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From The Morning Call

Rhythms rowdy and soothing at the Great Djembe Jam

By Jodi Duckett
Of The Morning Call

''If you have a drum, please play it,'' Moe Jerant told a crowd gathered on a Sunday afternoon at Mayfair's Lakeside Stage in 2005. ''If you have hands, you can clap. If you have feet, you can stomp. … We're going to kick it and have a party.''

Apparently they did have a party — a Morning Call reporter called the Great Djembe Jam featuring Jim Donovan of Rusted Root and the Lehigh Valley Drum Circle ''the musical hit of the day.''

Donovan won't be leading the Great Djembe Jam party this Saturday — Jerant, leader of the Lehigh Valley Drum Circle, has the honors. But she expects it will be the same good time.

Nearly two dozen members of the drum circle — essentially Jerant's world percussion students — will perform rhythms rowdy and soothing. Most play djembes, those goblet-shaped hand drums with goatskin heads that hail from West Africa. But at the rear of the stage will be a grouping of djun djuns, the mother drums that lay down a foundation rhythm.

The hour-long jam will include ''rhythms'' such as ''fanga,'' a welcoming rhythm, that includes singing by Jerant in a kind of call-and-response format. Another rhythm is omalarasu, a stick rhythm that results from players using a hand and a stick instead of two hands.

''Most of it is African music. What isn't has an influence from the African culture,'' says Jerant.

Hopefully, she says, the drum circle members won't be the only ones drumming. Audience members are encouraged to bring drums and participate, hence, the word jam.

''It's kind of a performance, kind of a drum circle. There are places in the program where I will specifically ask them to do stuff.''

There will be lots of room for dancing and shaking and whatever.

However, extra drums will not be available. What will be available are little shakers, which will be given out as a kind of promotion to advertise the Lehigh Valley Drum Circle's new Web site at , which launches on Saturday.


Copyright 2006, The Morning Call

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Maureen 'Moe' Jerant * (610) 428-0544
Lv Drum Circle  * P.O. Box 541, Bethlehem, PA 18016