Hey Everybody!

Back from Dakar!

For those of you who weren’t paying attention, I don’t blame you. There’s a lot of weird stuff happening out there. I just got back from Dakar, Senegal, where I spent a month. Originally, I was full of ambition to forge ahead with my plans of recording a project, but quickly surrendered to the reality offered me. I ended up playing constantly, rehearsing and gigging with some of my favorite artists, like Alioune Mbaye Nder, Sidy Samb, Assane Mboup and Mapenda Seck, controversial brother of Thione Seck. I even made money, getting decently paid for a couple of gigs. I toured to Kaolack and Mbour with Nder, and just like at home, I didn’t really see much of any of the places I traveled to while touring, except the nice scenery on the way. Mbalax is the most incredible music, and considering Senegal is one of the few places in the world where you can play it, I was in heaven.

Patricia Tang, who teaches at M.I.T. And wrote “Masters of the Sabar”, an excellent book on Senegalese music and culture, gave me a couple of referrals.
I hooked up with Ibou Mbaye, who was just what the doctor ordered. A working musician with a car! He plays keyboards, and is one of the most sought after “Marimba” keyboard players in Senegal. Because playing acoustic Balafon or “Marimba” instruments is impractical in today’s electronic reality, the Senegalese have developed a system of converting old Yamaha DX-7’s into modern day substitutes, programming a distinctive sound that they all use, all the way up to Youssou Ndours’ Etoile de Dakar band. It’s an amazing sound, and live, it vibrates throughout your whole body.

Wendy joined me after a couple of weeks, and although it was hard to adjust after playing all the time, I managed to go do some touristy stuff with her. She came with us to Mbour for the New Years’ gig with Nder, then after we saw Goree Island and a few other interesting tidbits.

Anyway, I could write a book. Dakar is beautiful and completely screwed, all at once. A shack next to a 3 story, luxurious looking building. A horse pulled cart, Borom Sarret, next to a new Mercedes SUV. Beautifully dressed women artfully dodging the raw sewage being splashed by taxis which navigate the cracks, potholes and sand that fills the streets. Another unexpected surprise was a contact that came from England, telling me about a harmonica school in Dakar. Harmonica players seem to permeate every corner of the world! We are a determined bunch! Jean Dagba runs a school out of his classroom in Grand Yoff, Dakar, and I was asked to distribute some funds to him and his students. Although I was poorly prepared, I still managed to leave a bunch of repair tools and supplies as well. There should be some Youtube footage shortly.

My Wolof isn’t much better, but I speak bad French much more fluently now…. I’ve posted some photos and stuff here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/damienmasterson/sets/72157612533351630

I can’t wait to go back!!!!!! I still think the Youssou Ndour tribute album would be a success, but I guess it’s not in the cards right now. As they say in Dakar: Inch’Allah!

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Another DME gig coming up…. You decide!

Dear Friends and Supporters:

As many of you know, I have the Damien Masterson Ensemble, which recently premiered its concert program all around the Bay Area to excellent advance press, reviews and endorsements.  For a quick overview: http://www.princesf.com/damien/

We’ve just been given an amazing opportunity to present the show, cabaret style, in a delightful, antique filled restaurant in downtown Redwood City: http://www.angelicasbistro.com/  To make the occasion more of an event, we want to use the occasion to celebrate the release of our debut CD!

Ken Malucelli, who wrote DME’s show and manages the group, recently attended an event there and was very impressed with the operation, which also has received excellent reviews.  There is virtually nothing comparable to this place in the Bay Area.  With seating for 100+ diners, an elevated stage, lights, sound system, etc., it’s a true dining-&-listening experience.

Events includes 3-course, prix-fixe meal ($30, not including beverages, tax and tip), plus show ($20 cover, given entirely to artist).

The genial owner, a solid supporter of the arts and local artists, offers the space rent-free to artists who can guarantee a minimum of 65 paying attendees, and this is where you come in:

As there are four of us involved in DME, each of us would be responsible for assuring at least 16 attendees, via advance deposit of just the $20 cover charge.  The restaurant tab would be presented to diners following meal service.

In order for us to secure our date, Saturday February 21, and for the restaurant to send out its own e-mails, press releases, plan the menu and list the show on its Web site, we need to indicate we could absolutely guarantee our 65 paids by collecting the $20 cover charge deposits in advance, by January 31.  You might also consider inviting your Bay Area based elder relatives, as this is a show they would thoroughly enjoy.

Dinner seatings begin at 6:00; show starts at approximately 7:30.

Please let me know, ASAP, if you can join in the fun.  We can promise you a great evening of food and entertainment.  The show is really something very special and we are very proud of it. Make your $20 deposit checks payable / mailed to: Prince/SF Productions, 1450 Southgate Ave. #206, Daly City, CA 94015-4021.  Contact:Ken@PrinceSF.com.

Thanks very much for your consideration and support.  I look forward to your responses!

P.S. If you would like to help us spread the word further about this event, please feel free to forward this e-mail to your own friends.

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Skool of Harmonica

The harmonica classes begin at the Jazzschool this Saturday, January 17th. So far it looks like we have enrollment for the beginning and ensemble classes to happen! Our ensemble class last semester was a lot of fun, and we had a cool concert at the end of the quarter, featuring each of the different students and teachers.

If you haven’t checked out the Jazzschool yet, I highly recommend it. It’s an amazing place that needs to be supported by everyone:

http://www.jazzschool.com/

http://www.jazzschool.com/html/classes_harmonica.html

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There’s so many other things to report, but I’m tired and have a lot to catch up on. The new C.D. Is coming along, and will be released sometime soon, Inch’Allah! O.k., I have to stop saying that! Anyhow, this will have to do for now…

Damien Masterson http://www.damienmasterson.com
or enter my name in any search engine

http://www.myspace.com/damienmastersonmusic

http://cdbaby.com/all/damienzm

415 305 7138 dzm@damienmasterson.com
Damien Endorses Hohner Harmonicas and Audix Microphones