Aug. 20, 2017
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Fara-Tolno-&-Jr-Company
Courtesy Michal Anna Carrillo

Local Musicians to Teach at African School

How Storming the Beaches with Logos in Hand members aim to help an African music school

August 10, 2017, 2:05 am

By now, Storming the Beaches with Logos in Hand’s sophomore album, Bailiwick, Refused, is out; the release show has been played; the SFR cover story has been written; and the response to it all has been wildly positive. For core members Luke Carr and Caitlin Brothers, however, their broader work has just begun.

For much of the rest of the year, Carr and Brothers aim to tour the album here in America—but, come January 2018, they’ll head to Guinea, West Africa, for a two-week cultural exchange with nonprofit school and community center, The Kissidugu School. Carr and Brothers hope to provide students and community members with training in tech and media in conjunction with their band, the school and Santa Fe-based nonprofit arts organization, Little Globe, where Carr works.

This training could include anything from photography and video editing to audio work, creating a social media presence and more. By the end of the trip, they’ll have produced, edited and completed promotional video material for the school to use. “We want to create both opportunities for the school and the students,” Brothers tells SFR.

While there, Carr and Brothers plan to study in West African drumming, sit in on dance classes and study with school founder and drum and dance master Fara Tolno. The music of the region informs the Storming the Beaches sound, and the pair wants to deepen their enthusiasm and appreciation. “An important thing about studying music from another place that’s not yours is to know your teachers and know who your teacher’s teachers are,” Brothers posits. “You trace the root system so there’s respect and understanding for who put in the work to make the music accessible.”

 
Carr visited Guinea once before, earlier this year. While Brothers was in Indonesia to expand her knowledge of gamelan (a type of Javanese or Balinese folk music featuring keys, percussion and reed instruments), Carr visited Guinea with Soriba Fofona, a West African drummer and member of ensemble drumming group Wassa Wassa. Fofona calls Santa Fe a sometimes-home. “Essentially, [Caitlin’s] trip inspired me to go,” Carr says. “I’ve never been to a place like that; I started to feel this sense of calm as soon as I was on the continent.” Carr attended a workshop run by Fofona and studied in djembe and djun djun drumming styles for a little over a week. Afterwards, the pair visited the Kissidugu School. “I was surprised to learn the music and the dance of Guinea and West Africa was more accessible here [in the United States] than it was there,” Carr recalls. “So this school is doing something that’s sort of rebellious.”

According to Kissidugu’s vice president and development director, Michal Anna Carrillo, Kissidugu’s mission is to hold tight to rooted culture such as dance, drumming and music, but also to serve the broader community with a pharmacy, community center and future plans for the purchase of land to serve as a dump—which Carillo says the area desperately needs. Further, she says, Kissidugu hopes to provide academic education when it officially opens its doors in 2020. “The disparity between our lives and the people of Guinea is so great, it’s shocking,” Carillo says. “It’s a place that’s hard, but at the same time, it’s beautiful; the people are vibrant and powerful; they’re present.”

Carillo hails from Hawaii, where she also founded the LavaRoots Performing Arts, an organization that aims to preserve native culture similarly to the way in which the Kissidugu School does. She first visited West Africa in 2012 after 15 years studying the music, dance and culture of the area. It’s then that she met Tolno. “I saw the need and I found the love and passion for the culture,” she says. “I thought I had it before, but I found out I really had it and I dropped in even more.” By 2014, Kissidugu had erected several buildings, owned their land and qualified for nonprofit status. Even as we speak, another building is under construction and will one day serve as housing for international students and/or teachers at the school.

In the meantime, there’s plenty that can be done to help, even from here in Santa Fe. Little Globe already has information on their site about the Kissidugu Media Project and, according to Carr and Brothers, it can be as simple as donating an old phone or laptop you’re no longer using. “We want to bring equipment to teach with and leave there,” Carr says. “If you have an older Mac that can maybe still edit video, that would be amazing, and … if we could even just have a couple of those and a handful of cameras, that would be great.”

Donations are, by the way, tax-deductible and ongoing indefinitely. 

 

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