African drummer at park concert
Osubi Craig and his African drummers move the Morgan Arts Council's free summer concert series into Berkeley Springs State Park on Saturday, July 14 at 5:30 p.m. The Ice House is the rain location.
Craig's troupe begins the concert by welcoming a parade of local drummers from the daylong "Hammer In" at the Ice House. Craig recalled the traditional association between drummers and blacksmiths. "The origin of the popular djimbe drum centuries ago was linked with the development of blacksmiths," explained Craig. "While the metal for the drum rings was being fabricated, the djimbe player would play for the blacksmiths." "Hammer In" organizer and curator of the All About Metal special exhibit at the Ice House Gallery, Mark Schwenk confirmed the relationship. "We scheduled the "Hammer In" to happen while the African drummers were here."
During the opening set of Saturday's concert, Craig demonstrates and invites audience members to play the troupe's various drums. The music performed is a fusion of traditional African rhythms layered with Afro-Cuban and Latin undertones as well as derivative jazz and R&B funk of the African-American culture. Craig and his troupe present history and folklore along with the dancing, songs and drumming.
"Craig is praised for his skills as a teacher," said Gordon Macleod, organizer of the concert series, "making his hands-on workshop at the beginning of the concert an important part of the experience. Since part of the MAC mission with the concert series is to bring music not usually heard to Berkeley Springs, this is the third season we've had African musicians," said Macleod. "It was a bonus that it could build on the "Hammer In" earlier in the day."
The "Hammer In" features several metal workers taking turns demonstrating with forges and other equipment ways of working with metal from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Cultural Park at the south end of the Ice House. As part of the demonstrations, the metalsmiths work to create a special wall piece that will permanently attach to the Ice House. "At 4:30, local drummers pick up the rhythms of the forges, drum along for about half an hour then, like pied pipers, lead folks over to the concert," explained Macleod. "This should go well with the stilt walker that is part of Craig's troupe."
The MAC Summer Concerts in the Park are sponsored by Carl M. Freeman Foundation. Additional funding for the free concert and the "All About Metal" gallery show is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, West Virginia Commission on the Arts and local hotel/motel tax revenues.
This concert only is also supported in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour, a program developed and funded by the Heinz Endowments; the William Penn Foundation; The Pennsylvania Council of the Arts, a state agency; and the Pew Charitable Trusts. PennPat is administered by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.
For more information about the Morgan Arts Council and the calendar of upcoming concerts call 304-258-2300.