I guess summer is now beginning to bloom all over this hemisphere. I just came back from a "pre-Solstice" journey to the Big Island of Hawai'i....a truer paradise on Earth is harder to find. Perhaps the last journey my wife and I will have before welcoming our daughter into the world this Septmeber. That is a whole other kind of journey!! Hawai'i has everything one could ask for just about: perfect temperature, amazing landcapes, oceans, snorkeling off the beach, mangoes that fall from the trees on the roadside for you to eat (after washing), lush, lush, lush and a laid-back vibe (is there any other choice?). If I ever get some $$, I'd buy a house there in a flash.
Other than that the summer is looking kinda slow, might give me time to prepare mentally for what comes in the Fall. In some shitty news, I did not get some fellowships I was hoping for. Somewhat devastating at first, with the prospect of a LOT less income coming my way whilst beng a grad student...wind kinda went out of my sails a bit. We'll see how that journey goes..not doing much acdemically over the summer and am gonna start studying for comprehensive exams in the Fall...the next big step in this PhD affair.
Musically not much new on the horizon, doing some home recording with Kurai Mubaiwa which is fun, mixing the recordings for the Apetorku Gbodzi CD today, and will do some namasankirtanam type of activities with a great singer I met recently from Chennai who started his own Hanuman temple in Surrey. A few gigs over the summer with Zhambai and Tarab too (Hazem Matar is visiting for a month in July). Keep watching the side bar.
May 19, 2015
Mission accomplished in Ghana. Though I had a short 5 weeks there, I managed to do about 85% of the tasks I had on my mental list. A good amount of fieldwork, numerous interviews, recordings, songs, and most interestingly, a commercial recording was made of Agbodzi (shrine) songs using some equipment I took along with me. I'll mix/edit it very soon and send back to Ghana for duplication and release. Also made some new acquaintances with a Zangbeto hunor who I saw buried alive one day in Dagbamete. That's a different story though which I might post on the Ghana page.
Have settled back into life here though I still havent' fully unpacked, always takes me awhile.
This past weekend I had the great fortune to play for a Bharatanatyam dancer. A challenge and learning experience which I have not felt in awhile. Lots to remember, to accent, to interact with. Very different than playuing for concerts. And got to meet a great bunch of new artists who were visiting, especially Puneet and Taniya Panda. Sujit Vaidya, the dancer, did wonderfully. I hope Vancouver can support more live dance/music like this.
April 15, 2015
Drums, Dancing, Sweat
Been in Ghana for about 2.5 weeks now. Hit the ground running, straight from the airport to a wake-keeping for an old friend of mine who was a chief. That went on till the next day....and continued with his funeral and still more drumming in the evening. With that over it was the Apetorku fetatrortror festival which lasted for 10 days, saw a few thousand extra people descend on Dagbamete and a WHOLE lot of blood, palm oil, and spirit flowing. Everyone is was in some kind of extended sleep deprived, alcohol and music entrenched haze as there were nightly wake-keepings at the shrine. A thing of beauty. Feelings of togetherness and joy that are hard to beat.
Still about 2.5 weeks left. Trying to do lots of interviews, stay healthy, have some drumming lessons, get to the bottom of some of these ritual-music connections, and avoid the mosquitoes.
March 3, 2015
Ghana On The Horizon
Well, just a few more weeks and I'll be on a plane once again, heading back to Ghana for a very short month of research (March 26-May 2). I'm going to be quite focused in fact - spend most time in Dagabamate, interviewing heads of the Apetorku Shrine, recording during the festival and perhaps organize some dedicated recording sessions of that music/song/drumming, and of course take some further lessons on the various repertoires that are employed there. It is music I have been hearing for over 15 years but only recently have I really started to listen to it.
Just dropped about $1000 on some recording and video gear as well, so I better make use of it!!
School has been well this term, timewise not too demanding but reading a book each week and creating a thoughtful summary from an ethno point of view has been a task enough. Great course in ethnography it is. Add to this various gigs and rehearsals and now planning for the summer/festivals and some upcoming grant deadlines and it feels like there is not enough time in the day.
In completely different news I have started going to the gym!! Yep, never thought I write those words. Why you may ask? Well, my metabolism is not exactly speeding up and my eating habits are the same. I'm basically trying to enjoy my life as I always have gastronomically, but mitigate the ever expanding mid section, which can be the harbinger of other woes to one's health. So why not nip it in the bud or at least keep it at bay?
I'm definitely the odd one out. Feels that way at least!
Jan. 15, 2015
Here We Go Again...
Jeez. Poor website. You get little love from me for months on end! And for the very few who read this from time to time, sorry for the silence. Not much gets said here anyhow. I can't be bothered posting life advice or media content to keep you coming back..I've got too much else to do in life.
Lots of happenings since Oct.12, 2014. Played a great Carnatic concert in late October, Adanu had a super concert in late November, and I finished my 3rd term of grad school. December was spent mostly in India, a week on Neil Island with no electronic at all (what a treat) and my days spent snorkelling, eating coconuts, and riding a bicycle around the tiny island. Then 2 weeks in Chennai during the peak of the December season, following my guru around and geeting my rhythmic consciousness expanded regularly. Always an experience. Also had a chance to play a New Year's show with good ol' Pancho and Sal (Rio Samaya Band) in Goa and spend a couple of days lounging with them in a hammock.
Now back in Vancouver, killed by jetlag ( a week later I may be getting back to normal) and got the news that I have offically been enrolled in the PhD program at UBC, thereby skipping the MA section!!! Soon to the comps (oh dear). I've got to get down to business soon and start some transcribing and analyzing some of my recordings. Also start a clear research plan for my next trips to Ghana. This all seems to be happening so fast! Where will it end? Who knows. Step-by-step.
Oct. 12, 2014
Into The Throes
Wow. I was just in Toronto on a whirlwind trip to play a show with Lapis at the newly opened Aga Khan
museum. The impression it made on me is still lingering. Th architecture, iconography, and of course, the collection of the museum itself are fascinating. Items that span the Islamic world from Spain to China from 6th century AD through present. I only had an hour to go through but enjoyed it all the same. If you are in TO, do yourself a favor and visit. Some of the paintings, wow..... simply no words to express. And the architecture inside was so aesthetically pleasing, very symmetrical and at times acoustically rich.
Lapis was performing in the auditorium in the museum, which programs a healthy performance series of varied and noteworthy artists, I was honored be among those that have performed. The organization itself treats artists quite well and sincerely appreciates our presence, which is a nice change from the normal circumstances and trials that musicians go through. I hope I can perform there again in the future.
Now I'm back in Vancouver, working on some school work, papers and the like. But lots of musical activities on the horizon as well, some of which are noted on this site.Speaking of music, for those interested in Carnatic music, TM Krishna, one of the leading voices in that musical realm will actually be giving a lecture/demonstration on Nov.16 in Surrey!
A new season (has it begun?). One can feel Summer disappear, best make the most of what is left before Fall arrives with its own rhythm and feeling.
I like it though, always a new energy in Fall, many new beginnings. For me, my second year of school which I'm taking head on. A busy September with some writing deadlines and then a busy October with numerous gigs, including a number of South Indian events which I'm looking forward to. And cooking, always cooking. Been on an Ethiopian kick lately, but some flavours elude me....can't beat Harambe on Commercial Drive!
My salted fish should arrive from Newfoundland whenever someone is coming this way from there as well.
Kofi Golonyo made is back from Ghana and we'll be doing more, including a big show with Adanu Habobo on Nov.29 at the Roundhouse. Promises to be something great with traditional rhythms from Zimbabwe and Ghana and a nice horn section to augment the whole show. Some public participation on that one as well. Maybe a Zimbamoto album?
July 24, 2014
Coast to Coast...again
Well, I can't complain. I had quite a time at the Sound Symposium a couple of weeks ago. The highlight was indeed getting to play with kora master Boujou Cissoko and my buddy Pat Boyle on trumpet. Played a house concert, did a workshop and then killed it at one of the evening concerts. Hope to do more with that trio. Should have some video ready from that soon. As usual, I got to meet a number of amazing and diverse artists including Bill Horist, Bart Hopkin and my personal fav, John Kameel Farah. I met John about 7 years ago in TO and have been advocating for him to come to the Sound Symposium for years....finally! He did not disappoint. The best was a solo concert he did on a pipe organ in a church. I only got to see 15mins of his 40min set (soundcheck beckoned!), but from that 15mins alone, I was changed. It was a healing experience of sorts, very hard to describe but he was taking us on a journey for sure. Plus the sheer physical impact of a pipe organ is something to behold.
Got to see a few friends and family but not enough time as usual. Luckily, I'll be heading back in a week or so to play at the Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival, this time with my good brother Kurai Mubaiwa. He's been there back in 2010 (at Sound Symposium) and LOVES it there. Who deosn't really?
I hope to get a day out on the water if possible and get some codfish to bring back to Vancouver with me. Maybe blueberries will be ready too!
Summer has been busy thus far with some travel and playing, but I'm striving to find some time to enjoy the nature that surrounds me. I encourage you to do the same wherever you are.
June 29, 2014
Good Things Coming
Man o man o man o man! I guess I've been too busy for this little piece of cyberspace.
Returned from Ghana about 4 weeks ago. Amazing time as always. I wrote a little missive about it which you could have read if you were on my mailinglist, so please feel free to join it by sending me a note saying so! Made a lot of headway in terms of research towards my graduate school and was lucky to visit Agbomey (Benin) once again to taste some of that sweet, sweet music that they play over there. Some of the deepest polyrhythmic grooves you'll find anywhere.
My 1st year of my MA is 85% done, just have a major research paper to revise and submit by summer's end. The grad school experience is a journey, one I will be on for a few more years. But I'll do it my way as much as I can and make it fulfilling for myself. The key is to enjoy what you are focusing your efforts upon. I was lucky to receive a nice SSHRC fellowship which was encouraging and will help with my costs of being a student.
Beyond all the school, I'm still playing lots of music (thankfully). Busy with Zimbamoto
here and there and will play a few festivals over the coming months here in BC And praise the Gods I'll be returning to Newfoundland not once but TWICE this summer! In July for the always inspiring Sound Symposium where I'll play a couple of concerts with my newest musical friend, Boujou Badialy Cissoko.He is the real deal in terms of kora playing and we have been developing a nice rapport. Good ol' Paddy Boyle will be joining us for those concerts. Then again in August the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival will fly my mbira buddy Kurai Mubaiwa and myself back to play at their event. Kurai LOVES NL so it will be good to have him there again. Pat will join us for this gig as well. Hopefully the blueberries will be ready in August and some icebergs and whales will be there in July. Do I need to say how awesome NL can be in the summer months?
Ok, that's enough for today. I'm gonna go see if I can convince my wife to watch an episode of The Treme (Google it!)
"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flys like bananas"
Time is an eternal mystery, this I know. And our perception of it is at the foundation of this enigma.
When younger, time would drag on, traveling seemed to take forever, the days leading up to Saturday morning and your cartoons were an eternity. Now, older and busier, time seems to fly like nothing else. February is already nearly over and it seems like I don't have enough time to do all that needs doing.
I just came from my first academic conference in Seattle where I presented a paper on Carnatic rhythmic calculation/thought. Was a good experience overall. Have another one this weekend at UBC on a different topic altogether....still needs to be written!! Plus a 40+ page project in process, another major term paper for another class, plus readings, grant deadlines, applications for this and that. All of this on top of rehearsing, gigging and trying to plan gigs for the summer.
All has to be done by Apil 5 when I take off for Maui and the Ghana until May 31!
Somehow, I'll find the time.
In other news, the first Offering gig of 2014 is coming up. Glad to have Dave Spidel on bass and good vibes. We'll be trying out one of my tracks that I never play live, the percussion/rhythm heavy "Olive Ridley's Lament"...check it out on my music page.
And it begins
January started slow, I thought I could relax for a spell. Well that dream is over with no shortage of things keeping me busy now. Gigs of various sorts, meeting new musicians and maybe starting new projects (should I be doing this?), preparing papers for a conference, trying to organize and apply for festivals in the summer, planning a trip to Ghana in April and so on.
And now I might be doing a major independent project on top of the rest of my classes!!
Anyhow, I asked for it.
One major event is coming up on Feb.8 and will be featuring Adanu Habobo, Zhambai Trio, kora master Boujou Cissoko and Guinean guitar phenom Alpha Yaya Diallo. If that weren't enough, my good ol' buddy Awal Alhassan will be joing Adanu as well as a 4-piece horn section!!!
Turning of the Year
First term done.
Time manangement seems to be the biggest challenge and I have a bit of hold on it now. Excited to start the 2nd term and see how it all unfolds.
In Newfoundland now after being in frozen Ottawa (-31 with windchill!!!) for a spell. Respect to the Inuit folks. Newfoundland to has a bit of snow, even Vancouver so I am told. Tis' winter after all. Been laying low here on The Rock, hanging with the family, decorsting the tree, try and see some friends when I can. Have a couple of gigs too which will be fun, especially on th 23rd with Pat Boyle on bass!
Fly back to Van on Dec.31 for New Year's and the 2014 hits.
2014 will be another revolution. No resolutions really. Just keeping on living, learning, loving, sharing and giving. And of course, more music.
Hope yours is as good as it can be.
My Brain is Bigger
Nearly 2 months later and I here I am. What changes…my God. Being back in school IS quite an adjustment for me. I’m used to a lazy, free kind of life with little commitments (beyond what I create for myself) and no deadlines (save for the random grant deadline a couple times a year). But now in Grad school I’m having to do readings, assignments and research papers!! Being evaluated (with numbers/grades) is kind of weird too. Is it even necessary at the graduate level?
All that said, I’m managing well and learning LOTS about a range of things in the Ethnomusicological world and beyond and can feel my brain expanding and using powers of concentration that were long dormant (or put towards musical things I guess). Many thoughts about the future and where this will all lead me and what impact I can have.
But I keep making music. How can one stop? Have been busy with Lapis and hope we can get some funding to record. Did a great gig with my trio Sancharam at UBC which was well received and have more things coming up with Zimbamoto, Adanu Habobo, Lapis and Tarab. Should I slow down?
I gotta play, I can’t only be an academic…it is unbalanced to me, especially if one is an academic focused on music. Isn’t the music what is most important (some will debate of course). As with most of my life, I see myself on the periphery of the mainstream so I’m curious how I’ll integrate with this world.
Speaking of which, I have reading to do!!
August 30, 2013
The Big Smoke, The Rock and Blueberries
Well, well, well. What to say. The last while has been a whirlwind. 2 weeks in Toronto to strengthen ties with friends old and new, spend some quality time with my guru Trichy Sankaran (who never ceases to amaze with his wisdom, generosity and overall greatness) and saw some superb music, ranging from some futuristic neo-soul from Australia (Hiatus Kayote), hardcore (Phil Anselmo) and heaviest of heavy, Black Sabbath!!!!!
For the last while I've been in St. John's, NL with a few jaunts out "around the bay". Managed to pick some chanterelle mushrooms (without meaning to find them) and will soon go pick a whack of blueberries to bring back to Vancouver. If you don't know, Newfoundland is basically covered in blueberry bushes and they are in bloom this time of year. Just go into any patch of land off the highway, walk and eventually you'll hit some bushes. Sweetest berries ever.
Of course, playing a tonne of music while here, eventhough I only planned on doing 3 shows, it seems like I'll have done about 7 or 8 before I head back to Vancouver next week.
Speaking of which, my life will go into a different mode very soon when I enter school again. Exciting times!!
July 23, 2013
So much good weather here in Vancouver these days, why spend it on a computer inside?
Been hitting the beach as much as I can (but not to swim, too cold for me) and spending a lot of time in my hammock on our balcony.
Had a whirlwind of different gigs recently too and had a great experience teaching at a 5 day summer jazz camp operated by my friend Jared Burrows. Was quite rewarding to see the participants develop over such a short period of time.
Now preparing for a couple fo Zimbamoto/Zhambai Trio shows and especially looking forward to having Antuan Nunez from Cuba (now living in Vancouver) play some tres with us at the Mission Folk Festival gig!! He recently moved here and I'm trying to bring him out to different jams when I can, great musician.
Also gearing up for my visit to TO (Aug.4-17) to see my guru and some friends and then 2 weeks in Newfoundland (Aug.17-Sep.5). Sooooo looking forward to that trip. Might even get some cod-jigging in if lucky. Hopefully the blueberries will be in season too!!
And then my big change in life, returning to school in September at UBC. Got my courses registered, some books bought and now must prepare for a slight change in lifestyle!!
All good though.
June 14, 2013
The Road Ahead
So today I registered for most of my courses for my graduate school journey to start in Spetember. Feels very real now. Will be an interesting time and I do believe I'll thrive...I have a lot to share and explore. My biggest problem is choosing what NOT to focus on since I have done so much over the past 12 years since leaving school.
Other than that the last month has been a process of settling in. After I arrived back from Ghana my parents came to visit and enjoy Vancouver (and me too of course). Since they left I have been struggling to even just organize my house and life! Been playing some cool shows and met some interesting new musicians. I think I'll be having some tough choices to make regarding time/energy management come September. Though in school I'll still need to play!!!
Upcoming are some interesting shows and one new group I have joined is called "Lapis" with Rup Sidhu and Mohamed Assani. We played a cool set recenty fusing beatboxing, beats, sitar, rhymes, mridangam, mbira, kanjira and ghatam (!!!). More to come from that group.
May 17, 2013
Back in the West
An amazing 2 months in West Africa. Lots to share...need some time to get it together..stay tuned.
March 14, 2013
6 Months Around The World + $50,000???
So my wife has entered this very interesting contest where you make a video, write a blogpost and basically make a case for why you derserve an all-expenses paid trip for 6 months on 6 continents and at the end you get $50,000!!!
Yes, it is true. You can view her entry and vote too by clicking below!
March 3, 2013
Raising Some Funds For Ghana
Mark it down folks, March 17 I'll be involved in and organizing the first fundraiser in Vancouver, for the work I have been doing in Ghana since 2007. It will indeed be a warm and fuzzy evening with some great music as well featuring Zimbamoto, Tarab, Rio Samaya Band, Mezcla and the premier of ADANU HABOBO, a Ghanaian traditional drum/dance ensemble that is being led by myself and Dr. J.S. Kofi Gbolonyo.
Here is a FACEBOOK PAGE
The proceeds from this fundraiser will go towards the work that I have been doing as well as school project that Kofi has been undertaking in Ghana for the past several years. My own project has been detailed on this website and you can know more by clicking on the DZOGADZE FUND
button on the top-right of the page. Kofi's project - GHANA SCHOOL PROJECT
is essentially a free music school for children in his hometown, both traditional and Western music.
This is a great cause and 100% of the money raised goes straight into the work being done, none of it for administrative fees, promo, office space etc.
Please spread the word to your friends and network.
Also know that tax-deductible donations are accepted for the Dzogadze Education Development Foundation
, via an elementary school we have partnered with in Newfoundland who processes the receipts.
Love Is All Around
Valentine's Day it is!! I think the only time I've ever really "celebrated" this day was in elementary school when we made/bought cards and gave them to our classmates. Nowadays, love is everyday all the time no?
For me anyways.
Been a good year so far, the Language of Rhythm Project (L.O.R.) is under way and still workshops left with that project. Our final cocert will be March 21 on the International Day for the Elimination of Racism. More info about all of that is on the Public Dreams website which is HERE.
In a couple of days my Sangati concert will happen. A bit of buzz surrounding it which is great and I am really looking forward to make this effort come to fruition. Been rehearsing lots with Jared and Colin to get my original pieces up to speed and they sound great. Will be a treat to play with Vidyasagar and Prabha as usual and excited to introduce Karthigha to Vancouver audiences as well.
Also be on the lookout for the Adanu Habobo debut concert on March 17! It will happen during a fundraiser that Kofi Gbolonyo and I are organizing in support of the work we both do in Ghana. A Facebook page is here: HERE.
Besides all this, lots of other cool things happening. Had an AMAZING show with Tarab at Cafe Deux Soleils on Saturday past and look forward to doing more with that group. And soon, I'll be off to Ghana!!! (March 25-May14)
Well then, I guess the experts were wrong , Dec.21, 2012 did not end the world. But according to the Mayans, something did end (and something else began again). This I heard from a Mayan man himself at a Mayan city of old in Mexico recently. Quite fascinating the Mayan reckoning of time, cycles, life and their calculations/numbering system.
And an awesome environment too of course :-)
Anu and I spent 2 weeks in the Yucatan, snorkeling, swimming in the ocean and in cenotes (freshwater underground water systems!!) and eating LOTS of tortillas.
Before that was in Ottawa and NL visiting family and enjoying the holiday season.
2013....doing some cool things already including this LOR project which sees me and 7 other Vancouver artists (other drummers, First Nations singers, beatbox/rapper) coming together to create some new music based on our love and understanding of rhythm. A series of workshops too. Check the details on the left. Most exciting to me is my concert on Feb.16 with some great South Indian musicians including Vidyasagar Vankayala (voice), Karthiga Parmeswaran (veena), Prabha Sivaratnam (violin), Jared Burrows (guitar) and Colin Maskell (sax/flute). Yours truly on the mridangam. Do make it if you can...we don't get a chance to produce music in a setting like the Western Front very often.
Not sure what else 2013 will bring..no major plans besides those things thus far. No tour plans, no festivals booked. Who knows where I'll end up. For sure I know I'll be in Ghana from March 25-May 17 and still have room for people on my Ghana trip. Hope to get deeper into some Guruni music in Northern Ghana and hopefully back to Benin as well for more Fon music styles and life.
And finally, I've submitted my UBC grad school application so my life may begin to become a whole lot different!
Well, I'm not sure what happened to November really, but here we are in mid-December. In Ottawa now visiting Anu's family which is fun. Playing indoor living room hockey and soccer, doing puzzles, being lazy, seeing bits of Ottawa....which is actually kind of a nice little city. In a couple of days we'll head further east and spend 13 days back on the Rock which will very welcomed. Get to see Pop, my family, friends and play a couple of shows. I've decided to not actively book to many things in there because the time is so short and there are many people to see and be with.
The Ship gig on Dec.27 will be especially fun and I hope to see some friends there, it might be the only chance I'll get to see some people in fact. Have a new piece written called "A Frayed Knot" which was intended to be simple to play and learn, but ended up being something completely different!
Dec.29 will be an afternoon, family-friendly gig at the foyer of the Arts & Culture Centre being organized by the Sound Symposium. Will feature some Scruncheons, Dzolali, Black Auks and much more. Always a good time!
Dec.31 Anu and I will take a little side trip to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico(!!). Flights were pretty cheap from NL-Mexico-Vancouver so we bit the bullet. Will spend most time in small town called Xcalak, visit Tulum a bit, do some snorkeling, get vitamin D and see some Mayan ruins!
Finally, I have a friend in need. Diane Smithers is a great photographer and has run into some serious hurdles with gear being stolen (cameras, lenses, hard drives) as well as cash. She has set up an fundraising campaign to get back on track. The link to her site is HERE.
October 29, 2012
No Tricking, But Some Treats!
A month on the road is no joke. The tour was quite intense overall, but also quite comfortable and well-organized. Perhaps the best I have ever been on. But in the end, I think touring is not my preferred way to make money or music. It is great to be able to travel the world and play music of course, I am very lucky to do that. But as a preferred means, I'd like to stay local. On tour, you don't really get much chance to do much besides see your hotel, your car, your venue and then your hotel. It is hard to think about life outside of the tour either and as for "seeing" the world, it is usually through the window of whatever mode of transportation you have.
That said, I'll still probably do some kind of tours again in the future, but will be more careful about how long they are and what they entail. I have been back for a week exactly and that is about how long it has taken for my life to return to some kind of normal. I had immense physical and some emotional pain to go through upon coming back home, as if everything I was going through during the tour was being absorbed so I could just get through it. Day after I got home I hurt in places I didn't know I had pain during the past 28 days!!! Good ol' adrenaline. That said, today I bought a pass for my local pool/rec-centre...not to swim, but to enjoy the awesome hot whirlpool and sauna!!!
Am now thinking of the immediate future and some gigs, rehearsals and plans for the rest of the year. Am also thinking of buying my tcket to Ghana ASAP because they are SUPER cheap on the Delta Airlines website. I have some interest for my trip but so far not many "confirmations", though that deadline is not until Jan 2013.
Deutscheland Uber Alles?....not really
Don't get me wrong, Germany is pretty cool after being here for the first time. I've only ever really spent time in airports but for the last 16 days or so (and until Oct.22) I've been all over Germany, everyday a different place played music with Uzume Taiko. Hearing German all around me is kind of odd as it is an odd language to my ears. Culturally, this place is not all that strange to me, maybe the vast amount of meat and bread that is eaten is a shock to me (like most of Europe perhaps?)And the clear lack of "colour" in most times we visit.
But playing music I have decided, is not the best way to see a country. I much prefer visiting a place to study music, taking my own time, sticking around and absorbing what is arond me. The pace I am on is a different place everyday, different hotel, different venue. The music itself is the redeeming aspect. But that is only 15% of the day. But I am lucky and grateful I can make a living this way.
Not without some incidents though! In short.....Oktoberfest, several 1 litre beers, a 20 feet high stage, no ID/passport, a security, police station, a small bag of white powder (Vitamin C in fact!!) and then a free ride to the hotel by my new friends in uniform.
Not to mention an average speed of 200km/h (and at times 240!!!) on the autobahn.
Life moves fast over here.
August 24, 2012
Turn of the Seasons..
Summer is still trying to keep its face showing, but I can feel Fall in the air. All good though as Fall in Vancouver is pretty awesome anyhow.
Lots going on this Fall for sure. Of special note is the new Adanu Habobo which I am forming with Ghanaian drummer/dancer/teacher Dr. J.S. Kofi Gbolonyo. He has been here for 3 years and we have been trying to start a group and it is finally happening. This group will focus on the traditional music of Ghana, especially from the Ewe side as that is both our areas of expertise. We have a core of dancers and still need a few more drummers. Contact me if you or someone you know would fit in the group. They can come by and we can see how they do.
Besides that, there are a few nice shows coming up, especially Thursday Aug.30th with Rio Samaya band at Nuba. Last time was a blast, this will be too.
In some great news, Zhambai has been invited to showcase at Mundial MOntreal, a new world music showcase/event that happens in Montreal. We'll do it up in November, hopefully we get some funding!!
Speaking of funding, a few days ago I found out I got some for my "neo-Carnatic" concert which I'll probably do in January. More on that later.
Sunshine Music fest in Powell River coming up and hopefully some camping. Enjoy the outdoors whe you can!
August 3, 2012
Sin Jawns, Sin Jawns, St. John's.....never a dull moment when I get there these days. I was lucky to be there from June 30 (arrived 3:20am which set the tone for most of my evenings) and returned on July 24. The question is not what did I do but what did I NOT do. Tonnes of music at the jazz festival, Sound Symposium and more. So many friends, kites to fly, codfish to jig (yes, I went jigging with Paddy Boyle), family to hug and eat with, whales to watch.
St. John's in the summer is one pf the best places on Earth.
The Sound Symposium itself had so much for me this year. I had several friends from Toronto come down and stay for the duration of 6 days and I took them around in grand style, late nights and early morns at in the bars, seeing the sights, soaking in it all. Played some great shows, esp a duo show with my cohort Patrick Boyle with a tribute to the "Adorable" Adrian Adonis ( behind us a huge screen of his match with "Rowdy" Roddy Piper at Wrestlemania 3....epic indeed). Some time to hang and jam with the inimitable Jaron Freeman-Fox as well.
Though shorther than previous years, the SS for 2012 did have some redemming moments and allowed for a greater use of energy in such a short span. One of the highlights was driving out to Doctor's Cove on the edge of the land, hanging with my old friend Reuben "Beny" Esguerra (who is about to release an awesome spoken word/hip-hop/precussion album) and letting Gayle Young show us how to make lithophones from rocks we found at the water's edge. Truly amazing day in the sun.
Good to be back in Vancouver now and making things work. Playing some nice shows with Zimbamoto & Zhambai Trio in August, an interesting world fusion type of gig in September with a varied and talented cast and then in later September a tour to Germany with Uzume Taiko. One major thing that will be getting off the ground is a new West African drum/dance ensemble with my friends Kofi Gbolonyo. It will be called "Adanu Habobo" and will finally be an outlet for all the music from West Africa I have been keeping within myself. We'll see how it goes.
Speaking of dance... THIS FELLOW is in a word, amazing.
June 28, 2012
To The East!!!
Man o man o man. No shortage of things to be at. Zhambai CD release went amazing. Bongo Love were great and Zimbamoto brought the heat. Probab;y the best Zhambai Trio show yet...great energy from the crowd who was there to dance share their love.
I've done most of the admin work and CDs have been sent, now just finished a FACTOR grant application for Zimbamoto...we shall see.
Anu's absence (she being up on Haida Gwaii looking at birds) was filled by the guys from Bongo Love. I had them all staying here for a few days I gotta say, they are some of the nicest dudes.
And open minded too.
Funny, kind and very modern fellows. It was very refreshing to be around them. Making me want to go back and visit Zimbabwe!
They'll be back in Vancouver aroud November so we'll plan to do another show with them and Zimbamoto.
Just gearing up now for my trip back to The Rock. As you can see from my gig schedule, not a dull moment...gonna be grand.
It is also capelin season so I hope to taste a few and get some pictures as well. It is quite a sight...thousands of little fish spawning and killing themselves.
One more gig here in Vancouver with Pancho and Sal and then I'm off next morning at 8am.
No rest for the wicked they say, but I don't feel that wicked!
May 31, 2012
A lot has happened in the past month and more things ahead.
Biggest is the success the Zhambai Trio had in raising funds for our debut CD. Thanks to everyone who contributed....good things coming your way. As I speak the manufacturing is underway and the result looks and sounds AMAZING! Greg Valou did a super job with the artwork. The release date has been set for June 21 at The Waldof Hotel and we'll have Zimbamoto joining us as well as Bongo Love , a super group of musicians all the way from Zimbabwe!!! Tell your friends and be sure to by some advance tickets, you get a better deal that way.
Besides that I've been busy with a cool new trio called Tarab which plays the highly emotive music of the Middle East (Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and more). This group is led by one Hazem Matar, a superlative oud player who is living here for a couple of years before going back to Saudi Arabia.
Had a great gig with my own ensemble The Offering of Curtis Andrews the other night at The Kozmik Zoo. Wonderful venue, crappy weather and awesome music. Lucky to have such great players play my tunes. Another possible gig with that group in June...stay tuned.
And of course I've been busy with Uzume Taiko ...recording our album, rehearsing our show for the October Germany tour and preparing for a local show on June 13 here in Vancouver. Details on the side.
Newfoundland in one month!!!
April 29, 2012
It is beautiful here in Vancouver now. Leaves are slowly covering the bare branches of the thousands of trees that line our neighbourhods, sooooo many amazing flowers are showing themselves, especially the ubiquitous cherry blossoms which are always a treat for the senses. I gotta say, Spring in Vancouver is pretty awesome. I don't think I've ever been here during this time of year...either in Ghana or on tour somewhere.
Life is moving forward....many things on the plate. Been playing regularly with Jamie Perry (aka Boocephus King) in an interesting group called Orchestra Familia at Chai (on Broadway) each Friday. They've just opened a new place on Main St. and I think we'll shift there soon.
It goes places.
The Zhambai Trio fundraising efforts are under way (please tell your people!!) and we are slowly reaching our goal. Have a few dates over the summer booked as well. I'll be playing some shows in May with my jazz group, a Carnatic concert with Vidyasagar Vankayala and Prabha Sivaratnam,a gig with Acoutiscamoderna ( a new group I'm playing with), ZimbaMoto of course and with Rio Samaya whenever possible.
Also busy with Uzume Taiko in rehearsals for a show in June, a tour to Germany in October and two shows in November. We are also recording an album(!).
So things are pretty busy and I'm liking it. Will be turning 35 on May 2 which will be interesting. Divisible by 7 AND 5!
March 18, 2012
Zhambai On The Move
Another month gone and here we all are.....2012 is well underway.
I've been keepng busy with various things and am looking forward to the release of the Zhambai Trio CD which we are in the process of fundraising for right now. Just launched an on-line "crowdfunding" campaign with IndiGoGo (check the widget over on the left).
Besides that have been trying to get some music together for my own ensemble "The Offering", and look forward to a gig at The Kozmik Zoo in a couple of days as well as having a bit of action with ZimbaMoto, Jessi Nicholson and the Pacific Sound Collective.
One great thing that is on the horizon is a community Ghanaian drum and dance ensemble I will be putting together with Dr. Kofi Gbolonyo, a generous drummer/dancer/teacher who lives in Vancouver these days (and teaches at UBC). We just had a tasty performance with the student ensemble on Saturday past in fact.
Have also decided on my Newfoundland dates...will be there from June 29-July 24.
The Gap is Over
After 2 months in India and Sri Lanka, getting married again (to the same wonderful person!) I am back in Vancouver. An amazing time was had. My sister, one of my brothers, parents and a slew of Anu's relatives and a dozen or so of our friends from around the world made it to the wedding.
A 2 week honeymoon in Sri Lanka opened our hearts and minds a bit more and I had the fortune to be around my Guru in Chennai for some of his concerts and watch hom receive the title of Sangita Kalanidhi (a big deal if you know what that is).
Now in Camada again I have to figure out how to make some money for myself. Always thinking a few months ahead. It is a weird way to live one's life. ZimbaMoto have a nice CBC gig coming up which will be recorded, Zhambai will have CD coming out by June (we hope) and will do a few gigs. Will try and set up a couple of shows with my large band and plan to work more with Kofi Gbolonyo (Ghanaian drummer/dancer) while I am here.
Live & Learn in Ghana won't happen this 2012, only got 4 people and needed 6. No big worry. Will give me a chance to stick around and grow some work in these parts. Speaking of which, I'll be offering a couple of one-off workshops in Ghanaian drumming in March. Deets on the side.
The Eve of India
In the midst of final packing for a 2 month journey tomorrow to India. Wedding on Dec.11 and then taking my parents and sis on a 2 week tour around Southern India. Have been a travel agent for the past week searching the best places to stay, booking flights, trains, cars...sheesh!! Will be good for them though. Spend 2 weeks in Chennai to see Guruji Trichy Sankaran play and see him receive a major award as well. Then off to Sri Lanka with Anu for snorkeling and adventure!!
Return to Vancouver on January 30th.
Yeah..life is good I suppose.
Back from Belgium...what's next?
Full of broodjes, awesome chocolate, cheese and an amazing variety of (strong) beer. 3 weeks all over Belgium with Uzume Taiko....a grand time. Learned a lot, played a lot, ate a lot.
Will perhaps return next Fall as well.
Now onto the future...a bunch of things coming down the pipe.
A couple of gigs with Sunshine Coast folky-jazzy-bluegrass group The Rakish Angles on Oct.28 and 29 and then I'm in Toronto for 2 weeks to visit some teachers and friends...and play a gig at Trane Studio on Nov.3.
Then back to Vancouver for 2 weeks in mid-November to play some gigs with my ensemble, Zhambai and ZimbaMoto....and also do some recording with Zhambai.
No shortage of things to be at I spose.
And then on Dec.1 off to India for 2 months.
Residency is Over
It was great while it lasted but my residency with the City of Vancouver/Caravan World Rhythms and Vancouver Community College is just about over. Had a great time, taught some new students, made new friends and even better got a chance to make some new music...and pay people (including myself!) in the process. This Saturday will be a little display of some of that music and it promises to be something great, including a chance for me to finally play some mridangam in a decent setting, which is few and far between.
Joining me will be some great players including Colin Maskell, Kristian Naso, Dan Shook, Francois Houle, Jared Burrows, Graham Ellsworth, Bonnie Soon, Jason Overy, Rod Caballero, Norm Patterson and special guest Vidyasagar Vankayala.
And it is free!!!
August 29, 2011
Summer into Fall
Is Summer over? Is it dictated by the months only? September around the corner? The feeling in the air? The weather? My days kinda flow into one another..I don't notice weekends, holidays and such like most people. I can do basically anything I want, when I want (within reason). So really, weather define seasons for me. That said, August was super sunny here in BC!
Did a lot of cool things, taught a bunch of Ghanaian drum classes, been working with a new trio (Francois Houle, Jared Burrows) which is more focused on my S.Indian inspired compositions (with me playing mridangam). All of those things are part of residency at VCC (via City of Vancouver/Caravan World Rhythms), which will end in a few weeks and culiminate in a "recital" of sorts. Has been a very fruitful period and helped me a lot.
Lately I've been playing/creating with Uzume Taiko here in Vancouver. They are not a traditonal taiko ensemble by any means, but are perhaps one of the more exciting in the groundbreaking work that they do. We'll be doing a 3-week tour in Belgium in October so our noses are to the grindstone in preparation and creating the show. Sounds awesome so far!!
All this activity has made me more aware of how we live our lives (as artists at least) by planning for the future......constantly. I am everyday looking at my calendar, planning rehearsals, gigs, tours, grants and such....all weeks/months away. It seems very odd as our life is happening here and now. It would be nice if I could just live in that here and now and not have to do such planning and living in "the future". Well, I guess I could but it mean a radical lifestyle shift and less $$, which we all kind of need right.
But how much? And to what end?
Oh yeah! I made a website for Zhambai Trio...it is HERE
July 20, 2011
Yes people, I am now a husband to the wonderful Anuradha Rao.
After a brief courtship of 7 years or so we finally made it binding, spiritually (most important) and legally (not so important). Happened on July 10 in St. John's at the local Hindu Temple surrounded by lots of friends and family. A beautiful ceremony if I may say so, following ancient Vedic rites with a slight modern variation. And then a great little party in the evening with amazing food!!
While home I also had the chance to play a few gigs, watch some whales, re-connect with friends and overall had a an awesome time.
Now I'm back in Van City and ready to sink my teeth back into my teaching and residency and play some shows with Zimbamoto. Last night we had awesome show with Mbira dzeMuninga from Zimbabwe and will be heading to Komasket next weekend with Zhambai Trio to play this great little festival, from what I am told anyhow...I have never been there!
June 23, 2011
Things have been moving well. Settling back into Vancouver, rejoining my friends, playing a bit.
Last week's Ghanaian music workshop was great and another one tonight. If interested do contact me first.
Been playing with my good friends Pancho and Sal and various other good souls (Bocephus King, Navaro Franco, Robin Layne) at Chai Gallery and East is East. Check out these people if you get a chance. Music for the soul indeed.
Yesterday had an awesome meeting with Francois Houle and Jared Burrows who I'm forming a new trio with. This is made possible by the residecny I have at VCC which allows me the time, space and resources to meet weekly with these fellows and flesh out some new music. Some good things gonna come from this indeed.
And playing more Carnatic music lately in preparation for a young musician to make his debut as a singer. He is a student of the great local vocalist Vudyasagar Vankalya and the concert is this Saturday. For a youngster (13) he sings pretty well.
I'll be in Vancouver for most of the summer except for 10 days in NL (where I'll get married). Hopefully I'll get a chance to leave the city a bit and enjoy the beauty that BC has to offer. Maybe hit Zimfest in August as well if possible.
June 6, 2011
A new resident
So as you can tell by looking left, I have been lucky to receive a "residency" at VCC (Vancouver Community College). This is made possible by the City of Vancouver (who funds the whole thing) and Caravan World Rhythms (who applied on my behalf).
Essentially I'll be getting paid to teach some workshops, give some lec-dems (with some guest artists) and have the time and space to work on some new music. It will end in September.
The most significant aspect for someone reading this is the workshops in Ghanaian music/dance that I'll be offering every Thursday night. Spread the word and come check it out yourself if you can.
June 1, 2011
My God......4 months have passed just about. Idlers tour seems like such a long time ago. I just arrived back from Ghana a few hours ago. Amazing time as usual. Reconnecting with old friends and forging new relationships as well.
I had 7 people come from Canada as part of the Live & Learn in Ghana 2011 program and I can say with confidence that they all embraced it 100% and got 110% back. The food, climate, music, customs, belief systems.....they took it all with gusto.
And no one got sick!!
After they left I admit the village was kind of dull, but I didn't stick around long as I headed east to Benin for a week to get more of the music there which is always a nice challenge. Reconnected with the Zodji family and had my mind opened just a little more with brother Joel Gboja Zodji and the zinli rhythm.
Then spent the last week or so traveling to Tamale to see my northern family which is always nice since I coould not see them last year. Some of the nicest people anywhere are the Atindaana famly of Tamale.
And now, after small-small bribery at the airport in Ghana, I have arrived back in Vancouver safely with some new kpanlogo drums and a giant gourd from Benin.
Now.....where do I begin?
February 25, 2011
Back from India and on the road
Had an amazing time in India over the past two months. Wrote a great missive about it which is here in the travels section of the India page. Will add some pics to accompany as well soon.
Should have some time as I am on the road now with Idlers from NL. Started the tour in Canmore about 10 days ago and it has been a blast. Great shows, great crowds...and amazing snowboarding in Fernie. First time for me in 18 years (!!). Came back to me in a flash....as did a completely sore body the day after.
Idlers tour is just beginning and have a bunch of dates across the country so check us out if you can and visit Idlers.ca to hear some tunes.
December 31, 2010
Back in India
After 3 years away, I finally landed back in Chennai...haven for dosa and Carnatic music lovers.
Arrived after a long journey at 4am, settled in and went to my guru Trichy Sankaran's house where we prepared for one of his concerts, a refreshing shower of music from Vijay Siva. Then back to guruji's house and then to have a night meal with he and his wife.
Quite a first day back....am a bit tired but getting into my groove a little bit now.
Am here until mid-February.
December 23, 2010
New album is here!!!
After several years sleeping on my computer, a duet album from trumpeter extrordinare Patrick Boyle and myself is out!!!
The album, entitled Rock Music and is a series of duet improvisations between the two of us.
Featuring trumpet, flugelhorn, gajda (Croation bagpipe), bass, African drums, bells, cymbals, mechanical birds, congas, drumset, water drums and more.
Out of the 20 tracks (57mins), there is at least one piece that anybody on
Earth will enjoy...I guarantee.
Maybe it will be the funky "Boswarlos", the pensive "Trepassy" or the
frenetic "Come By Chance"?
Perhaps the water drums of "Quirpon" will tickle your fancy, the floating
quality of "Flat Rock" or Pat's trumpet-beatboxing on "Spread Eagle"?
The music was inspired by or named after various unique place names in Newfoundland & Labrador..in some abstract way.
Music suitable for dancing, quiet listening, freaking out, driving, star
gazing, and more.
You can buy it from Fred's Records
in St. John's
and it will be on iTunes shortly.
November 15, 2010
Dzogadze in the news and the rest of 2010
The whole Dzogadze foundation project has been featured in some national press recently. Check out the links here from a Newfoundland newspaper and
from Radio Canada International (do a search for Curtis Andrews and the page will show).
In other news, I have bunch of local Vancouver gigs coming up (check to the left for deets) and will spending a good 18 days in Newfoundand over Xmas and play some gigs too.
Off to India from Dec.28-Feb.22!!
October 30, 2010
I'm getting married!
India, Dec 2011....more to come...all are welcome if you can make it!
August 17, 2010
Updates and more
I finally got around to updating some sections of this website. Some new videos and pics have been finally put up in the Benin, Japan and galleries.
Visit the galleries and check them out..esp the vids on the Benin page.
Have also put up some new pics on the Dzogadze page relating to the foundation and the latest work we have been doing. Check that
Speaking of which, I'll outline a bit of those activities for y'all.
1. Purchased hundreds of geometry sets, pencils, exercise books and school uniforms
- To help ease the economic burden of individual students (and their families), we periodically purchase certain consumables for groups of students of different grades.
2. Purchased drawing boards to be kept as property of the school
- A drawing board is a certain piece of wood (kind of like a drafting board with a T-Square and such) used in some courses that are part of the curriculum. Instead of buying them for each student, the school owns these and lets students use them and return them.
3. Electrification of primary block and JSS block
- The village received electricity in 2009. Thus, it was decided to add lights and electrical sockets to a number of the rooms in the school complex.
4. Computer room creation/renovation
- Students in Ghana learn about computers/information technology but many schools have no computers. This village is such a case. Many students have never even seen or touched a computer yet are instructed to learn about them. 4 computers were procured from various sources and were brought to the village in April. With these in hand, a room in the JSS compound was renovated, fortified and has now become a computer lab! No internet connection or anything, but these systems will help kids get a little more familiar with computers and their basic functioning.
5. Mosquito Nets
- 100 mosquito nets were purchased and handed over to pregnant women, nursing mothers and families with small children in the village.
6. Water reservoir project
- For several years, however, the village has been petitioning the local government to help build a water reservoir in the town. This would provide a secure, abundant and safe means of water supply, and also one that is considerably more convenient and less stressful on each household. At present, a household must send several family members to the water pump with numerous water pans, wait in line, fill said pans and then transport them to their house (which may be quite far from the pump at times). A water reservoir system in the town, besides securing clean and safe water, also means an updated distribution system with pipes running to several taps throughout the town. And if people can afford it, they can choose to have the pipes come directly into their house.
- The local government is currently building this water reservoir. It is near completion and $700 of Foundation money was put towards it.
So as you can see, a few thousand dollars can go a long way.
And here are some recent pics as well.....
Kids checking out the new computer room for the first time.
Distribution of geometry sets, pencils, exercise books.
The water reservoir project under way.
July 6, 2010
The 15th annual Sound Symposium is under way. It is amazing. If you do not check any of it out, your life will be less beautiful than it could be.
Visit www.soundsymposium.com and choose something....anything.
And if anyone wants an mbira lesson with Kurai just drop me a line. And if you want any lessons with me, do the same..I am here in St. John's until Aug.2
June 21, 2010
I'm back!! (sorry for neglecting you website)
Well, seems like I forgot I had a website since I got back from Ghana a few weeks ago. The two months were amazing and intense...major learning experience. The Live & Learn Tour
was a great success and I am very eager to do it again next April, with newfound knowledge and experience. The people who came all had life-enriching and life-changing experiences, I'll post some of their words soon and post pics too (though I lost all of mine!!).
My own time spent studying in Benin was extremely eye-opening and mind-expanding. I felt like a child of rhythm at times learning a rhythm called zinli. Do a search on it try and find the one...any one. Will post some vids soon on that as well as photos from the whole trip.
As for now, I'm slowly settling back into Canadian life. Soon after arriving I was hi-jacked by The Idlers and went on a 8 day tour of B.C. which was in a word......awesome. Great crowds and amazing scenery...Tofino blew my mind. What a beach. In 10 days I will be off to The Rock for the whole month of July to play a wack of shows and will bring Kurai Mubaiwa with me...gonna be good times. And a plethora of other awesome musical activities are also planned on The Rock, my own group, Idlers action, Dzolali...keep watching my listings.
But before I leave for NL, I get a chance to play my own music with some great musicians here in Vancouver!!!...see the listings for more deets.
Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like...
Bananas!!! Wow....how did that happen? Been two months since I posted any "news". Maybe it is because I have had lots of news!
Have started a great new trio with Kurai Mubaiwa, a highly talented mbira/marimba (and several other instruments) player from Zimbabwe. The trio is called "Zhambai" (which means "scream" in Shona) and is composed of myself, Kurai and a great percussionist/dancer named Navaro Franco. We play straight-up traditional and some contemporary music on mbira, marimba and hosho. Very "trancy" and fulfilling. Check us out sometime.
Olympics have come and gone...I am relatively unscathed. Got a few gigs out of it though which was okay. Other than that I just read the headlines and stayed away from the crowds.
Gee, what else? The Ghana trip is full with 10 confirmed people...it's gonna be awesome. My visa is now being processed and preparations are being made on the ground over there. I was also lucky to get a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts to fund the study protion of my trip. I'll hang in Ghana for awhile and then spend some time in mysterious Benin, going deeper into that musical culture.
My jazz ensemble is slowly coming together as well (rehearsing is proving harder than I thought) and I have a few gigs planned for June when I come back from Ghana.
July will be spent back in NL...best time to be there....a Sound Symposium year!!!
A new year...a new page
Twenty-Ten....has a nice ring to it. Am looking forward to what it will bring as I have a good feeling about it.
Happy New Year/Decade to you reading this!
Been back in BC for just over a week now and am getting some things on the move. One major thing is a series of workshops I have been taking with a visiting master Korean drummer named Kim Dong-won. This music is super funky and invigorating...shamanic ritual music in fact and it is interestingly, mostly in a 5-beat cycle..very cool.
Will try my hand at some workshops of my own at the end of the month. Depending on the response I may try for regular episodes....not enough Ghanaian music in these parts. As elsewhere, the djembe dominates...gotta bring some balance to the scene if you know what I mean.
And slowly, I am finally getting the Japan section of this site on the go. Check it out the Japan page for a taste. More to come.
Last week I was selected as the winner of the 2009 Atlantis Music Prize!! This award is patterned on the Canada-wide Polaris Music Prize , and is given annually to the best full-length album from Newfoundland and Labrador, judged solely on artistic merit, without regard to genre or record sales.
An independent panel of 40 journalists, musicians, and people recognized for their knowledge and appreciation of local music submitted their top picks for the best album released between November 1, 2008 and October 31, 2009.
Details about the whole thing are here at The Scope magazine website. The Scope is an awesome local arts/politics/life magazine that is doing much to promote community and communication about what goes in St. John's and Newfoundland as a whole. They sponsored the Atlantis prize.