Today was a long, hot and busy day as we performed at the Celebrate Mooroolbark Festival. There was a Street Parade in the morning, a fundraising market stall during the day and then a stage concert to round out the day. Along the way we helped out Kofi with his tchembe classes.
The work began earlier in the week as we built a Pan Chariot to carry the pans for the Street Parade (having had disappointing results in earlier festivals with “around-the-neck” pans. After buying over 80 metes of dressed pine from Bunnings, plus assorted screws, wheels and other fittings, a start was made on Monday on the end frames. Progress continued over the week until a near-finished product emerged on Thursday, using recycled artwork from previous parades (Australia Day and Moomba). A few test runs showed that it could be assembled in 30 minutes, and dis-assembled slightly quicker.
On the day, things did not go quite as smooth, with over an hour required for assembly, meaning that we were still pushing a partially-completed chariot up to the start of the parade, after the first participants were ready to start. Then during the parade, we found that we could not move fast enough to keep up with the other parade participants, meaning that we let several overtake us to avoid a very long gap in front of us. We realised that there was a big difference in the speed at which we could walk (and keep playing) and the speed at which others were marching along in the parade. But it was good fun and we learned a few lessons which will guide modification of the design for the next time!
During the day, we again ran a market stall for PANZfest17 fundraising. Immediately behind our stall was Kofi Kunkpe, a djembe drummer from Ghana. He was running workshops and looking for participants, so many of the band were keen to join in. We had a great time, and Rita even took over from his tired-out son on the drums in the second workshop. The workshop sure showed that our djembe playing had come a long way from out initial workshops with Drummer Girl in 2010.
We closed the festival with last act of the day on the main stage. While the weather was turning cool by now with an approaching storm, and the crowd had dwindled somewhat, the advantage was that, after we no longer needed the mikes for vocals (so that the techie could start packing up), we had no time limit on our performance and could play acoustically for as long as we, and the audience, wanted. The acoustics on the stage were great and we played with lots of energy. We kept on playing as the crowd asked for more, but after about an hour, with sweat dripping off everyone, we called proceedings to a halt with a performance of Amazing Grace which initially silenced the crowd, and then had them up and dancing. A very satisfying performance.