If you go
What: African drumming workshop
When: 7 to 9 p.m. Friday
Where: Craig Middle School band room
For more information, call Lori Romney at 824-6934.
What: African drumming performance featuring Abdoul Doumbia and the MCHS Jazz Band
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Craig Middle School auditorium
Cost: Free and open to the public
Mitch Romney was in seventh grade and at a twice-monthly drum lesson when something in the corner of his teacher’s room caught his eye.
The djembe, a tall, African hand drum that produces a rich, resonant sound when slapped at its center, drew him in and then drew him out of his comfort zone.
Romney, who had strictly played the drum kit until then, played the djembe for the last 10 minutes of that class, and during every drum class after that.
“It was kind of different than what I usually played,” Mitch said. “It was just really fun. You play it with your hands and the stuff you play is just so different.”
For the past three summers, Mitch, now 14, has traveled with his parents, Lori and Sherman, to Arizona for an African drumming camp.
It was there he first met Abdoul Doumbia, a drummer from a small village in Mali, West Africa, who now resides in Boulder, where he teaches and performs djembe drumming.
The two connected almost instantly, Lori said.
“Abdoul saw how much rhythm (Mitch) had and how much love he had for the African drumming,” Lori said. “Mitch said, ‘Abdoul, you should come to my town and do some drumming and performing.’”
This weekend, Mitch’s request will become a reality.
Doumbia will be in Craig this weekend to host djembe drum workshops and performances with students and community members interested in learning a unique and expressive art form.
From 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Doumbia will host a workshop with middle school students in the Craig Middle School band room.
On Friday, he will practice with the Moffat County High School Jazz Band and host another workshop for high school students.
From 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Doumbia will teach an adult workshop open to community members. There are a few spots still available in the adult workshop, Lori said, and participants will be provided with a djembe.
The workshop costs $20.
At 3 p.m. Saturday in the CMS auditorium, Doumbia and his students will do a showcase of what they’ve learned.
The MCHS Jazz Band and The Yampa Valley Chorus of Sweet Adelines International also will perform.
The event is free and open to the public.
After seeing him interact with Mitch and other drumming students, Lori said Doumbia will bring something unique to Craig.
“Abdoul is amazing,” she said. “He’s not only a gifted drummer but a very loving and personable and happy person. I think the love that he gives off to people that he’s around … he just makes them feel really comfortable. He has this infectious smile and a fun personality and I think the kids are just going to love him.”
Mitch, who drums for African dance classes in Steamboat Springs, said Abdoul will bring to Craig a different perspective from his village, childhood and world travels.
“He’s just got a lot of knowledge of the culture over there and I think it’d be interesting for people to learn about what goes on,” Mitch said. “He’s really funny, and just really nice.”
Doumbia will teach basic rhythms and drumming techniques, which will be easy to grasp for someone who has never touched a drum before, Mitch said.
Even those who don’t come away with a new sense of rhythm will gain insight into African music and culture, all while working outside of their comfort zone.
“People from all over the world often connect with this art form because it is earthy and appeals to our raw artistic core,” Lori said. “And I think it will be no different in Craig. I think people will connect with it because it’s not the same kind of music that most people hear and listen to that has written notes. This is a little bit more free. It’s improvised. It makes you want to get up and dance. ”