Toumaranke Recording Project Diaries. The Day Before Leaving.

Thursday 27th November 2014

IMChug It’s very nearly the actual end of this visit, back to England tomorrow. The recorded Toumaranke files are safely there already with Martin. All the kitchen equipment, the big pots/bowls/cups/cutlery/big flask and so on, is packed up and back in storage. Most of the instruments are there too, just 2 balafons left here with us.  I was hoping to leave the laptop we used but Martin had to take it back for some technical reason I didn’t fully understand. This means Moussa is without an operational laptop, Kossy’s still works but neither M or Oka now have one that’s functioning. One of the bikes is pretty much finished too – and I can’t do anything about either of those things, We’re still at the lodge as Maty said it was ok to stay a few more days.

We’ve given Maty one of the ‘demo’ CD’s for the lodge  because Sino, one of the 3 tracks on it, has a thankyou to the lodge and the boys names on it. I’ve put in on Pappy’s tablet twice, he came to specifically request it, then deleted it by accident later. He’s keen to have it because he’s very fond of Moussa and particularly happy that it’s Moussa saying his name in the recording. There’s a little bit of spoken Mandinka in the track that says something along the lines of “Pappy, Ebou, aren’t you out of bed yet?” which is intended to be funny as everyone know’s how difficult it can be to get boys up sometimes!

These last couple of days have been bittersweet as the last days always are. We’re here with access to a working shower, water from a tap (it’s pumped from the well so you shouldn’t drink it ‘straight’, although most of the staff do and we do sometimes) flush toilet, electricity and all that jazz. This will make going back to England less wierd but will make Moussa’s move back to sleeping in either the storeroom or the Practise Place (which the band are still in despite the ‘split’ and the protestations by what I now call in my head ‘the gang of 3’ that they have a workshop in Brufut) starker. He a will be sleeping alone in a room with no ‘mod cons’, where going to the loo means going outside with a torch and checking carefully for snakes. I will dissapear into the other part of my life which he knows nothing about and he’ll be ‘stuck’ as he calls it; and he is, if I can’t bear the seperation I can get on a plane (not currently with my credit card maxed but it’s at least an option sometimes).  I can do something about the situation, he’s totally powerless.

The tensions in the band remain unresolved – Oka will go back to his place in Sanchaba, Kossy too, the gang of 3 are going to borrow some of the tents (we have 3 tents in various states of repair) and go to Brufut to start househunting.  I’ve done some flyers and it’s agreed that M will go round the hotels/restuarants etc… and if they get a contract they’ll play together. Things are sort of patched up but we’ve got no video material other than the footage I’ve got of us actually recording.  As a group they haven’t been back here and we haven’t been to the practise place. Oka and Kossy have been to visit at various points and it still feels very much like a split into ‘two sides’.  I am aware that if there was suddenly some more money to do something or other then loyalties might very well change, but there isn’t. We lost a potential Toumaranke member early in the year on the same kind of grounds; he was wanting life to improve fairly dramatically having thrown in his lot with a mate who has a ‘european’ wife and it didn’t, so he decided not to stick with us…

We’ve got a drumming workshop in late Jan so I’ve made vague arrangements with M, Oka and Kossy for us to get some video material sorted after that. Am feeling quite disheartened still, and keep having to remind myself that we’ve done what we set out to do. Getting enough recordings to create a CD, is in fact an extraordinary feat of achievement but I feel flattened by the split in the band and daunted by the task of a second set of fundraising to get the thing printed and out into the world!  I was hoping to leave on a high and instead have crashed quite badly on all fronts. Feeling dissapointed by the (not unexpected) personal politics at the same time as the anguish of yet annother enforced seperation from M. At least with us having a workshop in Jan/Feb we know it’s not too long before we can be together again, and he has got quite a bit to be getting on with in the meantime so he’s not going to feel like he’s ‘just waiting’ for me to come back. Although his financial situation is about to become even more impossible with the project over, no more money for band support and both of us flat broke!

I am slightly concerned about how he’s going to be when I’m gone. He’s been working on this recording project for over 8 months now and it’s finished. Not only is it finished but he’s barely got a group left! He’s got promotional material to tote ’round the hotels and hopefully at least 1 contract may happen so material will have to be arranged for that, and there’s always practise and composition but it’s hard for him (and all of us ‘creative’ types) when there’s no focus! The next bit of the project, mixing and mastering, is out of his hands. He’s going to have to trust me to be his ears as I’m the one collaborating with Martin and there won’t be enough time or money for very long phone calls or lots of skyping. The internet signal in Sanyang is dodgy at best and he currently has no laptop so that means skyping from an internet cafe which will be too noisy for musical listening type conversations. This is going to be tough on everyone. He’s done extraordinararily well I think, to handle everything so far, watch his precious music dissapear through the airport doors, and patch up what he can of a dissapointed and fractious group. Now he’s got to watch his wife leave (again) and hope for the best…

There’s food left, more than half a bag of rice. There’s a workshop coming up in Jan. This is currently very underbooked which I’m panicking about but he’s sure will be ok. We had 36 on the last one, including staff, at the moment we have 3 bookings… There’s a contract to get and there will be a Toumaranke Percussion CD. We’re all trying to stay upbeat. I’ve asked Oka to stick around at least a day after I go so the lonliness won’t be too great. He’s done this before, he’s seen both of us cry, he often comes to the airport for emotional support, he’s a good friend to us both and know’s the score.  We’ve also managed not to fight. We often fight in the last week and we’ve both noticed that and worked hard to stop doing it. So we are parting without anger between us. He’s trusting me to get the CD done well, I’m scared of all the responsibility but know the material is good, the quality of the music will speak for itself. I’ve just got to go back and get it out there!




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