05 Sep Byggefest = Building Festival
Even before the holiday in Denmark, I had offered to do a Balafoon frame-making workshop during the Grobund Byggefest in Ebeltoft. Once we got there it turned out to be a 6 days, small-scale construction festival, with music; at most there were about 300 visitors. During the day, visitors set to work with all kinds of construction projects with wood. There was a big pile of timber sponsored by other festivals and DIY stores. There was an international volunteer group that was active during and around the festival. For example, they had sorted all the wood, stripped nails and screws and stacked it or put it together. There were mainly local groups / artists who also all came to play for free because of their connection with the organizing eco-village in formation: Grobund.
The Camp site
An adjacent old agricultural field had been taken into use for the campsite. There was still some grain with many herbs and poppies in between. Flattened and arranged according to fire regulations, here and there fire extinguishers and fire whips put away. Eventually the paths had to be mowed and a night fire watch set up. Sleeping on a layer of hay …
A loan was organized where you could borrow cordless screw-drill machines (25 pieces!), Saw tables, circular saws, large drilling machines and the necessary hand tools (if you had not brought them yourself). To borrow, you had to have a polaroid photo taken and hand it in. It was hung on the spot of the loaned tool. If you had brought it back you would get your photo back and you could hang it on a large column, waiting for your new borrowing requirement.
Some people had come up with a project that they wanted to implement. This provided the opportunity for others (without their own project) to join in and help. During the day it was around the former factory hall, with which the eco village was started, a bustle of DIY people with all kinds of wood projects. Large projects such as a terrace on the dike between the factory and the sea, a floating sauna, a pizza oven for the eco-village, floating stage parts were made. But also a figurehead of reed for a boat and a huge lantern-fish frame (such a fish who has a bait in front of his own mouth!). But there were also many smaller projects such as a chicken-laying loft, a guitar, a upholstered sofa, an oar, a cutlery drawer, everything!
My project: Balafon frame making
So my balafon frame also fell under the small projects. I had set up a nice corner where I could work with people who were interested. The first day some young people from the volunteer group were curious and so they helped me with the first measuring, sawing and sanding work. Later I got a few people who came to work regularly. I had good help from, among others, Teis, Benjamin, David and Severin. In the end I was able to finish almost two balafon frames with this group. I had brought gourds and sound bars so that we could actually finish them and deliver them as an instrument. One balaphone is left to use in the music center of the eco-village.
To present my ready made balafon
So while Karin went to do volunteer work in the kitchen and the bar, I supervised frame building and in the meantime did mini workshops playing balafon with (other) interested parties. I had brought my own large and two small balafones. The Danish culture is actively encouraged to keep alive, much more than in the Netherlands (where we have high expectations of our culture, but do not actively engage with it). Every morning a few came with keyboard, accordion and violin to accompany the singing of Folk-songs. The Danish “Blue book” was leading (also on website of course). When the first balaphone was ready, I also baptized this one time in the morning and had Awa Dabolé played by a group of young people that I had learned.
The bands that performed were all involved in one way or another with the Eco Village or the organizing duo Tore and Noa. The bands performed for free and of course had their own fans among the audience. A load of beach sand had been poured out in front of the stage where you could watch and listen to the bands. Or where you could dance with bare feet! Next year we will go again; Byggefest 2020 is from 13 – 18 July. But I also found a nice Afrika Kamp where I offered myself for a balafon workshop; www.utamaduni.dk/camp is from 18 to 25 July.
During the vacation, I had one more balafoon adventure; I met Kassim Keita, one of my teachers from Mali and watched play with the Danish-Malian group Faratuben. I found some of their playing days via the internet and there was one nearby during our stay; “Langå meets Africa”. We drove to Langå; turned out to be a small village where they were setting up a tent with a few people for the Africa event. Two bands with ties with this village showed up for a performance. Very small scale; there were no more than 40 visitors!
But Faratuben was there and Kassim played his balafon. We had a lot of fun there and Kassim and I chatted for a while … Next year he will be back in Denmark with Faratuben; I hope to see him again at a somewhat larger concert. Perhaps next year at The Grobund Byggefest?But also I have found the great Utamaduni Africa Summer Camp‘ from 18 to 25 July 2020. I offered myself for giving a balafon workshop there.