Chop, chop, busy, busy, work, work, bang, bang

Cor blimey. Summer holiday? Not me. Having said that, I am incredibly lucky to be playing Kora out and about so I’m not moaning. I think the only beach holiday the Koras want is a beach trip to Senegal or Gambia with Jali Hammay my teacher.

It was lovely to be guest artist at the Silk and Spices Caravan extravaganza at Seashell Trust a couple of weeks ago – working alongside the amazing Ros Hawley (clarinet) and Mark Fisher (guitar) and movement and drama specialist Jane Morland from Interplay theatre company. We created an artistic realm in the middle of a hugely dull and uninspiring common room. This space was vibrant, alive, tactile, beautiful, shimmering, stimulating… we made music and art and movement and magic with children, young people and adults with complex communication difficulties.

Playing with members of the Beat Artistes at a very lavish 21st birthday party at Sawley Hall, with all their glitz and finery and dramatic teepee tents and lifesize giraffes didn’t in any way match the magic of the Caravan. That said, the feedback they gave about my solo Kora playing was very generous and Maitre Samsou, master djembe player certainly pushed my Kora playing with his drumming – I got blisters!

Last week, the immensely talented Theresa Clarke (djembe) and I went to share music at Bowmere Hospital in Chester, playing for around 10 adult patients aged between about 25 and 90 and around 4 staff members. I say playing ‘for’ (and the notes in our contract said to be careful of too much contact with the patients because of varying mental health issues), but it very much ended up being a communal jamboree, culminating in an extemporised song ‘Thank you for comin! Thank you for ‘avin us!’. I’m hoping to do loads more work with Tess (best white female djembe player in the WORLD!) and was very inspired by the way in which Suntou Susso accompanied Sura’s kora playing on the djembe at the Whitworth’s closing weekend event recently – Tess, let’s get Suntou to give us some lessons!

This week I played kora at the Nursing and Midwifery Conference at Central Manchester University Hospitals Foundation Trust and got some lovely feedback from the Patient Experience Manager; ‘On behalf of the conference planning team  I wanted to extend a huge thank you to you for your support at the conference yesterday. It was a wonderful contribution and we have had some really lovely feedback about the difference that you’re playing of the Kora made to the whole event.’

This week I’ve also unearthed two tracks – one from 2 years ago that I recorded for Sam Jones who creates soundtracks for films and TV

And a really old song from 2007 – years before I discovered the Kora but which tells of the pathway towards the Kora through meeting a drumming group on a field by a fire and realising they were in some way family. Played on guitar by me with various bits and bobs. I recorded this in my blue bedroom at Jacqui’s house.

Here’s an old photo too, from Drumroots website. It’s amazing what you dig up when you go internet foraging! Have a good week all x

Holly-at-Drumroots-Zion

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