As the year draws to its conclusion, it’s a good time to look over what MaSamba Samba School did in 2011, what music we played, who we worked with, and who we partied with!
This ‘round-up’ blog is not written in any particular order of preference, and we welcome your own comments to complete the story!
The Boys Are Back In Town
For a third year in a row, MaSamba independently developed a full pageant/parade show, this time based on the life and work of Phil Lynott. 2011 was the 25th anniversary of Philo’s untimely death, and we decided to celebrate the great man by bringing to life 5 classic Thin Lizzy/ Phil Lynott songs, in a show that was a mixture of a parade and a stage show. The funding came from Dublin City Council, Universal Music (Ireland), and through a campaign on the fund:it website, which allowed people to provide small levels of sponsorship for the event. Nearer the time, MaSamba members organised an incredibly successful table quiz to make up the shortfall in funding.
The show was an opportunity to work with several partners to develop the show, and ‘The Boys Are Back In Town’ involved significant inputs from Bradog Regional Youth Service, Sphere 17 Regional Youth Service, Remembering Lizzy, and of course, the Brasilian population of Dublin, organized for us by the ever-dedicated Kelly Baldonado.
Showday was Saturday August 20th, and we had the run of the Grafton Street area for the early evening. The sun shone, the band rocked, the dancers looked amazing, and the audience was fantastic – all in all, a great day in MaSamba’s history!
A video clip of the action on the day is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8irVHn46fC8
There is a photo gallery on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150322754437801.364924.75186972800&type=3
A blog about the development of the project, and a full thank-you list is here: http://www.masamba.com/category/projects/boys_are_back_in_town/
Chicago/Evanston/Kenosha – October 2011
We have been in regular contact with Chris Hasselbring and his group Evanston Escola de Samba since early 2010, when Simeon stopped off in Chicago for a couple of days. In 2011, Culture Ireland gave us a grant to bring a small band to the Windy City for a week, with a programme of workshops and a showcase performance at the Chicago Brazilian Music Festival.
In mid-October, 10 brave souls ventured to the US for an unforgettable week of samba, hot tubs, samba, shopping, samba, meeting new people, samba and, eh samba! All the events went incredibly well, the Americans seemed to really ‘get’ what MaSamba is about, and before we left, there were already discussions about how we can repeat the experience some time in the near future.
There is a clip of us performing ‘Oxossi’ in the Irish American Heritage Center here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_x-Mx9dxtpM
There is a Facebook gallery of the trip here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150375853047801.375880.75186972800&type=3
The blog about the trip is here: http://www.masamba.com/category/projects/chicago-2011/
This year saw the swansong of our highly successful youth group, which ended in a very clear point in time with a weekend workshop with master-drummer Dudu Tucci at the end of the May.
The group members had basically grown up, and as members went off to college, got jobs, or developed other interests, we were finding it harder and harder to get the group together for regular rehearsals and gigs, we decided that it would be better to end on a high, than just let the group fizzle out, and this coincided nicely with a piece of funding we had received from the Arts Council under their ‘Young Ensembles Scheme’. The project revolved around the group learning some new skills in notation and technique, and using those skills to develop some new music with Dudu Tucci.
Most members of the group were there, with people even flying in from abroad to join us, and the weekend was a great success, with three new pieces of music being developed to almost performance standard.
It was very sad to realise that this was probably the last time this amazingly-talented group of people would work together, it was a very positive way to finish 11 years of work to build MaSamba’s youth wing.
We must especially thank City of Dublin Youth Service Board for their sustained support of our youth work.
All is not lost, though, and in November, we began a new series of sessions with mainly local children between the ages of 7 and 15. Some of these children have been involved in previous workshop projects of ours, so the work has been going very well. We are confident that, in a couple of years, we will have another amazing youth band out there on the streets of Dublin!
This work is also supported by City of Dublin Youth Service.
Partnership with Contemporanea
2011 saw a further cementing of the strong bonds between MaSamba and the Contemporanea Music factory in Sao Paulo, Brasil. The Contemporanea brand have endorsed MaSamba for several years now, and have been incredibly generous to us, both in terms of the supply of free or very cheap instruments, and also in terms of support and advice on all aspects of our work.
This year, we were delighted to receive a full set of samba reggae surdos to be used as part of our Bloco Afro Brasil street pageant. The drums look and sound great, and will probably be used for all our street parades from now on, as they are much easier to carry than our older, full-sized drums!
In December, we were delighted to delighted to hear that Music Network had awarded us almost €3,000 to buy cases for all these new drums, under the Arts Council Music Capital Scheme! So, not only do we end the year with some great new instruments, but also top-quality cases to protect them!
With the recession in full swing, the opportunities for gigs have definitely reduced in quantity, but thankfully, not in quality! Without picking favourites (that would be rude), it’s worth noting that we travelled the highways and byways again this year, reaching the four points of the compass, and had some very interesting bus journeys along the way!
We have gradually built up our workshop capacity over the years to the point where we couldn’t get much busier, without developing cloning technology. In keeping with our community arts roots, we have been working in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country, including Ballymun, Clondalkin, Crumlin, Darndale, Smithfield, the Border region, etc, etc. In 2011, we delivered c. 616 workshops
2011 proved yet again that an up to date website is totally vital, and thankfully for us, we have several web-savvy people in the band who consistently keep us ‘on-message’ online!
This year, Aoife Ní Chionnaith, pulled out all the stops and completely re-built this site on the WordPresss platform. It’s fantastic that we can update almost every aspect of the site ourselves, and bit-by-bit, we are improving the content to match the quality of the design!
While MaSamba is a registered charity, it doesn’t stop us being asked to help other charities and ‘people in need’ out from time to time. If we have the time, and if the band agrees it’s a worthwhile cause, we only too willing to do our bit to help. This year, we worked with Aware, the Niall Mellon Trust, and the Calcutta Run, and we hope that our efforts made a positive impact for those great causes!
MaSamba is a really small organisation, and the only way we can achieve all the great projects we do is through a process of partnership with others. This year, as always, we were lucky enough to work with some amazing people and organisations, all of whom made a big difference! So, in no particular order, we’d like to thank the Community Services Programme (Dept. of Social Protection), Culture Ireland, City of Dublin Youth Service Board, The Lord Mayor’s Office of Dublin City Council, Dublin City Council Arts Office, Dublin City Council Events Unit, The Arts Council, Music Network, Universal Music (Ireland), Fund:it, Evanston Escola de Samba, Orquestra de Samba, Kelly Baldonado, J.P. Albuquerque, Drogheda Samba Festival, Ballina Street Festival, Claremorris St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Virginia Pumpkin Festival, Beat Initiative, Smiley Bolger, Jim Fitzpatrick, Philomena Lynott, Mullally Coach Hire, Martin Staines, SPADE Enterprise Centre, Dublin City Business Association, Contemporanea Instrumentos Musicais, Soar Valley Music, Liverpool Drumsticks, Niall Gregory and Cachimbo, Dudu Tucci and the Percussion Art Centre, Berlin, Temple Bar Cultural Trust, MaSamba’s Board of Directors and most importantly, the MaSamba members who come together on their own time every week to make all of activities happen to such a high standard!