Give Me A Beat
By Kate Lundquist
Dance to the rhythms at the inaugural Asheville Percussion Festival
When a 33rd generation djembe player from Ivory Coast, a specialist in South Indian percussion, and a crowd of ready listeners and dancers come together, you can bet it's going to be a thundering comotion of heart-thumping activity. Percussionist and music educator, River Guergarian has created this rhythmic junction with the inaugural Asheville Percussion Festival, happening this weekend, June 8-10, at the Creative Technology & Arts Center in Asheville.
The music experience brings together 12 local and regional masters of rhythm, including Jamey Haddad, one of the world’s foremost jazz percussionist’s who's played with the likes of Paul Simon and Yo Yo Ma, and David Cossin, who performed last year with STING. Guergarian and other world-renowned percussionists are preparing for the festival during an artist retreat this week. They’ll be offering 25 classes, ranging from introduction to conga to advanced doumbek techniques. Extra activities for the weekend include a drum swap, instrument sale, local food by Juan Comodo, morning yoga classes, satellite concert at Creatures Café, a collaboration room for teachers and students to jam together, and opportunities for private lessons. “I wanted to create an environment for everyone to share ideas and bring together different traditions to make new works of music and art,” Guergarian says. The festival presents live performances Friday and Saturday evenings.
Asheville is taking a step in the right direction, believes Guergarian, who is directing the festival. He would love to see this community of drummers and percussionists weave together a solid framework for creativity and friendships. We could watch this event grow, not only in Asheville but also around the world, he says. “There are creative forces all around the country. We want to bring it all here to Asheville.”
Asheville Percussion Festival
Workshops 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Concerts 8 p.m.
Creative Technology & Arts Center
90 Zillicoa St., Asheville
$35 per workshop, $15 per concert, $250 for weekend, $75 for meals