While this is not exactly guitar related, it is music related. We’ve been very fortunate to have gotten to know the Burundi Drummers over the last year, and we recently were able to participate in one of their concerts (that’s me in the middle with the black shirt on). Every year I take my family to the “A World A’Fair” festival in Dayton, Ohio. The festival is a great place to see food, clothing, decorations, and entertainment of cultures from all over the world. We go because we enjoy it, but also because my wife is from Romania and it gives her a chance to see things similar to what she’s used to from her home country.
The festival has two areas for entertainment, a smaller area where dining tables are set up, and a main stage area with a huge set of grandstands. Last year we saw a group of drummers, around 30 or 40 of them, at the festival that we were so impressed by that after we saw them near the dining area, we followed them to the main stage for their next performance. The Burundi drummers start their show by carrying their drums, which I believe are made of hollowed out tree trunks, on their heads as they play them and march onto the stage while shouting and chanting. They then go into an amazing display of complex percussive playing that spans all kinds of tempos, rhythms, and dynamics, all in perfect sync with each other. It’s very hard to explain exactly how cool this is without actually having someone be there. The drums are loud and you can feel every beat.
After we saw Burundi (as they are often referred to), I commented to my wife that it would be really cool if we could somehow get in touch with them and have them come play for an international luncheon that we have monthly at our church. Then one Sunday about 6 or 7 months later, there were some new people eating lunch with us at the luncheon. I happened to mention to someone about the Burundi drummers and someone said, “Oh, some of those guys are here eating lunch today and have been coming for the last couple of months.” With such a large group of people from different nationalities normally attending the luncheon, I had completely missed the fact that they’d been coming.
The full group is not still in the area, but a number of them are, and we’ve been getting to know them over the last several months. So, jump ahead another 4 months or so and we decided to have a fundraising concert at church. One of the cool things about it is that the Burudi guys decided to include any of the kids from church that wanted to participate, so they taught them a dance to go along with their playing, and even taught some of the kids some of the drum parts. Here are some pictures from the practices and from the event. It was a really great show and having the kids be a part of it made it even more entertaining. The Burundi drummers are a great group of guys who I’ve enjoyed getting to know. They do travel around some, so if you ever get a chance to see them at a festival or event, I’d highly recommend going.