Seattle World Music & Dance

Here are some upcoming Seattle world music shows. Listings include group name, venue, and a link to a page with more info (click on the show name and then on the “more details” link). Notable upcoming shows:

  • Orequesta Aragón – April 22-23
  • Johnny Clegg – April 30
  • Thione Diop’s Spirit Of West Africa Festival – May 10
  • Juan De Marcos and the Afro-Cuban Allstars – June 5-8
  • Honk Fest West – June 20-21
  • Angelique Kidjo – June 23
  • Matuto – July 17
  • Brasilfest – August 17


I am a huge fan of world music and dance, especially if it involves a heavy drum groove, funky syncopation, and/or a sweet percussion melody. I also play djembe and other percussion instruments now and then, mostly for Seattle African dance classes.

My interest in world rhythms started with rock and roll. The congas on Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice” and the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” The clave played on Bo Diddley’s guitar. Michael Jackson borrowing Manu Dibango’s lyrics on “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” Only later did I learn about Baba Olatunji, Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Fela Kuti, and King Sunny Ade. While living in New York City in the late 1980s, I latched on to Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, and David Byrne as they explored global rhythms, collaborating with folks like Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Youssou N’Dour, and Latin artists on albums like “Graceland” and “Rei Momo.”

In 1999 I wandered into the World Rhythm Festival at the Seattle Center and discovered one of my favorite musicians teaching a drum workshop. Baba Olatunji immediately drew me into African drumming, transforming me instantly from a world beat fan to a participant. Baba was obviously getting old, so I decided on the spot to study with him as soon as possible. My week with him later that summer at the Omega Institute was a perfect introduction to African drum and dance. Since then I have studied with pretty much every African, Afro-Cuban, and Afro-Brazilian percussion teacher in Seattle. I have traveled to Conakry, Guinea, to study with Mamady Keita and to Vancouver and Portland to study with Famoudou Konate.

I have played for pretty much every African dance teacher (two of my favorites are Sarah Lee Koumbassa’s One World Dance, which I co-founded with her, and Lara McIntosh’s Wassa Dance) in Seattle and have jammed and performed with many of Seattle’s best-known African musicians.

By the way, I’m not the only person in Seattle who lists info on world music shows. Check out these sources as well:

  • Doug Paterson’ Music of Africa show on KBCS Thursday nights 7:00-9:00 is always great. Sign up for his playlist, which includes a world music calendar each week.
  • Yogi McCaw’s Seattle World and Jazz Gigs blog lists shows, classes, jams, and other events.
  • The Seattle World Music meetup group hasn’t been vary active lately, but definitely worth signing up for.
  • Darek Mazzone’s Wo’ Pop show on KEXP plays every Tuesday night 6:00-9:00, and Darek often announces upcoming Afro-pop and other world music shows.

Here are some of my other pages about world music: