Mal Webb - Djembe

Artist: Mal Webb

Song: Djembe

Album: Trainer Wheels (2000)

Mal Webb (born 1966 in Melbourne, Australia) is a multi-instrumentalist who is currently a prominent (yet obscure) figure in the Australian music scene. Webb is known for an eclectic range of musical styles and techniques, his vocal talents, which include Pygmy Yodeling, a variety of Overtone singing styles, extensive use of Falsetto and Beatboxing.


A djembe originates from the Manding parts of West Africa (namely Mali, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, and Burkina Faso). It is a goblet shaped drum (usually about a metre tall and 50cm across) now popular in the rest of the world due to its wide range and loudness (these attributes can be utilized by even the most inexperienced drummer; unfortunately). In the hands of an expert player, it is a beautiful instrument. This song was inspired mainly by a great video, called Djembefola, in which the amazing Guinean djembe player, Mamaday Keita, visits home after 30 years of living in Europe. At one point, when loading his djembe onto a truck, his brother says: "Forget your Djembe....." and continues with what roughly translates to the first verse of my song. Mickey Hart, the drummer from the Grateful Dead, is a guiding light of the "chai tent" school of group drumming (also known as "feral" or "hippy" drumming) through his book "Planet Drum". I really have nothing against these things (djembes, bongos, etc.): I just prefer them played well and accompanied by melodic instruments and/or voice (as is generally the case in the traditions from which they originate). "Drowsy Maggie" is an oft played celtic reel (is this a tautology?)

There's too many djembes in the village
You've got to get a bicycle instead
'Cos to the local ladies
A bike is a Mercedes
And you cannot ride a djembe
Home to bed

There's too many bongos in the chai tent
You know I think they're tapping in
To something big
When every second part
Seems to channel Mickey Hart
It's something I'm not stoned enough
To dig

Djembe x3 Bongo x3 Djembebongo x3

There's too many fiddlers
In the green room
Forever reeling incessantly obsessed
When Celtic is the flavour
They savour every quaver
But maybe "Drowsy Maggie" needs a rest

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