“I Love my Job!”

Michelle van Blommestein:

Michelle is a full time drum circle facilitator & teacher. She has been playing Djembe, bass drums & various types of percussion since 1998. Her solid foundations in Djembe came from her first teacher, Greg Stopforth. In 2001 she began facilitating interactive drum sessions for corporate team building events working with Eddie Bunting of Drums & Rhythm and Bevil Spence of Drumba among others.

 

She founded Naturali Catchi Rhythms in 2002 focusing primarily on the use of drums & percussion as a therapy tool to assist patients in their recovery process.

She has facilitated weekly sessions at Valkenberg Psychiatric hospital’s maximum & medium security wards and the occupational therapy department since 2005.

 She facilitates weekly group therapy sessions at Stepping Stones Rehabilitation centre in Kommetjie since 2004 working with addiction patients.

She has taught weekly classes at Waldorf School in Constantia, Synergy School in Sunnydale and the Noordhoek Monterossi Pre-primary. She facilitates workshops with underprivileged children dealing with broken homes, abusive peers, addiction & the emotional trauma that goes with it working with CASE in Hanover Park, Cape Town and the One Love Learning Foundation project teaching at Cavalleria Primary School, Kraaifontein.

 

She regularly performed with the all women performance group “Women on Djembe” and The Beat It African Music Ensemble playing at weddings, social functions and corporate events.   Her passion for drumming is evident & her wish is to share the empowering spirit of the drum with everyone she meets.

Tim Ramsden:

Drumming facilitator & teacher.

 

Dingiswayo Juma:

Master mbira player, craftsmen, teacher, drummer and percussionist from Zimbabwe. He was born into a family of traditional mbira players (his mother is a spiritual healer). Dingiswayo was also exposed to traditional styles of drumming at a very young age. Much of his percussive strength lies in his ability to understand and teach odd time rhythms. He has performed with artists such as Ephat Mujuru, Tute Chigamba, Oliver Mtukudzi and Musekiwa Chingodza. He has played and learned alongside Master drummers such as Afrika Kotei Djanie, Eugene Ansah and Atsu Dagadu. He teaches Zimbabwean traditional dance and songs as well as rhythm from West African countries.

Ronan Skillen:                                     Born in Northern Ireland, Ronan grew up in Germany, attending 3 major classical orchestras, philharmonic and brass, as a French horn player for 7 years. He Began playing Didgeridoo in 1997.
Ronan's first public performances outside the classical genre, were with master drummer Emmanuel Gomado from Ghana on a week long tour of Germany. After much self-teaching and further travels Ronan settled in Cape Town, and was part founder of Starkravingsane, a world music collaboration with a progressive new sound. With srs he recorded 2 albums over 3 years. he joined Drum Cafe in 2003 as part facilitator, Didgeridoo player for corporate functions, teambuilding and drumming workshops.
In 2003 having been interested in Indian music from a young age, particularly percussion Ronan spent 3 months in Delhi, India studying Tabla with Tabla maestro Ustad Akram Khan.
Since then he been exploring Indian percussion particularly as a fusion with western music and even combining Didgeridoo and Tabla both played at the same time.
Recently he has collaborated with a number of bands and individual musicians, such as: Starkravingsane; Dave Ledbetter; Tina Schouw, Buddy Wells; Dino Miranda; David Foster; Jan Krynow; Hot Water; Hot Water Bottle; MutiMen; Gavin Minter; Chris Tokalon; Steve Newman etc.

Janis Merand:

Janis has been working with djembe for approximately 8 years. She has had the privilege of being taught by a master djembe player from Mali, Sidi Sangare and always honours him as her teacher. He has given her many of the songs she in turn teaches her groups – songs that are centuries old and only recently have been recorded in print, as opposed to the oral tradition which djembe stems from.  Janis has broken with the tradition of djembe, however, as it is traditionally only the men who play.  Not only does Janis play, she has been acknowledged as a teacher of worth by master djembe players and she also works predominantly with groups of women. Janis leads the all-women performing group “Women on Djembe” playing West African songs, southern African rhythms, traditional compositions and much more!  She regularly leads smaller, focussed groups where the benefits of the songs learnt – all of which come from a particular social context - can be felt on a deeper level. The djembe has been a doorway to other African instruments for Janis and the start of a growing feeling of homecoming and embracing herself as a true African.

Kobus Conradie:                                    Kobus started playing Djembe and percussion seriously in 2004 when he joined Roots Rhythms drumming group in Noordhoek and has done several performances with this group. Drumming teachers over time includes Sidi Sangare, Ladji Kante, Michael De Wit, Janis Merand, Pierre Terblanche and Michelle van Blommestein. Kobus has helped Michelle with facilitation work at Stepping Stones and Valkenberg on an ad hoc basis. He has also participated in drumming facilitation and interactive work for the past 3 years.  He realized that his passion for drumming and his background in the corporate world of marketing and advertising is a perfect match when it comes to interactive work. Kobus resides in Noordhoek from where he runs his own Landscaping business.

Dave Ledbetter:

Of British extract and raised in South Africa Dave started studying the piano and guitar at age 14. Son of two professional musicians it was always clear that music would be his first and only choice. After finishing school he studied at The Jazz Workshop in Cape Town and then at The Jazz Faculty of the University of Cape Town. He has been active since 1982 and played in virtually every conceivable context imaginable. Recordings, TV, Radio, Cabaret, Live Theatre, International Jazz Festivals, Folk Festivals, Rock Festivals, Big Band. Orchestral work as well as soundtracks for movies. All the while the commercial and corporate work are ongoing. He has done two solo recordings and  group recordings and is regularly featured on original mainstream artistes work as either guitarist, pianist or vocalist and more often than not all three. He has played solo guitar, solo piano, solo entertainer whilst playing jazz and rock venues and teaching during the day.

 

He has played with Miriam Makeba, Ray Phiri, Manu Dibangu, Morris Goldberg, Darius Brubeck, Shawn Phillips, Vicky Sampson, Winston Mankunku, Amanda Tiffin, Basil Coetzee, Robbie Jansen, Louise Carver, Tina Schouw ,Sibongile Khumalo  Ezra Ngukana , Mcoy Murabata, Jimmy Dludlu to name but a few. He is an extremely versatile performer who covers every genre with consummate ease and professionalism. He is regularly called upon to contribute his talents to original projects as well as do regular radio and TV work. As a sideman he is in continual demand. His career highlights have included playing at the millennium concert on Robin Island for Nelson Mandela, playing on three North Sea Jazz Festivals, being nominated for two SAMA awards. He has entertained amongst others David Bowie, Bryan Adams, Jim Carey, Wayne Johnson, Roxette apart from former S.A president Nelson Mandela for whom he has performed many times including his retirement party.

 

His list of venues has included The Mt Nelson Hotel in Cape Town , The Cape Sun and Cullinan Hotels, The Green Dolphin, The Buena Vista Social Club and regular work at all of these . He has also spent time in the gulf performing at The Old Intercontinental Up on the tenth as both solo artiste and in band format. The Regency Hyatt in Muscat Oman. He even did a year long stint with legendary Middle East rock band The Sonic Avengers winning the battle of the bands award with them in Dubai in 2002 and playing at The World Rugby Sevens Finals the same year. He has been playing and living in Cape Town since his return from the gulf in October 2003.

Christopher Tokalon:                                                      Christopher is a musician, composer, performer, sound therapist and recording artist.  He has played sax and flute since 1979 in a wide variety of jazz  ensembles, musicals and cabarets, as well as being constantly involved in and performing local original music with bands and artists such as Peto, the Jazz Hounds, Steve Newman, Tony Cox, Drum Cafe and his own world music project, Soulbird. Also with the nickname the Marvelous Mouth he presents a one man comedy show entitled “Don’t Tune Me, I’ll Tune You”, in which he is known for his astonishing ability to mimic musical instruments, birds, animals and people in performance. He has developed a natural ability for overtone singing and creating evocations of natural sounds as part of a Sound therapy process.
 
Some 12 years ago, Christopher started specializing in Sound Journeys, a process where “passengers” lie down and receive a wonderfully calming, energizing sound bath.  The effect of this:-  a  cellular massage, is to shake loose stress and trauma and create a balance between body, mind and spirit.  Journeys can be done for groups or individuals and Chris has taken literally thousands of people on  transformational Sound Journeys.