The Kontaani Band
The following 11 drummers play in the Kontaani performance troupe:-
In my 40's I joined High Peak Samba after breaking my back in a riding accident which forced me to give up riding. I needed something else in my life.
I had a wonderful time with High Peak Samba, finding my new hobby - drumming. Samba was infectious but was not exactly ticking all my boxes. My parents had bought me my first djembe 'Billy' a year earlier but I couldn't find a drum circle in my area. Then one of the Samba players told me about Mandiani - a community drumming group in the Staffordshire Moorlands. I joined in September 2009. I had found what I had been looking for.
"I introduced African drumming to my lifelong best buddy Debbie Kirkup, followed by my great friends Jane Duncan and Miriam Hall.
We used to practice in our own homes together on a Sunday afternoons and moved to the local village hall after an elderly neighbour had thought that bombs were dropping on Langley!"
A few Sunday practises later and KONTAANI was born.
"I have also attend courses and workshops with Drumroots, Iya Sako at the Royal College of Music, Maitre Samsou, Nansady Keita, Sidiki Dembele and in April 2013 I attended the training weekend in Bristol with the King of West African music Mamady Keita".
"My present day personal djembe tutor is Jamie Riley of Drumroots - a superb teacher who is highly respected by all. Jamie has a very patient, kind and laid back way of getting the best out of his students".
Our performance troupe are trained on djembe and dunduns by Jamie and Beej of Drumroots - we are very proud to have both of them as our group tutors and we strive to do justice to their exceptional training!
"I was first introduced to west African drumming by my best buddy Marie. We both played in a Samba band when Marie heard about a community project in Leek that we subsequently joined and that's where it all started. In a fairly short time I came to love playing my djembe and it has grown from then on!! When Marie set up Kontaani, it was another excuse to drum even more (the phrase "taking over my life" springs to mind :)
In 2011 I took part in a tuition holiday in The Gambia, which was an amazing experience and a confidence booster as I tried, and to some degree succeeded, in learning new pieces".
Debbie has also attended courses with Tanante, Maitre Samsou, Scott Jasper, Iya Sako and Mamady Keita. She also trained and played with the semi-pro troupe KAMARA for a few months in 2011
Miriam and Marie often played side by side over the garden fence in the summer! If one heard the other we'd grab a drum and join in!
Miriam has since moved around the corner and now has two beautiful girls,
I was also fortunate enough to go to the Gambia with Mandiani and had an amazing time. Drumming on the beach around a camp fire, eating freshly barbecued fish was one of the more memorable experiences. I'm looking forward to going to Drum Camp this year as I've heard so much about it.
Marie has established a wonderful group in Langley. The atmosphere is welcoming and positive and most of all we have a great time. I would encourage anyone who thinks they might be interested to come and have a listen and I guarantee you'll be wanting to join in".
Piers is our youngest member of the group.
I invited Piers to join us when he was 12 as he was always drawn to the sound of the drums when hearing us play in the village. I asked him to pull up a chair and handed him a djembe - the rest is history. Piers prefers to play the dun duns (stick drums) but also plays djembe. He is always drumming (even when we take a break!), we often have to remind him to stop!
As well as playing with Kontaani Piers is a superb kit drummer as well as a fabulous guitarist. He also plays in other bands.
Piers also assists Marie in the weekly Kukua classes.
I don’t understand why a tea shop wants its customers to play African hand-drums, but I am glad they do. I now own a fine djembe; and the rudimentary beginnings of a technique for coaxing its beautiful language from it. What’s more (and this really was a surprise) – thanks to my friend Wendy
I found a djembe circle, who are really good, with proper qualified teachers and everything, in leafy Langley, right next to where I live. Who’d-a-thaut-it?
In my other lives I promote trade justice & 3rd world development & recently retired from working on IT projects at Astrazeneca."
Dee Al Asadora
She is incredably passionate about drumming and dancing which is evident in each of her perfomances.
Dee adds a huge amount of colour and laughter to our troupe and to say we all love her to bits is an understatement!
However, he absolutely loves the laid back vibe of playing African drums with Kontaani which is a totally different concept. Pete just grins from ear to ear when performing, he simply loves it.
I began drumming at 13 when I took up drum kit at school and fell in love with it, but as time went on and after eventually losing my drums (don’t ask) I started to write my own music and focused more on guitar and piano, forming heavy metal bands such as Reign of Sirius & Karma’s Puppet. My love of drumming was rekindled after joining the Kontaani Kukua group which really took me back to my drumming roots and where I met Marie and a couple of the other Kontaani guys as well as classes with Leek Afrique, Jamie (Drumroots) and Sidiki. After a while, one thing lead to another and I was invited to join the band. I’m loving every minute of it and despite playing Dun’s the wrong way round I think I’m fitting in quite well.