I live in Seattle, almost exactly halfway between the old Fremont Drum School and John’s Music, and have studied African drumming at both places. Baba Olatunji drew me into African music with his beautiful presence and rockin’ music. I have studied West African djembe/dunun drumming with Mamady Keita, Famoudou Konate, and many other teachers.
I often play for Seattle African dance classes, including One World Dance and Wassa Dance.
Info on Local African Culture, Music Groups, etc.
The Washington State Africa Network has a great page on their web site with a local African directory that lists African music and dance groups, African restaurants, and many other resources.
World Music in Seattle
Seattle often hosts African and other world music events, including free African music shows every Sunday night at HIDMO.
African Dance Classes in Seattle
For fitness, fun, or cultural exploration, you can take an African dance class in Seattle every day of the week.
Hand Drumming Classes in Seattle
Seattle is blessed with a number of excellent hand drumming teachers. Whether you want to study djembe, conga, ashiko, or some other type of hand drumming, you have plenty of choices of instructors and classes.
Djembe Technique Articles
Drum Circles and Drum Jams in Seattle
Seattle is crawling with drum nuts, and the rhythm community will gather at the drop of a hat. The best way to keep on top of drumming events in Seattle is by subscribing to the Seattle Drum Jams group. If you’re into samba, then you’ll want to subscribe to the local Sambistas group, too.
Among Seattle’s many regular ongoing rhythm events:
- Friday Night Jam. “The focus is on jamming with a friendly and spirited rhythm community. This is an opportunity to improve playing technique, develop playing stamina, groove and laugh with new found friends.” Subscribe to Seattle Drum Jams to keep up to date on the Friday night jams.
- Let’s Drum & Dance is on hiatus for now. No word on when it might resume. Let’s Drum & Dance happens on Saturday evenings (7:00-11:00) about once a
month at the Nippon Kan Theater (628 S. Washington St.). A typical LD&D includes an opening drum circle, a dance class, a performance or two, another drum circle, another performance, and sometimes a closing drum circle. Always lots of fun — and only $5. To stay informed about upcoming LD&Ds, send an e-mail to [email protected]
- Seattle Peace Concerts. These free concerts happen all summer at parks throughout Seattle. A drum circle forms immediately after the last act, usually around 6:00. See the concert web site for dates.
There are always drum circles at Seattle’s big annual music events: the World Rhythm Festival (next one in mid-April 2007), Folklife (Memorial Day weekend), and Bumbershoot (Labor Day weekend; note, though, that drum circles have been pretty effectively quashed by the apparently anti-rhythm Bumbershoot organizers who also have brought zero, zip, nada world music to the festival this year), as well as at Festival Sundiata (February), Brasilfest (August), Hempfest (August), and similar events.
Drum Performances and Groups
The Seattle Drum Jams list is probably the best way to keep on top of the Seattle world rhythm scene. Keep an eye out for performances by these local groups.
- Yeke Yeke,
a high-energy West African drum ensemble led by Thione Diop, a master
drummer from Senegal, performs fairly regularly throughout the Puget Sound region.
- Lagni Sussu is lead by Naby Camara, a traditional griot and balafon player from Guinea.
- Safal is a hot Afro-pop group lead by Ibrahima Camara, a master drummer from Senegal.
- Gansango is a music and dance company lead by Etienne Cakpo from Benin
- Cafe Tilibo is the web site for Modibo Traore, a bougarabou drummer from the Casamance region of southern Senegal.
Good Drumming E-Mail Lists
There’s plenty of drumming happening outside of Seattle. These lists have lots of good discussions on African rhythms, drumming events, etc.
African Culture in Seattle
Check out these resources to keep up with African culture in Seattle:
- Cowri Ethnic Treasures, 215 Broadway Ave E
(Capitol Hill); also in the Westlake Center downtown. Terrific boutique with African arts, clothing, fabrics, drums, and other high-quality imported merchandise.
- HIDMO is a nice East African (Eritrean) restaurant at 20th and S. Jackson that offers free African music every Sunday night.
- WASAN, the Washington State Africa Network, provides a calendar of Seattle African events.
- Sign up for the e-mail announcement list at the UW’s Program on Africa.
Keywords & spelling variations: djimbe, djenbe, dunun, dundun, dunounba, dundunba, chone
Learn Rhythms of Senegal
Rhythm for Fitness
Eric L. Wilson
Djembe Base Protector
This page created 4/22/01; last updated 3/6/08.