Drumming music in Iraq

Performance with an Hawaiian army Captain in Iraq

I am looking to form a rhythm band for performances around the Tri-State area (either to accompany bellydancers during their gig, or for live performances, such as renaissance fairs, clubs/coffeehouses, and local festivals.)

As I also sing (quite well, I might add), and having a passion for 80’s music (rock and hair bands, not just pop), I am also looking to either form or join a band which would specialize in 80s and 90s music, also in the Tri-State area.  Since I am a web designer, if we were to form a band, I could make a band website to advertise our gig schedule.  I write lyrics, so I welcome any collaborations, either with other lyricists or with musicians whose forte is melodies as opposed to lyrics.  Keep in mind that I also sing speak French and Spanish, so I could help bring some “foreign flair” to your songs.  Now more about my music history…

I have been playing music since I was a kid in France. According to family stories, I played Mozart on the piano. I also played violin while in France, and learned basic music theory. When I came to America, my first instrument was the triangle in Junior High school. Finding that instrument a bit ridiculous, I switched to the bass clarinet (as per the suggestion of my band teacher, who was really trying to pass it off to me since no one else wanted to play it.) Again, I didn’t stick with it, because it didn’t allow for much limelight.

Drumming music with Najia

With Najia, of Philadelphia

In high school, I took up trumpet, where I seemed to excel. I soon made first chair, playing both in the marching band and the jazz band. I remember my “final” for my freshman band very distinctly.  I played the Cantina Band piece from Star Wars on my trumpet, and when I was finished,our band teacher, Mr. Anders, said to me, “you’re pretty good, ever thought of going professional?”  I am not sure if he was kidding or not, but here I am, a professional musician (granted, not with the trumpet.)  I also joined the high school choir, and was heavily involved, making it all the way to State Competition (and getting an award for Who’s Who in High School Music, and my own recording of the final State Concert.) I could have made it to Regional, but as my father thought it was impinging upon my studies, I finally dropped off the scene. I was also in a lead role in the high school musical “Guys and Dolls,” playing a very thin and out-of-character Nicely Nicely. I even had my own singing solo, “Sit down you’re rocking the boat.”

I continued my music training at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana with a piano class which didn’t do much to refresh my memory of Mozart. I also took a voice class (opera), and having falling head over heels for the piano accompanyist, a cute tall redhead, I wrote her a French aria. Giving it to her led to one date, but not much more, as my social skills were not far off from that of a turtle. I also met a girl, Betsee Sadlier, who, with my luck, already had a boyfriend (a lyricist who had played at the Grand Opry). That didn’t stop me from writing her two songs, which I recorded in an amateur recording artist’s basement. Although I came up with the chord progressions myself, I wasn’t proficient enough to play on the recording. He did an amazing job on the instrumentals and background vocals (which were done on his synthethizer), and even came up with a great mandolin accompaniment. Unfortunately, I don’t remember his name, so if those songs ever get published, unless he sees this post, he isn’t getting squat as far as royalties (unless he decides to step forward and make himself known!) You can find these two songs on my youtube channel.

Drumming music with caleena

With Caleena, of Virginia

While I was at IU, I also learned drumming (djembe and doumbek.) Lee Guth, who was back then an optometry professor, also played the doumbek. He was dating my roommate, Kay Strauss (who was also a local painter, and from whom I bought a very nice painting.) He came one Halloween to play his doumbek for us, and I was so amazed with his performance that I ended up taking doumbek lessons from him with a group of other students. Sometimes, we were even lucky enough to have his ex-wife, a professional bellydancer, dance for us as we drummed. My first performance with him was in a Greek restaurant on campus. I fell in love with performing and have been playing drum ever since. I also took up playing djembe, and I have fond memories of playing djembe drum in IU’s Dunn Meadow on summer nights amidst tikki torches with other drummers as bellydancers would dance for us. I attended many drum workshops after that, and was lucky enough to attend one with World-renown drummer Ubaka Hill (and I had the pleasure of drumming with her on stage at the workshop’s final jam session.)

After college, I drummed for Fort Wayne, Indiana’s local YWCA, which hosted an African Dance Troupe led by Diane Wilson (who was also a cop in Fort Wayne), under the tutelage of Master Drummer Deborah Flye. We did several performances together, and I appeared in the city newspaper during a local festival. I also took up the Native American flute while in Indiana, which I still play passionately to this day. I have a fond memory of me dressed up in black jeans and a fringe Native American deerskin shirt and suede fringed boots, sitting on the grass tailor-style, and playing the Native American flute for passerbys. A little kid sat there and listened to me for over a half hour, and when I was done, he asked me “Will you be back next year?” I promised that I would, but unfortunately, thanks to my faulty memory and lack of follow-through, I didn’t come back the next year.

Drumming music with Jeehan

With Jeehan, of New York

Since then, I have drummed for several bellydancers, including Oasis Bellydance (Lafayette, Louisiana), Najia (Philadelphia), Jeehan (New York), Raja (New Jersey), and Caleena Janay (now Caleena Tarantino, Virginia). I also had the pleasure of drumming with Crispin Masuka, founder of Hope without Borders, at Ten Thousand Villages in an effort to raise money to ship books to schools in Africa.

I am currently hosting a weekly drum circle on Meetup, every Sunday at 6 p.m.  If you would like to join us, you can do so on our Meetup Page.  You can also find me every Tuesday at 9 p.m. at the Philadelphia Drum Circle in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia.