Call Me Xalam, Banjar, Strum Strum or Merrywang

The story of America’s instrument The meek and pluck-twangy sidekick to guitar and fiddle didn’t get its propers before Deliverance ruined an entire generation on banjo music and canoe trips to rural Georgia. The lone ambassador of a spectacular and truly (colonial) American history, the banjo is considered by folk musicologists to be the only... Continue Reading →

Witness the Strength of Street Knowledge – A Day Talking Race, Culture and Percussion with Conga Legend Gumbi Ortiz

I. The Lesson, Part 1 “Don’t be scared! You’re tip-toeing like you’re nervous.” We were nervous. There we were, in Gumbi Ortiz’s private recording studio in Gulfport, FL, getting an impromptu conga lesson—and Gumbi Ortiz is, after all, one of the greatest percussionists alive. We don’t play drums. “Put the tips of your hands here... Continue Reading →

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