• 21 Aug 2010 /  General Blogging 1 Comment

    I have spent an incredible five days in Varberg, Sweden working with some of the most accomplished African musicians in the world to run workshops for students from Sweden, Iceland, Norway and South Africa.

    We all stayed in the most incredible accommodation, housed in the jail cells of a medieval jail at the Varberg Fortress.

    Jail Cells at Varberg Fortress


    Inside the jail complex


    My humble abode


    This was my view each morning:

    Here are some of the friends and colleagues that I was working with.

    Soryba Touray and Ross Johnson

    Soryba Touray is in my opinion one of the best djembe drummers in the world. He is a Master drummer from Guniea and has an effortless style of playing that is a pleasure to watch.


    Max Soumah and Ross Johnson

    Max Soumah is also from Guinea. He is an incredible dancer and teaches West African dance to people throughout the world. What really struck me about Max was his relaxed, friendly nature.


    Randy and Amy McIntosch

    Randy and Amy were really great people to connect with. The run an operation similar to amaAmbush in Boulder Colorado called Kutundara, where they teach over 200 students the Zimbabwean style of playing marimbas. I enjoyed many great memories with them, and really felt a part of their family.


    Julia Tsitsi Chigamba and Ross Johnson

    Julia became a close friend over the course of the week. All of the lecturers from Southern African spent a lot of time together. Julia is a master dancer, singer and instrumentalist from Zimbabwe. She is now based in the USA. It was really great to see her in action. To see her website, click here.


    Andreas Akesson and Ross Johnson

    Andreas is one of the most humble musicians you will ever meet. He is an incredible Kora player, and we were lucky enough to watch him perform on multiple occasions.


    Baboucar Camara and Ross Johnson

    Babucar comes across as an exceptionally powerful musician. He has a dark, deep African. He is a master Sabar drummer, and his performances are both rural and raw.


    Kaw Secka and Ross Johnson

    Kaw Secka is a great character. He is a master Sabar drummer currently living in England.

    These are just some of the great people that I had the pleasure of working with during my week in Varberg.

    The reason we were there was to run workshops for the students that had gathered from around the world. Zama and I were to run three workshops a day with each one being two hours long. The students ranged from complete beginners to professional African music teachers. This made each workshops unique and interesting.

    Each workshop was broken down into three sections, Marimba playing, drumming and gumboot dancing. Here are some videos of the results:


    The students were all very enthusiastic and motivated. It was a pleasure to work with them all.

    I would like to thank Peta Axelsson of Zimba Marimba Band for making the whole camp possible. She was the head coordinator, and driver of the whole project. She is an inspiration and mother figure to so many young musicians. It is incredible to work with her.

    Peta Axelsson


    My flights back were crazy crazy crazy. I have never experienced anything like my journey home. In total I flew over 20 000km. Thats the same as flying from the North Pole to the South Pole. It started by driving from Stockholm to Copenhagen.



    This was followed by a flight from Copenhagen to Beijing. I could not believe I was back in China and after clearing customs and immigration again, I had a 20 hour wait at the Beijing airport. I developed a sort of Airport Zen, where I learnt to be completely relaxed, let go of the concept of time, and live in the moment. It was great.

    I then flew from Beijing to Dubai – it is so hot there!. Then form Dubai to Johannesburg and finally onto Cape Town. It was so great to be home.

    I am home for around 7 days, then I turn around and fly back to Sweden to perform with our group of hand selected students – amaAmbush Abantwana. We will be performing the the Queen of Sweden in Stockholm.

    I will keep you posted.


    Posted by amaAmbush @ 7:41 pm

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