Drum Festival Held in Memory of Nipsey Hussle

 Dr. Kahil El'Zabar (Courtesy Photo)
Dr. Kahil El’Zabar (Courtesy Photo)

Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival

By Ricky Richardson

Los Angeles- Few would argue that the year in moving to fast. We are already at the end of September. One thing for certain is the annual Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival, held the last weekend of September.

I joined several hundred visitors from throughout the Greater Los Angeles area as well a contingent of international tourist at the Watts Towers Arts Center Campus, on a gray overcast day. The cool weather finally caught up with the season.

The Watts Towers Day of the Drum was held on Saturday, September 28, 2019. The festival is presented annually by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and Friends of the Watts Towers Arts Center. The Day of the Drum Festival celebrated cultures through a wonderful showcase of music, dance and inter-active performances.

The large, multi-cultural crowd and I came together for this popular, unique festival that celebrates the role of drums and drummers in world cultures past and present. The drums are the heartbeat of the community and were on full display throughout the day long event.

James Janisse and Kamau Daaood paired up once again to serve as Master of Ceremonies for day one of Watts Towers Arts Center festivals.

The Day of the Drum Festival as well as the Simon Rodia Watts Towers Jazz Festival entitled The Marathon Continues-In Memory of Nipsey Hussle, one of our dedicated students. Collectors picked up the copies of the program and poster that featured the outstanding artwork by Aiseborn .

Each year, the Watts Towers Day of the Drum Festival featured and engaging and educational component of the program. A spokes person from each group explains a brief history of the dance, music and culture that added immensely to our enjoyment of their show.

The day got under with Xochipilli Aztec back by popular demand, showcasing traditional dancing and drumming with on the Huehuetl and Teponaxthle drums.

The crowd and I buckled our seatbelts in preparation for our day long cultural journey. The Korean Classical Music and Dance Company founded in 1978, under the direction of Dr. Don Suk Kim. Hundreds of years of Korean history was on full display during their time in the spotlight.

Mestre Amen Santo and Capoeira Batuque was next to take to the stage. This energetic group of musicians, capoeira’s and dancers left the crowd and I in awe with their jaw-dropping movements.

Dr. El’Zabar solo performance found him dazzling the crowd with his silky-smooth vocal stylings, scatting, and air-playing of the bass, trumpet and saxophone on one tune, and alternating on playing the kalimba, drum kit and Cajon.

Mandingue Empire is a fully charged, high octane group performing the best of West African drumming. The group is led by two-time Grammy-award winning percussionist Magatte Fall. Magatte Fall was awarded his Grammy for his score to Black Panther movie as well as the percussionist for Angelique Kidjo.

Marvin “Smitty” Smith and Black Diaspora Music concluded the Day of the Drum Festival by vibrantly painting a musical expression of the Black Experience. Their set brought back fond memories for those in attendance.

All Day Activities consisted of a Drum Circle Pavilion- Universal Drum Circle led by Matt Gibson III, Garden Studio-Tiling and Gardening activities, Inter-active events for Children’s, Tours of the Galleries, and delicious food options in the Food Court.