Among travelers, there is a simple understanding that every day you wake up in the morning not exactly knowing what today may bring.
On assignment in Kenya with Kiwimbi Global last August, it was my job this particular day to film and document a group of family members and friends demonstrating their craft of traditional clay pottery. Their location, a two hour 4x4 ride to a far-out-from-rural community in the Teso tribe region of Kenya. My group showed up and after brief handshakes and introductions I noticed instruments placed to the side. They were unlike any instruments I had ever seen before; I could tell they were handmade. Most impressive was the drum set; its drum heads were made out of either a cow or goat canvas. The “cymbals” were simply designed from a dozen or so bottle caps threaded together on a string, and then the whole piece was colored with local pigments. Their use and repurposing of the elements in their environment was clever, creative, and impressive! The main descriptive word I’d like to use, however, is respectable. Respectable because that is a cultural facet most of us Americans lost sight of long ago. All of this was so cool, but the most memorable part was the sound and energy of these potters, now I’ve learned musicians, as they performed! It was my goal to record some local music during my stay in Kenya to complement the Kiwimbi Documentary, but the amazing music these guys were playing, the setting of their village, the visuals of the instruments, AND a whole group of backup dancers created a scene that was just screaming MUSIC VIDEO! The South Teso Jazz Band was ALIVE and performing a set potentially for the first time to people outside their area and certainly the first time to Americans and Europeans. In addition, this is the first time EVER they are being recorded.
As a huge music lover I’ve been to a ton of concerts of all scales, however I can't think of a more pure live music experience then what happened that day: villagers coming together, building their own instruments, crafting them out of found and local materials, self-teaching and learning from one another, and then hearing the full, deep, and reverberating sounds of what all of that produces.. Amazing!
I woke up this day thinking I was going to see and film pottery, and then I fell into such a cool and memorable music experience. I had a blast creating what is, from a technical view, a simple music video, but the value here is much much larger. This video is the first time their music is being shared to the entire world, thanks to the internet, and that is beyond a cool thing in general, but especially to them individually.
It was a beautiful exchange of gifts. I am honored to have been a part of that exchange and I’d like to thank Kiwimbi for organizing the logistics to make that opportunity happen. I hope you enjoy their music and please do share. With the help of this exposure, it would be so cool to see The South Teso Jazz band get the chance travel and be invited to world fairs, festivals, and similar events. Not only to share their magical talents, but to have the opportunity to carve out a livelihood from their music. That would mean the world to them. Many thanks.
The excitement of the daily unknowns is the whole reason we venture out. This was the first project edited in the mobile studio of the Yeti Nest. Excited to see what the next day, adventure, and project will bring.