All The Way From Homer, Alaska

Shamwari Marimba


Friday July 17, 2022 7:00pm

  • Doors: 6pm
  • Show: 7pm
  • Age: 21+ (Minors ok with parent/ legal guardian)
  • Price: $5

Shamwari came about in the Homer marimba community that brought African marimba music to Alaska. Shamwari started in 2002 after a group of friends took a marimba workshop from musician Michael Breez, then of Seattle. “Shamwari” means “friends” in the Shona language of Zimbabwe. Their music has its roots in the Zimbabwean music tradition brought to North America by Dumisane “Dumi” Maraire. “A synthesis of western music and African polyrhythmic beats, Zimbabwean music resonates in the soul,” said Michael Armstrong, another founding member. “It’s primal, energetic music, and also great to dance to.” Like the western concert marimba, African marimbas have tuned, wooden keys that are played with mallets. Our ensemble consists of soprano, tenor, baritone and bass marimbas as well as drums and hoshos, an African gourd shaker similar to a maraca. Polyrhythms emerge when musicians play different notes and pulses that interlock with other instruments. Shamwari has learned all its pieces in the traditional African oral method and performs with no sheet music and totally from memory. From its original founding members of Levine and his wife Sue Post, Armstrong and his wife Jenny Stroyeck, and Julia Clymer, it has expanded to include Clymer’s husband and lead vocalist, Karl Stoltzfus, Stephanie Leib Migdal, Jackie Forster and Greg Fries. The musicians play on different marimbas and percussion depending on the song. Former member Doug Epps, now living in Anchorage, brought marimba music there. With his wife, Laurel Epps, they produced “Soul Resonance,” a documentary about how Zimbabwean music came to North America. In addition to Homer, Alaska now has Africanmarimba groups in Anchorage, Juneau and Kodiak.

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