Afro-Gaelic Fusion

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Over the course of their 13 UK tours, the Kakatsitsi Master Drummers from Ghana have made numerous visits to Scotland, performing at festivals and venues as well as teaching at schools across the country. Along the way they have met a number of traditional Scottish musicians and have made some initial forays into developing some musical collaborations with them.

In 1996, on their debut UK tour, Kakatsitsi performed at the Edinburgh Fringe where they were fortunate to meet Karen Marshalsay with whom they collaborated briefly at a series of performances in Brixton and elsewhere in London. In 2003, the drummers visited Dundee where they jammed with some local traditional musicians in a local pub before conducting a recording project in a local studio. On their many visits to the Orkney International Science Festival they have joined forces with local traditional trio Three in a Bar to perform short collaborative pieces at events during the festival and on a recent trip to Shetland they jammed with some traditional musicians in a bar in Shetland.

Drummers-Shetland-folk

While on tour in the Highlands in 2014 the members of Kakatsitsi were fortunate to meet local musician and activist Griogair Labrhuidh who invited them to perform at an event held on his croft. Kakatsitsi, Griogair and friends of Griogair explored some options, produced one very promising track (Oge – Cur Nan Gobhar) was produced which has received excellent feedback from programmers at the WOMAD and Sidmouth International Folk music festivals. Sadly the project was kyboshed when Griogair was recruited into the new Afro-Celtic Sound System. 

Drummers and Griogair (1 of 1)

In 2017 Indigenous People are looking to resurrect the Afro-Gaelic fusion project, working with both Scottish and Irish folk music partners. More info on who we will be working with will be available soon.

There will also be some overlap between the Afro-Gaelic Fusion Project and the Electro-Fusion Project, whereby for some audiences we will introduce some electronic beats and basslines to add weight to the African drums and to help move the dance floor for younger, more ‘up for it’ audiences.

Creative Ethos and Process

From experience, Kakatsitsi have learned of the importance of being conscious of the creative ethos and process and the role they play in shaping the nature and quality of the final musical product. It is therefore proposed that a number of different process are explored whereby the proposed fusion between the African and Gaelic music will be achieved.

For some tracks, the Ghanaians will take the lead and provide some rhythms, chants and melodies, either traditional or newly composed on to which the Gaelic musicians will then add either traditional or newly composed material. Similarly, the reverse can apply whereby the Gaels will start with either traditional or newly composed music and the Ghanaians will then add the rhythms and chants, traditional or otherwise.

An underlying theme of the proposed collaboration would ideally be one of cultural and spiritual re-discovery, exploring and sharing cultural forms that would otherwise be submerged under the tide of homogenization and cultural colonization that leads to minority cultures be neglected, ignored and ultimately becoming extinct. Such an artistic ethos fits comfortably with the prevailing cultural wind in Scotland in which the Scots are gaining an ever increasing degree of cultural self- confidence running parallel to process of political self-determination.

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Over the course of their 13 UK tours, the Kakatsitsi Master Drummers from Ghana have made numerous visits to Scotland, performing at festivals and venues as well as teaching at schools across the country. Along the way they have met a number of traditional Scottish musicians and have made some initial forays into developing some musical collaborations with them.

In 1996, on their debut UK tour, Kakatsitsi performed at the Edinburgh Fringe where they were fortunate to meet Karen Marshalsay with whom they collaborated briefly at a series of performances in Brixton and elsewhere in London. In 2003, the drummers visited Dundee where they jammed with some local traditional musicians in a local pub before conducting a recording project in a local studio. On their many visits to the Orkney International Science Festival they have joined forces with local traditional trio Three in a Bar to perform short collaborative pieces at events during the festival and on a recent trip to Shetland they jammed with some traditional musicians in a bar in Shetland.

Drummers-Shetland-folk

While on tour in the Highlands in 2014 the members of Kakatsitsi were fortunate to meet local musician and activist Griogair Labrhuidh who invited them to perform at an event held on his croft.

Drummers and Griogair (1 of 1)

Griogair Labruidh

Griogair Labruidh is a musician, a poet and a scholar. Living on a Croft in North Ballachulish he is passionate about music and Gaelic Culture and is currently undertaking a PhD at the National University of Ireland. An ambassador for all things Gaelic, he has two critically acclaimed albums behind him, building a reputation as a Gaelic poet and is a member of the brilliant Gaelic ‘super group’ Dàimh.

Griogair Labhruidh was brought up by Loch Lomond and belongs to the Labhruidh family of Ballachulish who were renowned in Scotland for Highland music. He was immersed in his family’s piping traditions from a young age and has for many years now, devoted himself to being an ambassador for the depth of the Gaelic tradition to which he belongs pursuing piping, singing, storytelling and his Gaelic Hip Hop stylings are fast gaining popularity at home and abroad.
Griogair Labhruidh


Griogair Labhruidh live @ Celtic Connections
Ross Saunders

Ross’ musical career began at age 10 after an impromptu ‘listening test’ in primary school resulted in 7 years of classical violin and piano lessons. Despite being so fortunate to obtain a decent musical education from an early age, music had always been a major priority in Ross’ life thanks to his father David’s impressively eclectic taste in bands. Through David’s endless musical boot camps, Ross incorporated many styles into his own playing; everything from progressive rock, to Scandinavian nu-jazz, to 70’s P-funk. Ross graduated from the B.A. Applied Music Course with Honours in 2005 specialising in bass guitar and recording and sound production. However, that was merely the beginning of his musical journey…

As of 2010 Ross has performed with many Scottish acts including ‘The Bluebells’, ‘Lou Hickey’, ‘Eoghan Colgan’, ‘Skerryvore’, ‘The Easy Orchestra’, ‘Federation of the Disco Pimp’, to name but a few. Through these projects he has supported the likes of ‘Martha Wainwright’, ‘Edwin Collins’, ‘The Cat, Empire’, ‘Nizlopi’ and ‘Imelda May’. Ross also edited, mixed and mastered Griogair Labhruidh and Doimnic Mac Giolla Bhride’ s acclaimed album ‘ Guaillibh ‘a Chéile ‘ in 2010.
Ross with Bass
Eoghann Mac Eunraig


Eoghann Mac Eunraig (Ewen Henderson) hails from the An Gearasdan (Fort William) and has been naturally steeped in the traditional music and Gaelic culture of the area from an early age. Now in his twenties, Ewen started learning the fiddle at five years of age and since then has mastered an impressive array of instruments, having had the privilege of learning from many of the true masters of West Highland traditional music, from Aonghas Grant Snr. on fiddle to Angus MacColl on bagpipes, whilst also being influenced by his strong family musical heritage. Over the years, Ewen has been fortunate enough to tour and play all over the world from Shanghai to the Isle of Skye with a host of top Scottish bands including world-renowned Battlefield Band.
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Duelling Fiddles - Battlefield Band, featuring Ewen Henderson, in Concert at the Music Tryst Festival 2010
Lea MacLeod

Lea MacLeod is one of the up and coming young musicians in the Highland scene. Hailing from Loch Aillse (Lochalsh area) and having family connections to the legendary Gaelic aural poet Murdani 'Mast' from Leòdhas (the Isle of Lewis), music is very much in the blood. Lea studied music in Benbecula College which had a huge impact on his music strengthening his 'Gaelic style'. He plays whistle, pipes and flute to an exceptionally high level and is currently undertaking a BA in applied music while continuing to teach and perform in Scotland and abroad.
Lea

Different partners will come together at different times, depending on availability and budget. For more information about availability of the different options, please contact us.

There will also be some overlap between the Afro-Gaelic Fusion Project and the Electro-Fusion Project, whereby for some audiences we will introduce some electronic beats and basslines to add weight to the African drums and to help move the dance floor for younger, more ‘up for it’ audiences.

Creative Ethos and Process

From experience, Kakatsitsi have learned of the importance of being conscious of the creative ethos and process and the role they play in shaping the nature and quality of the final musical product. It is therefore proposed that a number of different process are explored whereby the proposed fusion between the African and Gaelic music will be achieved.

For some tracks, the Ghanaians will take the lead and provide some rhythms, chants and melodies, either traditional or newly composed on to which the Gaelic musicians will then add either traditional or newly composed material. Similarly, the reverse can apply whereby the Gaels will start with either traditional or newly composed music and the Ghanaians will then add the rhythms and chants, traditional or otherwise.

An underlying theme of the proposed collaboration would ideally be one of cultural and spiritual re-discovery, exploring and sharing cultural forms that would otherwise be submerged under the tide of homogenization and cultural colonization that leads to minority cultures be neglected, ignored and ultimately becoming extinct. Such an artistic ethos fits comfortably with the prevailing cultural wind in Scotland in which the Scots are gaining an ever increasing degree of cultural self- confidence running parallel to process of political self-determination. Another potential theme informing the project could be one of eco-spirituality as this is a facet of the traditional spiritual music and dance that Kakatsitsi will be researching in Ghana before returning to the UK for their 2015 UK tour.

Education

In addition to the performance dimension of the project, we will also be involving Griogair in the educational side of the project, whereby Kakatsitsi will visit schools in the local authorities with whom they already have established working relationships from their many previous tours of Scotland.

Griogair will participate in the initial educational performance delivered to the whole school, showing the children a very simple Gaelic chant which can be sung in call and response with them as the drummers play a rhythm underneath. He will also play the pipes with the drums and explain to the children a little about the history of Gaelic music and culture and the importance of cultural history, tradition and heritage.

For the workshops, alongside Kakatsitsi’s drumming and dancing lessons, Griogair will deliver some simple Gaelic singing workshops in which he will concentrate on giving the children examples of the the most rhythmic Gaelic songs he has collected from the aural tradition. Simple vocables and nonsense songs with very easy words will expose the students to the deep musicality of the tradition in a very accessible manner. Even those with no previous experience of Gaelic vocal music will come away with an increased awareness of their own natural musicality, all through teaching methods that have been used for thousands of years in an unbroken tradition.[:]