Hey all,

If any of you are in the New England area in the next few weeks, I am inviting you to come to the 4th annual Drum and Dance Festival in Providence. This year our headline performer is Oumou Sangaré. We are really excited she is coming!

We are also having Nigerian singer Wunmi, Sidy's band, AfriManding and a bunch of others. The festival takes place between 1pm and 2am, September 29th. It kicks off with a two hour drum circle unlike any you have ever experience before. (Can you say African Drummers? LOL)

Here is a link to our site. Hope some of you can make it!

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Well, ok, I am just coming down after the drum & dance festival on Saturday and have to say, it was one of the best performances I have ever been to.... if I do say so myself, LOL. I am so sorry that none of you guys could make it.

We had an interesting schedule. It started with a drum circle... but with me on dundun for most of it, the vibe was decidedly African. I played Madan, Dansa, Wollosso, Sandia and a few others. At one point a group of Jamaican guys called 'Drums of Freedom' came and sat in and we had a great time grooving with each other. When I was playing Wollosso, the New Works World Traditions dancers came over and gave an impromptu performance in the middle of the circle. It was awesome, since many of the drummers had never actually played for dancers before.

We had Grupo Sazon with Jesus Andujar (which ROCKED) and Sidy's group, AfriManding. But hands down the highlight of the night was the pair of incredible women.... Wunmi from Nigeria by way of London.... and Oumou Sangaré.

Wunmi was up first and I have to say, if you EVER get a chance to see her, RUN, don't walk. She is one of the best performers I have ever seen. Her charisma is totally infectious, her music is imminently danceable. You can't stop smiling. She engages with the audience and is just all around fun. People who had never heard of her were standing there with their mouths hanging open. She played for about an hour and I swear, we would have been happy to have her go on all night. Except that Oumou was the headliner, LOL.

Which brings me to Oumou, who truly is the Queen.

So, Oumou flew in from Paris on Thursday for the gig on Saturday and was playing without her normal band. Sidy had a ngoni player from California named Madou Sidibé come to play and backed Oumou up with his own band. With exactly one day of rehearsal. And this was a case where you can see that a lifetime of amazing musical skill comes into play because the whole thing was really tight. Bouba Diabaté was on the guitar, Yacouba Diabaté on the kora. Sidy was the djembefola and a guy I just met name Kofi was on the drumset. And Oumou was stunning. Her voice truly is like the voice of an angel. And her stage presence was incredible. There were people in the audience who were, quite literally, weeping for joy.

For us, the best part of all of it was that we were in a very small club. (300 people.) It meant that the whole thing was incredibly intimate. Total strangers felt like good friends and the vibe of the night was exactly what Sidy and I talked about 5 years ago when we were planning our first Afrika Nyaga Drum & Dance Festival. We had incredible performers and an audience made up of people from all over the world, joyfully celebrating Africa. Together.

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