Fall may still officially be a few days away, but it has definitely arrived here in Michigan. And what an incredible fall it is! For the first time in 40 years I am not in school but instead enjoying the best perk of a career in academia: a sabbatical! The purpose of a sabbatical is to give profs like myself some time off from teaching to pursue research. I’m really taking advantage of this opportunity and am busy preparing for exciting research trips to Uganda and India in October and November.
But I love teaching and just can’t stay away! I just finished my first of two residencies at the other OU (Ohio University - photo above), taking part in “Experience Percussion” with the Mark Stone Trio. I’ll be back again early next month to present the Embaire – Xylophone Music of Busoga as part of Ohio University’s “Global Excursions.” If you are in the Athens, OH area, my presentationwill take place on 10/8 in the Recital Hall and the final performance will be at Memorial Auditorium on 10/11. I’m also looking forward to doing some guest teaching while in both Uganda and India.
Before I take off on my big adventure, there are still a few more shows friends in Michigan can catch. This Saturday my steelband, Southpaw Isle, will be performing a 2pm FREE family concert at the Ann Arbor Library, Pittsfield Branch. Then the following Sunday, 9/28, I’ll be playing with the Scott Gwinell Jazz Orchestra as part of a special combined performance with the Motor City Symphony Orchestra at the Macomb Center. To kick off October, I’ll be joining the new group Spirits Rising, led by Joe Reilly and Allison Radell on 10/4, as part of the Native American Heritage Celebration in Detroit.
My friends in Uganda and India, I can’t wait to catch up with all of you! In Uganda, I’ll be hosted by Haruna Walusimbi; in India, I’ll be hosted by KN Shashikiran. Details on my performances and workshops abroad will be posted here once everything is finalized.
I’ve had a wonderful summer here in Michigan spending quality time with my family and playing festivals/parties with my steel band. While it was disappointing to have my trip to Ghana cancelled, as a result I was able to attend some very cool events at home in the mitten. Last weekend I played at the Magick Rhythm Fest. with my trio and attended the Rhyhm Bones Fest. in Grand Rapids. Both of these events were truly one-of-kind and now I’m a member of the Rhythm Bones Society :-)
As summer winds down I have great gigs coming up this Wednesday and next Wednesday. On 8/20 I’ll be playing with my trio as part of the Lathrup Village Concert Series. Then on 8/27 I’ll be playing in an all-star band led by Joe Reilly at the Detroit Zoo’s Wild Summer Nights Concert Series. I hope you can make it to one of these shows! For those who like to plan further ahead, Sept. and Oct. events are posted on this website.
Finally, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be leading an OU Alumni trip to South Africa in March. This trip is open to OU alum, OU faculty and staff, as well as “friends of the university.” So all my friends, you are most welcome to join. You can read all the details here and shoot me an email if you are interested in traveling to South Africa.
Enjoy these final weeks of summer!
I had a great week in NYC with my trio project. In addition to playing at the New School as part of the ISIM festival and at Somethin’ Jazz Club, we went into the studio to begin work on a new recording on the Jumbie Records label. I want to send a big shout out to Alan Grubner and Dan Piccolo for their awesome musicianship and for helping me to realize my musical vision.
This Saturday is officially “World Music Day”, an event now celebrated around the globe. To celebrate in Michigan, I have a series of events happening throughout the week. On Wednesday the Mark Stone Trio will be performing as part of the Lathrup Village Summer Concert Series at 7pm. Michele Ramo will join me on mandolin and violin while Dan Piccolo will join me on tabla, frame drum, and drum set for this free outdoor performance. Then on Thursday my student groups will be presenting their summer world music concert at Oakland University, performing music for the embaire xylophone and pan-round-de-neck steel drums. This concert is also free and will take place at noon in the Varner Courtyard outside of Varner Recital Hall. Finally, this weekend Regina Carter will be in residence at Oakland University together with the Oakland Faculty Jazz Quartet. On Saturday and Sunday we will offer Jazz Workshops in Varner Hall from 9am to 4pm. The workshops will include two days of activities including combo rehearsals, listening classes, African xylophone sessions and more at the bargain rate of just $20.
I hope you can celebrate World Music Day (Week) with me by attending one or more of these events.
Happy Memorial Day! I hope everyone is enjoying the start of summer. After the record-breaking winter here in Michigan we are lovin’ it :-)
This weekend, I will be hosting the 4th annual Sarovar Indo-American Festival at Oakland University. The festival kicks off with the incredible Trichur Brothers on Friday at 7pm (who blew me away when I heard them two years ago in India) and continues through Sunday. For the complete festival schedule click here.
Then, during the first weekend of June, my new trio will be making its NYC debut with performances at the ISIM Festival and Somethin’ Jazz. Our performance at the International Society for Improvised Music Festival will take place on Friday, June 6th at 2pm, New School University - room 613. The theme of this year’s festival is cross-cultural improvisation, a perfect fit for my group. On Saturday, June 7th I will be performing at Somethin’ Jazz with both Imaginary Homeland and my trio. Imaginary Homeland hits at 7pm, the Mark Stone Trio plays at 9pm.
If you like to plan your world music fix in advance, I my complete summer schedule is posted on this site. Finally, I have posted a video below of my recent performance with the Carnatica Brothers and the legendary South Indian musician Dr. M Balamuralikrishna for everyone to enjoy.
I absolutely love how music can transport you to another time or place. For the past two weeks I have been in India (even though the furthest I traveled from home was Cleveland.) I was transported to India through numerous rehearsals with my friends the Carnatic Brothers along with several concerts and workshops all culminating in a performance with the legendary singer, Dr. M Balamuralikrishna. It was a great couple weeks and my understanding of Carnatic music deepened considerably. I’m looking forward to actually traveling to India for more performances with these great musicians this November.
Now it’s time to return to my Michigan roots through performances this weekend with two of my favorite singer/songwriters, Joe Reilly and Lesley-Anne Stone, along with the wonderful Michigan jazz artists Marion Hayden, Gayelynn McKinney, and Alison Radell. We will be performing together this Saturday and Sunday in a group led by Joe at the Detroit Zoo’s Green Fest – two set both days (Noon and 2pm).
Then next weekend, Saturday May 3rd, I am thrilled to be part of the Downriver Day of Percussion. This all-day event will take place at Roosevelt High School (540 Eureka Rd., Wyandotte, MI 48192). Students from middle school through early college can register here to participate in the event. Registration fee is $20.00 and includes an evening concert. I will be presenting an embaire xylophone clinic at 10:55am and will be performing at the end of the day at 6:30pm. Please spread the word to curious young percussionists!
I want to share with you some of the wonderful music events that I will be part of in the next couple of months. In March, I will be in residency at both the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and the University of Michigan – AnnArbor. At the University of Wisconsin, I will be hosted by Alison Shaw and the UW Oshkosh Percussion Program for workshops on the East African embaire xylophone and a concert on the West African gyil xylophone. At the University of Michigan, my new trio will be hosted by Kwasi Ampene and the Center for World Performance Studies, presenting both classes and concerts. In AnnArbor, the Mark Stone Trio will be performing at the University of Michigan Museum of Art on March 13th and the Canterbury House on March 14th.
In April I will be hosting several incredible performances at Oakland University. During the first week of April, we will have the great Trinidadian jazz trumpeter and composer Etienne Charles in residence at OU. Etienne will perform on the annual world music concert on April 4thand with the OU big band and pan-jazz ensemble on April 5th. Later in April the virtuoso Indian musicians P. Ganesh and K.N. Shashikiran, known as the Carnatica Brothers, will be visiting our campus, culminating with a performance on April 19th.
Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. I enjoyed the Christmas break at home, spending lots of quality time with my little girl Ellery.
The concerts at the end of last year with Bill Summers and our presentation at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention were fantastic. You can view the full PASIC presentation here or if you just want to watch part of it, here is our performance of Twalibamukwano. Also, the prezi I presented at PASIC is here and excerpts of our concert with Bill can be found on my youtube page.
2014 is off to great start with Percussion Day at Oakland University this coming weekend and performances with Regina Carter and Biakuye the following weekend. Percussion Day is a free event hosted by Oakland University on Saturday, January 11 from 9am to 6pm. Register here and read all the details below. On Saturday, January 18th I will be performing with the Oakland Jazz Quartet, the Oakland Chamber Orchestra, and Regina Carter at 8pm in Varner Recital Hall. The concert will feature a new composition I just completed for gyil xylophone, jazz quartet, and chamber orchestra. The following Monday, January 20th, I’ll be celebrating Martin Luther King Day with my African percussion group, Biakuye, at the Ann Arbor Library. This all ages show is free and features my good friend Sulley Imoro, an incredible dancer from Ghana.
I have two shows this week at Oakland University with the amazing Bill Summers! Tuesday's faculty concert features Bill with the Oakland Jazz Quartet playing bata and Latin Jazz. Friday's concert features Bill with the Oakland University student groups Akwaaba (African Drum Ensemble), Ngoma (African Xylophone Ensemble), and Pan-Jumbies (Steel Band). Both concerts take place at Oakland University in Varner Recital Hall at 8pm. $14 - general admission. $8 - students.
Later this month I will be giving a research presentation at the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. I will be presenting the Embaire - Xylophone Music of Busoga, Uganda together with students from Oakland University. Our presentation takes place on November 14th at 2pm at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. This will be the first embaire performance at a PASIC so if you are at the conference please come and check it out!
I’d like to give a big thank you to everyone who came out to support the debut performances of my new trio last month. For those who couldn’t make it out (or if you would like to hear it again) the entire concert at Oakland University was recorded and has been posted to Sound Cloud. Enjoy!
This month Jumbie Records will be releasing a new CD by the NYC-based world jazz group Imaginary Homeland, which I have played in for many years. We will be giving our CD release concert at Trumpets Jazz Club in Montclair, NJ on Sunday October 20th with sets at 7:30pm and 9:00pm. I’m really proud of this new CD. Friends in NY/NJ come check it out.
Finally, if you are interested in joining me for a trip to Ghana next summer, I have two informational meetings this week at Oakland University: Wednesday 10/9 at 8pm or Sunday 10/13 at 4pm. Both meetings take place in Varner Hall room 134. Earn 4 undergraduate credits in International Studies or 2 graduate Music credits. Check out this Prezi I made of the program with photos from our last trip!
It’s been a great summer with lots of fun steel drum gigs and time spent with my beautiful family. I also taught my international studies class at Oakland University (Intro. to Africa) and in August was officially promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with Tenure.
I am happy to kick off the new school year with three exciting shows. On September 14th and 15th I will be debuting my new group, the Mark Stone Trio. We play at the Michigan Festival of Gourds on the 14th at 1pm with a workshop at 3pm. This is a very cool festival, which I also participated in last year. There are many artists on hand who make all kinds of things from gourds and proceeds support the Children's Hospital of Michigan Foundation. Then on the 15th the trio performs at Oakland University’s Varner Recital Hall at 4pm.
Inspired by my trip to India last November, the Mark Stone Trio uses a traditional Carnatic setup of a soloist with percussion and violin accompaniment. However, the group’s original music draws on a wide-range of compositional influences, including American jazz and African mbira/marimba music. In the trio, I will be joined by violinist Alan Grubner and percussionist Dan Piccolo, whose dynamic playing runs freely across musical boundaries.
The following Sunday, September 22nd at 4pm, the Southpaw Isle Steelband will be giving a special performance at Detroit’s International Institute with drummer Leonard King. The show will also feature a guest appearance by bassist Miles Brown. Rounding out the lineup are regular members of Southpaw, Miguel Gutierrez on percussion with Lesley-Anne Stone and myself on steel pans.
We will be performing with steel drum virtuosos Andy Narell and Liam Teague on the same weekend, April 12th to 15th. This is going to be an unbelievable weekend of steel pan music and everyone is very psyched to work with these two panmasters. On Friday, April 12th Liam Teague will be performing with Oakland University's Pan-Jumbies on the campus of OU in Varner Recital Hall, with shows at 10am and 8pm. Then on Saturday, April 13th the Southpaw Isle Steelband will be performing a 7pm show in Waterford at Community Presbyterian Church. And for the grand finale on Monday, April 15th. Oakland University's Pan-Jazz will be performing with Andy Narell, calypsonian Lord Relator, the Steelheads Steel Orchestra, and the MSU Jazz Orchestra on the campus of Michigan State University, concert to take place at 7:30pm at the MSU Community Music School. I hope you can make it to one or more of these great shows.
Thanks for supporting steel pan music in Michigan!
Happy New Year!
Wishing everyone a wonderful 2013. I am starting out the year with a performance by Imaginary Homeland at Somethin' Jazz in New York City followed by our annual Percussion Day at Oakland University. This year's percussion day features our OU percussion faculty along with guest artist Miguel Gutierrez and an evening concert with Southpaw Isle.