Monday, June 30, 2008

1st day of workshops

We began the official classes for the New Orleans Dance Festival today.  At 9am we played/watched the Haitian class, and FanFan, the lead drummer, spent some time with
 the Akoma gang teaching some playing techniques for conga drum.  Opportunities to work with experienced players like FanFan - especially focused time like what he offered to the students - is precious and rare.   Given that this is just the first day and everyone at the festival is still finding their feet, it's clear that the learning opportunities are just as plentiful as those for teaching.

Then at 1pm we played the first Ghanaian class, which was a blast!  So the music has begun and we're in a groove. 

As you can see, we're not having much fun at all.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Sort of!

We are in two student housing facilities; Jud, Luke, Alex and Dan are down the street at one dorm, and the percussionists/dance teachers are all in another.  The campus is big, still recovering in many ways from Katrina, but overall running well.   Biggest bonus: a coffee house immediately across the street from both of our dorms.

We played the new Ghanaian drums last night during rehearsal, which was the first time the instruments have been played in ensemble form since they were shipped from Ghana last month.  They are AMAZING and the students love them - so do I!  Awal, the dance teacher from Ghana who we are playing for over the next two weeks, doesn't arrive until tomorrow (right before his first class) so we're trying to make sure the musical portion of the equation is ready to go.

Our neighbors are from Haiti, Botswana, Cuba, Zimbabwe, NYC.... 

Once everyone is settled in we'll post some photos!  More soon....

Friday, June 27, 2008

We're Here!

Excellent day of driving - we pulled into the Tulane campus at about 11:15 pm and everyone is settling in.  Tomorrow we have some free time before checking in with the coordinator of the festival, and then classes begin on Monday.  

Photos and such from our drive will be posted tomorrow!  

Thursday, June 26, 2008

1/2 way there

Hello from just south of Roanoke, VA!  We pulled in after a long but fun day of driving - just want folks to know we're safe for the evening, all is well, and we are making good time.  I think we're in a town in the middle of the mountains called Christiansburg; we decided to go past Roanoke in order to avoid traffic tomorrow morning when we decide to start driving again. 

All the drums, luggage, and people somehow fit into the van, too!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

T Shirts...

I got T shirts for the ensemble as a surprise, which we can wear for our performances.  The back is the logo you see at the top of the Akoma blog page.  The phrase is in Twi langage (of the Akan people of central Ghana), a proverb translated basically as:

"Those who want to be king in the future must first learn to serve." 

The front of the shirt is the name of the group, Akoma, layered over one of our master drums, called an atsimevu:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Addison Independent Article

We've hit the bigtime!  See article in it's entirety here.

It's been great getting so much local support - now all we have to do is get the van and start driving!  Ok... well, after picking up the van, 20 drums have to be loaded in... then we need to all connect at our meeting point in NY (the group is coming out from the coast to meet me, so I'll pick them up in Newburgh)... THEN we can go.

We have a Friday, July 11 performance scheduled for the Musician's Village, and some others around town for different causes, on top of the daily festival classes.   However, we'll also have plenty of time to see New Orleans - we're there during the July 4th holiday, too!

2 more days....

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tulane article

Tulane's online journal, "The Wave," did a great article on the dance festival we'll be playing at for 12 days.  There is a great shot of Awal, the Ghanaian master dancer who we are supporting that week.  Check it out!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Almost ready to go...

We leave on June 26th for New Orleans.  We'll be traveling down 87, 84, 81 and into the south - if we're lucky, the drive will go smoothly over 2 days, having us arrive late in the area on June 28th, or early the morning of the 29th if not.  Into a 12 passenger van will go three sets of drums - an Ewe set, a Dagbamba set, and some hand drums from the Ga region.  Also into the van will go 5 people trying to pack very conservatively!  We'll be housed on the Tulane campus, and will have access to laundry and kitchen facilities so that we can keep our costs down while there. 

We're still scheduling performances off campus with various groups - there will be no shortage of playing time!  The link to the festival itself is at:

*ring* - wow, the Addison Independent, our local newspaper, just called - they want to come over and do an article on the group and the trip to New Orleans! 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

First Blog Entry

We've moved our blog from our google page site to here, so it's more easily edited, accessible, and readable - this is where our daily updates from the New Orleans trip will be posted.