Tuesday, October 16, 2007


My mother says I come by my drumming obsession honestly. Everyone in our family gets obsessed with what they are interested in. She with theater, poetry and writing fiction. My brother with computers, then digital photography. My father with skulls and boats and growing artichokes in Newfoundland. It must be in our blood.

I watch djembe videos on youtube. Some are wonderful. There is a guy from San Fransisco who moved to Bamako, Mali, married a Malian woman and spends all his time documenting Malian drummers on video and posting it on the internet. He sells drums and cds, arranges for radio interviews for his teachers and hosts visiting students from the United States and elsewhere.

I was worried that, being a woman, I wouldn't be able to study in Africa. But then I found out about a group of women from Guinea who travel the world playing djembe. They call themselves the Amazones and they are all magnificent. I love that they are large women... not tiny skinny like most of the male djembe players. I dream of going to West Africa some day and taking classes.

Last night in class we had a big group. 8 of us were playing together. We even had a djun djun player! At one point my teacher had us all playing different parts of the song. All of us playing different rhythms, layered on top of one another. By now I am pretty steady and can hold a beat. I realized that my friend Lucia and I were holding the whole thing together because all the others were new. We were the most experienced in the class, and were the only women.

I want to go see Amazones live.

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