As co-founder of Nyodema I’m heavily involved with organising its annual festival held this year on Saturday 20th August in a lovely pub by the sea at Bognor Regis, West Sussex. I particular enjoy booking the artists and arranging the running order, however this is never with out it’s up and downs…

…so-and-so can only be there until such-and-such a time and thingyme can’t get there until after so-and-so o’clock but their display has to come before their workshop…

…on the day two artists get lost and one is going to be an hour late (oh heck! a quick re-jig of the line-up is needed).

It can get a bit tricky ensuring that the music ebbs and flows to create a vibrant day (without any long gaps between acts), ending in a crescendo of amazing music with everyone on their feet dancing and when the last act has played their final encore leaving the audience wanting just that little bit more.

Well that was the plan.. and thanks to everyone who played, sang, danced, sold raffle tickets, etc… this year’s festival went to plan (well, pretty much).

Slim Lightfoot's National guitar

It was,  in fact,  a really wonderful day starting on the verandah with rock n roll from Slim Jim and the Wildcards against a back drop of blue skies and the glistening sea. A variety of musical genres followed including Slim Lightfoot’s delta blues, an unplanned but very welcome guest appearance by two Gambian drummers, the beautiful voice of Daisy Mouatt, the outstanding medieval/Spanish guitar from Claude Bourbon,  the West African rhythms of the Nyodema Drummers and songs from around the world including traditional gospel from the Nyodema World Community Choir.  Morgana Villen Castro performed a stunning fusion of flamenco and belly dancing as well as holding a popular workshop. The children’s percussion workshop led by Chris Diallo from Hands on Skin brought out some fabulous young talent.

“Nyodema’s choir and drumming group are going from strength to strength. The weekly workshops held here in Bognor have proved a great success and both groups thoroughly enjoyed performing to such a receptive audience.” Said Geraldine Allchurch, the choir’s director.

The evening’s entertainment in the function room had everyone up and dancing. “What a great vibe – the whole day – then capped with Rattlin’ Bone’s feel from ‘The Big Easy’ ending perfectly with reggae from Planetman and the Internationalz!“ to quote Stewart Nicol, our fabulous compere for the day.

The raffle, stalls, workshops and donations collected throughout the day raised over £1,000. These funds will be used to provide children with insecticide treated mosquito nets and to continue developing the school in Dairuharu that Nyodema has built in one of Africa’s poorest countries.

“Nyodema would like to thank The Waverley and their staff, the ROX charity for the loan of equipment, all the artists, volunteers and sponsors including The Gambia Experience and everyone who contributed to making this a really wonderful day.” Nyodema treasurer, Shelagh Hamilton

And I’d like to add my personal thanks to everyone who made this such a special day. Thanks too for all the lovely comments on Facebook….”A great day of diverse and inspiring music – Thank You!” Seeing how much pleasure people get out of the day and, with the money raised, being able to continue with our work with schools in The Gambia, really does make all the hard work worth it. THANK YOU!

Now…  how can we make next year’s festival even better?

For more information please visit Nyodema‘s website. For photographs visit Nyodema on Flickr.

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