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!



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