37th Annual Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival
Los Angeles- Southern California Salseros had many options to move and groove this past weekend without breaking the bank.
I joined several hundred people from all over the Greater Los Angeles area at Watts Towers Arts Center, Saturday, September 29, 2018. Presented by Department of Cultural Affairs and Friends of the Watts Towers Art Center, the Day of the Drum Festival celebrated community cultures through music, dance, and inter-active performances.
The crowd and I came together for this popular festival that celebrates the role of drums and drummers in World cultures past and present. The drums are the heartbeat of the community and were on full display throughout the day long event.
Kamau Daaood and James Janisse served as Master of Ceremonies. The Day of the Drum Festival, as well as the Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival was dedicated to the life and legacy of Ndugu Chancler. Ndugu’s spirit was felt throughout the day, and the festival poster and program featured original artwork of Ndugu by Ramsess.
There was an educational component to each performance with a leader from each group explained a brief history of the music and culture to enlightened the crowd.
The day got under way with Xochipilli Aztec traditional dancing and drumming, with Huehuetl and Teponaxtle drums.
The stage was set and fully charges in preparation for the next performances. Kinnara Taiko is a high-octane Japanese drumming group from Southern California. The group is celebrating their 50th Anniversary. They performed several tunes, the English titles were “Conflict,” “Lion Dance,” “False Talk/Lies,” and “World of Delusion/Confussion.”
Garifuna Cultural Group vibrant entertainment from Belize. Their performance was steeped in culture and history. The drummer and dancers performed with exuberance and joy. They showcased hungu hungu, paranda, wanaragua with Jankunu Dancers and closed out their set with the contagious sounds of punta.
Tambor featured drums/rhythms from Africa to the Caribbeans. This tight group is led by Oskar Cartaya, popular, in-demand bassist, and consisted of Yonathan Gavidia-bongos, Raul Pineda-drums, Jonathan Montes-keyboards, Euro Zambrano-timbales, and Pepe Jimenez on congas. The group brilliantly showcased the rhythms of Bomba, Tambor, Plena, Rumba and Salsa.
Magatte Fall & Generation Percu kept up the momentum with a barn burning set of West African percussions of different generations. The group allowed the drums to do all of the talking throughout their set.
MAFLA- Music Alumni & Friends of Locke Association performed cadences composed by Ndugu for the Locke High School Saints. This was an emotional, spirit filled, thunderous tribute to Ndugu. The group consisted of Alumni from classes of the 1980’s through the present.
This served as a wonderful segue for the One For The Chancler/A Tribute to NDUGU featuring Rayford Griffin & Friends. The group consisted of Rayford Griffin on drums, Leonard “Doc” Gibbs-percussions, and Donell Spencer on drums.
Washington Rucker served as narrator as he gave an overview of Ndugu’s life and how he evolved and incorporated genres/styles of music in his career. Rayford Griffin & Friends performances put the spotlight on Ndugu’s splendid drumming styles.
The crowd and I had a great time at this day long celebration featuring international sounds of percussions in rhythms of Latin, Japanese, African, Jazz, Native American and other drummers.