Sally's screen printing workshop - WOW - it was fabulous! Folk sat around cutting out designs for their own T-shirt or tote bag.  I did one myself and got the bug! I did another and narrowly missed Beej's Djun Djun workshop!

The djun workshop back up in the meadow was the last workshop on the weekend itinerary.  I played djembe with Jamie and a few others to accompany the djuns.  Beej's passion for djun djuns is more than evident.  He lights up when he talks about playing them - it's infectious.  Lots of laughter and joy in the circle with everyone moving on to a different instrument every so often.  They all had the opportunity to play each of the drums and were taught a rhythm which Tanante had played during their performance the night before.  We all loved it!

I have so many people to thank - I sincerely hope I have not missed anyone out but here goes.......

Thank you to:-
Drumroots - as always, for superb tuition, wonderful friendship and an amazing time.
Samba John, Salli and Erin for the wonderful Samba.
Stanley Head Outdoor Education Center - all of the wonderful staff for making our weekend so special. Nothing is too much trouble.
Paul Hickey who tirelessly wandered around taking the official photo's all weekend! Can't wait to see them - if they are half as good as last year I'll be thrilled!
Tanante - such talent - you are all amazing!
Sens Sagna - you dance like a gazelle! Wonderful dance workshop and performance!
Sally for such a brilliant and different activity - everyone loved the screen printing.
Fire officer Paul Truswell for keeping the fires burning and for all your hard work over the whole weekend.
To Hurdsfield Church for lending us your huge marquee.
Sandra - for being our first aider.
Karen - once again, for bringing your gorgeous fair trade stall.
To David, Adder, Anna and Sens for bringing your lovely wares to sell in our market place.
To my wonderful band Kontaani, I love you all.  I adore playing with you all and our friendship shines through when we perform. It has been said so often how it's obvious that we all love each other!
Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart.

Most of all - thank you to everyone who came, drummed, partied, laughed, danced, sang and just enjoyed the warmth and friendship which is what Kontaani is all about.  Kontaani translates to 'Happy'  - we certainly all had a Kontaani weekend!

The Cogs are already in motion for KONTAANI DRUMFEST 2014!

Fairtrade Gig 9th March 13 

Proud? I'll say I am!
Yesterday Kontaani students from the Langley Wednesday and Cloud Nine groups got together with the performance troupe to play in Macclesfield Market Place.
The gig was to raise awareness of Fairtrade Fortnight held each year in Macc.

Our Cloud Nine and Langley groups kicked in with a rousing and energetic version of Kuku followed by Jankidi.  Well played to all of you - you were all fabulous!
For some it was the first time they had played in public but everyone rose to the challenge despite the cold and drizzle. I didn't count them but there must have been at least 25 drummers in the Market Place - it was certainly an awesome sound!

Our performance troupe then took over playing Zaikou, Soli Woullen, Kuku and ending with our new version of Djole complete with singing - it was the first time we have sang it in public too!

We were then joined by the Mayor of Macclesfield and a gorgeous young coffee grower from Costa Rica who was visiting Macclesfield especially for Fairtrade Fortnight.
He said he liked our drumming - I said I LOVED his coffee!

Lots of smiles and laughter despite the rain, as is typical of Kontaani gigs.
Well done to the organisers and thank you for providing the cover for our players.

A few of us then went on to Cloud Nine for an impromptu jamming session - again lots of laughter!

I'm proud, very proud xxx

New Year Enthusiasm! 

A belated Happy New Year to Kontaani players, students, friends and family!

The dawning of a New Year has brought with it a massive surge of enthusiasm to make this the biggest and brightest year yet for Kontaani.
I have the bit between my teeth to push the performance troupe to new levels as well as introducing more varied content to the student workshops.

The production of a small CD of our live performance at the African Dance Party has made me want to produce a studio recorded CD of all of our pieces. This will hopefully be recorded through the Summer and be ready for release in the Autumn.

Our band recently trained with David Woolley (my first tutor of West African drumming).  David gave us a gift of a unique piece taught to him by an African friend who has since died. I hope Kontaani can do the piece huge justice. Although after the last rehearsal I don't think it will be long before we ask David to come back to tweak it a little ha ha.

Our regular Kontaani tutors Jamie and Beej of Drumroots came over last Thursday to help us to perfect our version of Djole - a favourite of mine.
I have stepped out of my comfort zone and decided that we will sing on this one. Alistair our wonderful dundun player has agreed to sing the call and we practiced it for the first time on Thursday - I was blown away by Al's strong voice and I'm sure I speak for the rest of the band when I say he was fab!
A few more rehearsals and this number will be ready for playing at our March gigs!
It is always a wonderful pleasure to see and drum with Jamie and Beej - we all absolutely love them to pieces and they are a massive part of the Kontaani family. We all hold then very dear.

I have recently organised a couple of Workshops for all Kontaani students, our band and our drumming friends at Kontaani HQ in Langley.
One was a Dun Dun workshop by our lovely friend and husband of ex Kontaani band member Gill.  Lamine Cisse is a superb 'dundunfola' from Guinee.  He has a wonderful calm manner and outstanding dundun skills.  The event was really well supported with many of our students having their first 'go' at playing dunduns.  We learnt Sofa with our Gillybean accompanying on a solo djembe. A wonderful evening was had by all.  Thank you Lamine and Gill from the bottom of my heart.

The second workshop was with 'djembefola' and superstar Sidiki Dembele yesterday morning, again at Kontaani HQ.
This was very well supported with 30 students in attendance. The djembe workshop was fantastic and the rhythm taught by Sidiki was wonderful!
I don't think one person was not grinning. Sidiki is such a wonderfully charismatic, patient and encouraging tutor, you can't fail to love him.
Supported by Yaz, our Debs and Al on dunduns the whole experience was simply wonderful. Sidiki - you are amazing my friend!

I spend so much of my time teaching beginners and improvers that I have neglected my own personal development.
I was shocked to realise I had not had a private lesson with my own personal tutor Jamie of Drumroots for almost a year!
I have put the cogs in gear and have booked lessons with Jamie every two weeks or so in order to seriously catapult my self forwards.
My own teaching ethos is to take students up to my level and beyond but I'm not quite ready to be overtaken yet! A few of my students are now having lessons with Jamie too and that pleases me no end....they have the bug like me and are striving to be really good players. I must have done something right!

Finding the time to practice daily is sometimes really difficult, especially with a full time job which can be demanding and include weekend and evening work, but in order to go to the next level with my drumming I will have to set aside a little time each evening even if it's only listening to recordings of my lessons. I have asked Jamie to 'test' me on the contents of my previous lesson - that will hopefully make me do my homework!

The Saturday morning sessions at Cloud Nine Holistic centre in Macclesfield are coming along nicely. They are such a lovely group of people and teaching them is pure joy for me. They are picking it up so quickly and have already learned a complete number including a complex beginning, breaks and ending. Three of them are sambarists so keeping time is no problem for them!
The owner of Cloud Nine and my very good friend Lizzie has plans to extend the studio where we drum.  This will open up the room which will enable me to take on many more students. At the moment it is a lovely small studio with a great atmosphere - I could still fit in a couple more students so if anyone knows of anyone wishing to join a drumming circle please let me know as soon as possible. Now would be a good time as we are about to learn a new rhythm from scratch.

Oh well - I have put it off for long enough - time to get the hoover out, we have a beautiful black house rabbit who is moulting like mad at the moment - Spring must be around the corner!

Happy Spring Tide everyone! - the Earth and Kontaani are waking up and springing forth with new life!
Lots of Love
Marie xxx

Kontaani Christmas Performance and Party..... 

WOW what a fantastic night! I have so many thank you's.......

The Kontaani Christmas performance and party was ACE!
I can't tell you how proud I am of the Kontaani family.
The Wednesday group had split into two groups, chose their own leader and chose a band name.

Fuge (sp?) kicked off with their number followed by Santaani (all dressed as Santa's) after which they came together to play the last number as one. They were so wonderful! Most were performing in public for the first time and from the hugs and wide grins afterwards it was obvious they had a ball.
I was extremely emotional - they were great!

Quick change over and the Kontaani performance troupe took to the stage to deliver the best performance we have ever done! Even our harshest critics - my partner and Debbie's husband said we were fantastic - possibly because we were so relaxed and having loads of fun and it showed.

I was so thrilled to have our good friends Gill and Lamine Cisse and David Woolley join us on stage for our final number Djansa which went down a storm to rapturous applause.

I surprised the band by giving each of them a CD which was recorded live in Stoke when we supported the Beat Artistes. David had the CD made as a present for me including doing the artwork - Thank you David from the bottom of my heart. We are all thrilled with the superb quality and how amazing that Kontaani have a CD out!!!

I think I got into bed at around 3.30, exhausted but so happy!

I wish to thank all of the wonderful Kontaani peeps not only for a fantastic performance but for pulling together to create a fantastic buffet -Thank you to Mae for co-ordinating the food.

I hope your friends and familes enjoyed it as much as I did. Thank you for the wonderful raffle prizes and Christmas decorations. The craft stall was fabulous too.

Thank you to Kontaani Chris, David Woolley and Kontaani Dee for the superb music - my legs and back ache from dancing!

Thank you to the Elves and Fairies for clearing up the hall on Saturday. I was so greatfull when I arrived to find nearly everything had been done!

Thank you to my wonderful band for the beautiful gift - I absolutely ADORE it!

To everyone who worked hard to make it such a wonderful party, thank you from the bottom of my heart,
Marie xxx

Back down to earth with a bump! African Dance Party 

Wow! I am completely exhausted!

David Woolley's organisation for the African Dance Party in Stoke to celebrate the end of Black History Month was fantastic.
Our performance troupe were thrilled to be invited to share the same stage as the truly magnificent Beat Artistes last Saturday.

Our loyal and trusty friends, family and fans made up enough numbers to put on a large coach from Macclesfield to Stoke which was aptly named the Kontaani Love Bus!

The band arrived at the village hall at 3pm for a last rehearsal and run through only to find that our Janey (one of the 4 original members of Kontaani) had come down with a severe migraine and couldn't make practice. She had gone back to bed in the vein hope she would be well enough to perform later.
Sadly she got worse and with great sadness we set off to Stoke without her.

It was also sad that another original member - our Miriam could not play but for totally wonderful reasons - she is growing a little Kontaani Drummer Girl in her belly and has only a month to go!

Arriving at the venue, our wonderful friends helped to unload our drums and then retired to the nearest pub to wait for the doors to open officially at 9pm.

The dance class was just about to start so we hastily set the drums up on stage and went off to find our changing room, dump our stage gear and find our mates in the pub for a quick pint or two to settle the nerves!

We later changed and made our way to the stage whilst the DJ was pumping out afro-beat rhythms. Upon entering the room we thought it was not busy till we realised the seats and tables at the back of the room were full!
Waiting patiently and self consciously on stage while the MC introduced us was a strange feeling.

We kicked into Zaikou with beautiful Tess leading and loved every minute of it. Tess is an amazing drummer and she led the band perfectly including performing a brilliant solo.

Quick change round and I led straight into Soli Woullen - solo's by Dee and myself were well received by the audience.

Tragedy struck half way through leading Djansa when for some stupid reason I lost concentration and went into Kuku instead! This threw the rest of the band resulting in a couple of us stopped playing.
I was mortified to say the least.
We recovered and finished the piece.
I quickly apologised to the band and explained to the audience that I had gone wrong and would like to do it again.
We kicked into a short version of Djansa again and played it through better and faster. Phew, my life passed in front of me!

Finishing off with Kuku we received rapturous applause and appreciation from the audience.  We were relieved it was over and elated at the same time.

Champagne in the dressing room to celebrate and time for a few beers with our family and friends before being treated to the most amazing drumming by the Beat Artistes.
Now relaxed and a little tipsy I could not help but dance my sox off.
The Beat Artistes were absolutely stunning both audiably and visually - the choreography was fabulous as their high energy routine had them jumping around and banging sticks in the air whilst maintaining the most amazing rhythms.

Rumour has it that their leader went wrong too - so I count myself to be on a higher level now!  I can go wrong with the best of them! Ha ha

Much dancing and prancing took place until it was finally time for the coach to depart for leafy Langley.

During the performances microphones surrounded the stage as a 'live' recording took place in order to produce a CD of the evening.  How amazing is that?  Watch this space - subject to my 'cock-up' being edited out I will be thrilled to hear it!

A massive thank you to David Woolley and the Beat Artistes for giving us the oportunity to play - we all had a wonderful time!

KONTAANI to support the Beat Artistes at AFRICAN DANCE PARTY -27th October in Stoke!!! 

Oh my giddy Aunt! There is a rumble in the Kontaani family camp - that of positive nervous excitement!

The KONTAANI performance troupe have been truly honoured by being asked to support the BEAT ARTISTES at an African Dance Party in Stoke to celebrate Black History Month 2012.
To say this is an honour is not strong enough - we are truly overwhelmed!

The Beat Artistes are some of the UK's finest drummers and to say we are in awe of them is an understatement. Members of the band include our own tutors Jamie and Beej and our old friend and tutor David Woolley - absolute quality!

Oooooh my tummy is turning over already!

The event is now detailed on our events page and the tickets are available to buy through ticketline.
We have a coach booked which will pick up in Macclesfield and Langley so if anyone would like to join us for the evening please get in touch to book a place on the Kontaani fun bus!

Here is the write up...............

AFRICAN DANCE PARTY is a collective of some of the best live African Bands and AfroBeat DJ’s in The UK.

On 27th October 2012 we will be celebrating the end of Black History Month 2012 with a spectacular party in Stoke On Trent, Staffordshire.

Maitre Samsou is a remarkable talent, former teacher and director of the now legendary Les Ballets Africains, the international touring group of Guinea, West Africa.
...At 8pm, he will be leading a dance workshop with “Jokeh” another one of our best imports, Jokeh has devoted all of her life to learning the beautiful art of West African Dance. The participants of this workshops will then join Maitre Samsou and The Beat Artistes for a performance later in the evening.

At 9pm the doors will open to the African sounds of DJ Raymond Crabtree and African food will be served.

At 9.45 we will be treated to the sounds of Kontaani, “probably the best community drumming project in the whole of the Uk”, their spirit and enjoyment typify everything that is positive about African Music.

At 10.05 you will be treated to more of the best African Music with DJ Raymond Crabtree.

At 10.30 Maitre Samsou and The Beat Artistes, our headlining act for the evening, will share with you some of the finest music from West Africa, live and unplugged, full of energy and skill…….NOT TO BE MISSED !

At 11.15 JUJU Selecter.
What can I say about this DJ ? his passion has led him to research both West African and Jamaican music for some 7 years, selecting the very best tunes for our dancing pleasure…..I Cannot Wait !

We will be serving “cut price” drinks at our home made bar.

This is a ticket only event and we have limited numbers so be early to avoid disappointment. Its only a fiver !

Buy tickets at

Oh, and one last thing BRING YOUR DANCING SHOES !

Just Drop In Centre - 10 year anniversary gig 

Well what can I say - we had a lovely time drumming outside St Michaels church in the Market Place, Macclesfield yesterday to celebrate the Just Drop In Center's 10th Anniversary.
What a worthy cause! These guys do so much good for the youth in the community.

Just as we were about to set off for the church the heavens opened and there was a horrendous thunderstorm and torrential down pour. I had visions of us having to play in the church it'self and wondered if the magnificent old building could cope with the noise! Certainly the accoustics would have been tremendous!

After waiting around outside for what seemed like an age due to a wedding party taking shelter back in the church waiting for the rain to stop. They finally apeared in all their splender, to full on sunshine at last. Resisting the temptation to run forward and catch the bouquet I moved the van full of drums to the unloading spot.

We decided to go ahead and play just in front of the church door so we could make a hasty retreat inside should the rain come again.
However, the drumming gods smiled on us and we were blessed with glorious sunshine all through our set.

A massive thanks to the lovely young lady with the 'ears' who danced for us and encouraged others to do the same!
We ended our performance with a short workshop inviting dignitories and a few of the young folk up to drum with us to rousing applause from the onlookers.
If I had a pound for each time I hear "I'll have a go but I've got no rhythm" only to see beeming smiles followed by "oh my gosh I really enjoyed that!"

A great big fat thank you to the Kontaani Massive from the Wednesday group who came along to support us and join in with the workshop - you were all ACE!

Thank you to Ross for inviting us to play - it's such a worth while cause and Kontaani are proud to be part of the celebrations.

Langley Fête 2012 

Despite the horrific rain and winds we experienced last week, Langley Fête managed to squeeze in some reasonable weather last Sunday.

A few days before I had watched in horror as the huge marquees were whipped up by the wind and blow into the tree's, thus breaking one of them. My cottage backs on to the field where the yearly shenanigans are held.

Not to be deterred by the elements the Village Hall Committee and volunteers assembled on the field when the wind had dropped, retrieved what was left of the massive tents and set about re-building it all higher up the field where the ground was less sodden.

Saturday had seen our family's usual annual Summer Solstice party at the bottom of our garden so I woke on Sunday with a huge hangover almost hoping the fête had been called off!
Not to be! - the 'soldiering on' spirit was well and truly absorbed by the committee and everyone was busying themselves setting up stalls and filling the beer tent with barrels and bottles.

The Langley 'lympic' Fête was opened by Ann Packer a gold medallist in the Olympics from a number of years ago.

Kontaani were the first band on at 3.30 and we whipped ourselves into shape and carefully carried the drums to the stage in our African shirts and our wellies!
After a swift hair of the dog whilst waiting for the pet show judging to finish we kicked into our set.
I was delighted that our dear friend Tess who plays with Tanante in Manchester joined in and played with us. Tess had been at the party the night before and was also suffering but she played brilliantly as always - I was so proud to be sharing the same stage as one of my heroines!

I was amazed to see quite a crowd had gathered and we seemed to be extremely well received by the villagers and visitors alike.

Walking back to the cottage afterwards I was stopped on numerous occasions by people complimenting me on how good the band were. I understand many of the other band members were stopped also!

During the performance I went badly wrong whilst leading the first number and completely threw the djun djun section. We recovered from this very quickly and the audience didn't even notice.
As our Pete said - it's not making a mistake that matters it's how you recover from it and he is absolutely right. Well -  that's despite the look of sheer horror on our faces which gave it away a little!

As always, I was extremely proud of each and every member of the band - we played superbly well and had our usual moments of laughter and sheer enjoyment which is always present in Kontaani performances. The camaraderie is second to none - we all get on so well and it shows.

 I think I can honestly say every member is proud to be a Kontaani drummer.

Long may it continue!

Marie x