Saturday, August 9, 2008

Zimfest 2008

I just returned from a tour of the USA, part of which I accomplished on a Greyhound bus, not the most comfortable way to travel, but I made it where I was going. My goal was to see my daughter Nefertiti graduate from high school and at the same time empty my storage unit in California. I relocated 2 years ago and had left most of my belongings in storage.

This seemed like a simple task. I had no really urgent commitments back here in Ohio and I gave myself about 3 weeks to accomplish my tasks and return to Ohio. But, somehow fate was not with me and it ended up taking six weeks to return to Ohio. All in all it wasn't a bad trip, but my money was stretched tighter than a drumhead. That coupled with the fact that the Mississippi river flooded from Wisconsin to Missouri not only delayed my trip it also forced me to take some unforeseen detours, which ended up working out in the end.

My first detour was to Tacoma, WA. The idea was to go to the Zimbabwean Music Festival 2008 (Zimfest) and at the same avoid all the flooding in the midwest. I figured that the flooding would be in the lower Mississippi by the time I left Tacoma and I'd have no problem making it back to Ohio. As it turned out that was correct and I got to go to Zimfest for the second time.

It was a great weekend. As a matter of fact it happened on July 4th weekend. This is kind of unusual, I'm used to Zimfest happening later in the summer, but apparently it can happen at different times of the year. There was a full schedule everyday, I sold Dezes (gourd resonators for Mbiras), hosho (gourd rattles) and my No-burn Incense during the day and enjoyed the music at night.

Zimfest is a round the clock festival, with musicians performing on and off stage day and night and teaching workshops during the day. It's got to be one of the most unusual festivals in the country. For music lovers its absolutely fabulous.

The musicians ran the gamut from novices to seasoned professionals. Many of the most knowledgeable musicians were from Zimbabwe and not only taught workshops, but performed, as well. The thing I like about Zimfest is that you see someone on the stage and then you're sitting down eating lunch with them chitchatting. The whole line that's drawn in the sand between the musicians and the audience is non-existent. You can converse and share knowledge in a relaxed and unpretentious atmosphere.

Highlights of the show were the 3 groups led by Sheree Seretse, which included a children's group known as Shumba; a new group of semi-professional musicians Zambuko and her main band of professional musicians Anzanga.

There were so many other groups there that I could not even begin to mention them all, but some that you may recognize are Chinyakare, Boka Marimba, Gwarira Enharira and Kutsinhira. I really liked Boka's singer. She sounded something like Miriam Makeba, which is something of a feat, since she's from the U.S. Chinyakare featured Russ Landers and Ronnie Daliyo on Mbira and was in the groove, as usual, although they were missing their former featured dancers. Russ started off the first night with some lovely Chipendani (mouthbow) playing and simultaneous singing.

In the end many of the featured performers came together on stage for a grande finale that was awesome. I've placed a sampling of the performances on Youtube, just enough to give you a taste of Zimfest 2008. Check it out for yourself and give me some feedback.

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