Note: If using Outlook click the above bar where it says “Click to download photos” The photos are the best part!
Jamie Andrews, Owner of Jembe Solutions
In This Issue: Percussionist Jamie Andrews visited our farm a few months ago and as we got to know him, he never failed to impress us. His resume might read musician, teacher, craftsman and entrepreneur, but it is when you are sitting with him in a room full of people that you realize the full extent of his talents. Whether in a classroom setting, a drumming and yoga retreat or at a corporate function full of executives, Jamie has the ability to make you feel at ease with both the instruments and the teacher.
Jamie with his drums
Ken Carlson is back again this month; as he will be every month during the growing season. He penned a few lines about himself; figured a little introduction was in order. We couldn't agree more and must say once again how thrilled we are that Ken will be bringing his own observations and experiences with growing gourds to the pages of this newsletter.
In the growing section we also have The Gourd Jungle: Gourd Growing Tips For The Home Gardener. It is very practical offering tips on everything from planting the seeds through to the fall harvest.
It is spring and we have new workshops on the agenda. Learn how to make a thunder gourd or a unique weaving technique that is stunning to look at. Read about the details in the segment coming up called Workshop News.
Nothing is sweeter than the scent of cherry blossoms
Mail, news and trivia, along with the articles, makes this a very full spring-time newsletter so take a moment, put your feet up and enjoy.
Jamie Andrews: Jembe Solutions
(Jembe: To gather together in peace.)
When Jamie Andrews first began playing drums (officially playing; not stealing his Grandma's knitting needles and destroying the pillows which was the case up until then), he played the snare drum in a traditional Scottish Bagpipe band called the Innisfil Pipes and Drum. He moved through the different drums of that genre playing as many different kinds and styles as possible... Military Snare, Bass, Tuned Tenor drums (in a set of three) and Symphonic and Concert percussion of many kinds.
As a teenager he discovered Jazz - this was music that blew his mind. A little later, in one presentation with a concert band, Jamie had the opportunity to learn a few West African percussion instruments. It was at this point when suddenly he felt a strong connection - this was the music that had a long history with a very deep root.
As Jamie moved forward with his music he realized that he had to move backward and get in touch with the earliest forms of music as he could. His horizens broadened and the music of Nigeria, Guinea and Mali began to enter his spectrum. This was where many of the slaves had originated and this was the root of much of the music we hear today. Jamie states that this journey began 20 years ago and will only end when he is gone.
Jamie observed many gourd instruments in action before he was able to put his hands on one and get to know it personally. He now plays the Bara (a drum), the N'Goni (a six string bridgeharp with a calabash resonating chamber), and the Bolon, which he was sent from Guinea Conakry, Africa. Since that time he has produced his own instruments and subsequently has been building them for the custom market.
It is not difficult to learn to play these instruments Jamie claims although he is quick to point out that learning is a continuous process. The traditional style of playing Jembe for example, is different than many can find on their own in the west. Jamie has worked, studied and attended workshops with Jembefolas (Master Jembe speakers) throughout his learning process and realized early on that it is not the type of music you can learn from a book or a recording or website.
The building process of these instruments however varies in difficulty. Some of the bigger drums (ie bass drums) can be challenging physically and a good helping hand often comes into play. Working with animal skins in making a variety of West African instruments is a delicate process that has to be done respectively. Each skin has sound and strength capabilities that can be accentuated by matching it with the right size or thickness of drum and/or wood type. The knowledge of what and how these factors influence each other is the true nature of this work.
Building bolons...that's different. Jamie cannot even begin to explain all the different things involved in such a simple instrument from a builder's perspective. The biggest ones are the quality of the gourds (many thanks Northern Dipper Gourds!) and the wood used for the neck. The shape of both and how they relate is a great influence.
Jamie's business, Jembe Solutions, is comprised of many facets. He is quick to point out that it requires sacrifice and dedication and most importantly, balance with his home life. Jembe Solutions offers the following:
1.) Classes: Jamie conducts classes in a large variety of settings including drum circles, working with school children and with corporate clients.
2.) Retreats: Jamie just competed a Drumming, Dancing and Yoga retreat last month and from June 19 - 23 will be participating in the Big Heart Dance Camp. If you love music, art, late night jams, a fun kid's camp and more check it out at
3.) Lessons: Both private and small group lessons.
4.) Instrument repairs for jembes, dununs, bongos, ashilos, talking drums and others. Give him a call or email him for pricing, etc.
5.) Custom made drums and bolons: This is a rapidly growing aspect of Jembe Solutions; an aspect that Jamie loves. When speaking about the bolon he states:
"As for my product, (Bolon) I would like to perfect my technique and build a reputation as the best builder of this instrument in this country. I hope to continue to spend as much time in schools passing on this music tradition...The notion of sharing music as a large group is a reinforcement of our bonds as a community."
In the near future Jamie would like to acquire funding to hatch a Community Youth Drumming project. It would involve teaching a group of youths to build drums for the group. They learn to play the drums and in turn, would mentor the next groups of youths (under Jamie's direction.) After a couple of years the project would be self-sufficient.
To learn more about Jamie and Jembe Solutions click here:
To learn more about African Drums and Crafts click here:
To learn more about the Innisfil Pipes and Drums click here:
Ken Carlson:A Formal Introduction
Ken Carlson will be a regular contributor during the gourd growing season relaying stories about his experiences in growing gourds.
July 6, 2012
It's summer, it's hot, it's 8 am and I am at work with my first cup of coffee. The sun has been up for hours and I wish I could have been here to greet it, but no, I was stuck at home awaiting the college girl that shows up each morning of the summer to work with my miracle - miracle, - now there is a story you need to hear if you are going to know me at all.
Back up 10 years and I was thinking of retiring after 20 years of being a school Principal/CEO. A lawyer friend and I were sitting at a coffee table after church and we decided that if either one of us bought a hobby farm that I would run it, just so I wasn't stuck inside a school building everyday. Later that same year he bought the 80 acres next to his house on the outskirts of Aberdeen and I started in. "Do what you would do if it were yours, and save the receipts," he said and we were off.
First was the golf driving range, then the go cart track (3/8 mile loop), the pond for swimming, the two story gazebo and did I mention 9 rows of trees surrounding the entire 80 acres with planted grass between the rows. That left only 67 acres for the planting of crops. and my 13 acres had to be mowed short and each of the trees kept free of any weeds. It's kind of like having your own personal park.
Northern State University comes over each afternoon and runs through our rows of trees as their cross country course, and each year the alumni cross country meet is held here.
Yes, I know, my miracle, I'm getting there.
It's 2002 and my wife and I are 49, we have no children, and as one of the little old ladies at our church said, "maybe God just wanted it that way." We were removed from our local adoption list at the age of 40 (too old), reinstated at 43 (policy change), then removed at 45, (too old again). The hobby farm keeps me pretty busy 9 months a year, but that first winter off I was glad when a friend asked me to come and remodel and retile the workers washrooms at his business. To the young workers at his business I was the "old guy doing the #^$%#-+*^%$#"
Anyway, one day as I was finishing laying the tile in the men's room, someone opened the door and walked in. I couldn't look up as I was spacing a tile and just said to use the bathroom in the offices. It was one of the press operators and she said she had watched me work and listened to me voice my opinions at lunch. Then she said the words that removed me from the center of my own universe. "I'd like you to be the father of my baby."
She quickly went on to explain that she (a single parent) had two children and was three months along. Her boyfriend had left town and she wanted this baby to have a father. A private and open adoption followed 6 months later.
Back to July 6, 2012
The college girl shows up a little late, comes into the house and says "Christopher, today is baseball at 10, lunch at McD's and we'll bike to the pool at 1. I'll drop him off at your work ay 3:30. Christopher, come on, get your reading books and put me in a piece of toast." She says this all in one breath.
Anyway, I'm at work now with my M & H mug full of coffee, and as I do first thing everyday I walk up and down my fence line full of dipper gourds. It is my quiet time. Son, wife, God, health, gourds, me - there's an order of importance there somewhere but I haven't been at the front for over 10 years now - it just doesn't get any better than this.
Hi I'm Ken. I'll be writing some articles on gourds and why I think they are special. They are special, and that's coming from someone who has already experienced a miracle.
Beginner's Carving Class
This workshop is designed for those who have limited or no experience in carving. Learn the basics in this fun-filled and education carving class including techniques, design and carving in 3-D.
Food-Safe Lidded Container
Learn how to make this attractive bowl using a food-safe finish. Using a latching technique, the lid can be securely latched for storage or moving contents.
Great to use on the home front or in the lunchroom.
Many gourd artists incorporate weaving into their art giving it a plethora of color and texture. Here we would like to thank Marla Helton for allowing us to share this beautiful weaving technique with you.
Hello Northern Dipper,
Watched a terrible movie last night called "Big Trouble In Little China" but when all was said and done it was worth it due to the good gourd sightings. Here they are pouring a drink from a gourd. Love your newsletter...DG - Ajax, Ontario
Thanks DG, we appreciate you sending this in.
Thanks for the warning about the movie. Carolyn and Linda
To learn more about Big Trouble In Little China" click here:
Hello there Northern Dipper,
I have been a fan of purple martins since I was a young pup. Growing up in Georgia my parents had martin houses up in the back yard. They weren't cleaned or painted white like I see now but every spring without fail, our yard was full of song.
Now I am starting up a new hobby...yes you guessed it, growing gourds. I bought Ginger Summit's book "Gourds In Your Garden" and on page 23 I found a paragraph about purple martins.
"When Europeans first arrived in North America, they found gourds being used for many purposes, including birdhouses. The Choctow and Chickasaw Indians found great advantage in attracting large colonies of purple martins to their villages. By the time the Europeans arrived, the martins were permanently conditioned to nesting in gourds erected close to the tribal living sites, and that dependence on human provided homes continues to this day. Residents east of the Rocky Mountains are encouraged to erect purple martin houses, preferably made out of gourds.Thus, they are rewarded by a very effective bug control, and satisfaction that they are helping to maintain a healthy martin population."
I thought both you and your readers would like this, especially because it is the time of year to get them up. Enjoy your newsletter...keep up the hard work.
Keith Morris, Georgia
Hi Keith, Thanks for your email. We have read Ginger's book many times and the chapter on the history of the gourd is is very well done. It is an excellent reference book that will be used over and over again.
Keep in touch and let us know how your new hobby is growing!
Carolyn and Linda
Great-horned owls have taken up residence in a flower box in the city of Victoria, BC. The eggs hatched mid-February and now fluffy chicks are quickly growing.
Thank goodness we have the Hancock Wildlife Foundation, a not-for-profit society which allows the public to look into the nests of eagles and now, great horned owls. Through webcams we can see nests being built, eggs being layed and hatched, and the babies fledging. What an opportunity for a nature lover.
In addition the Hancock Wildlife Foundation is connected to other webcams around the globe. His webcams featuring other birds such as peregrine falcons.
To view the BC Eagles as
well as other birds here is
the main page for nesting webcams:
(Once in click on the link you want - this will take you to the nest - and then click on LIVE SCREEN located in the top right hand corner.)
Looking Ahead: May, 2013
Next month we are very pleased to have with us Marilyn Sunderland. Much of Marilyn's work is nature-based. Her carvings of autumn leaves flow like water and her use of color is extraordinary. On top of it all she is gracious and generous. Marilyn is a real gem as you will discover in the May issue of Gourd Fever.
Ken Carlson will be here to discuss the age old question when growing gourds; namely space. He has a solution that may not suit everyone but we are certain it will please many.
We also have mail left in the mailbag and it wouldn't be Gourd Fever without our trivia section. So until month, stay healthy....
Carolyn Cooper and Linda Bond
PS The garden in the photo on the left is locally known as the Haultain Common. Here an urban boulevard has been filled with strawberries, raspberries, lettuce, etc and it is for all to share. There is a sitting area with chairs hewn out of logs where you can rest and have a visit with other passer-byers. It is turning a neighbourhood into a community which is good for everyone.
Volume 9, Number 97
In this issue:
Jamie Andrews: Jembe Solutions
The Bulletin Board: News From Northern Dipper
Ken Carlson: A Formal Introduction
The Gourd Jungle: Gourd Growing Tips For The Home Gardener
News Flash: Hot Workshops Coming Up!
Out Of The Mailbag, Gourd Sightings & Trivia
The Bulletin Board
New Carving Burrs
The Saburr Tooth Carbide Burrs are a dream for carving gourds and wood. The burrs feature long-lasting razor sharp carbide teeth that resists loading, provides for fast cutting and gives great control.
For more info click here:
Join Our "First To Know" Workshop List
How many times have we heard that people would love to know what workshops are happening around the corner? Lots! So let's do something about it.
Send your email address to
and get advanced notice
on new and upcoming workshops. Book 2 or more classes and save 10%.
If you have any requests for
a workshop you have been dreaming about, let us know. We like it when people's dreams can come true.
What's On Sale?
Purple Martin Kits
Last month's sale on Purple Martin kits was very successful and we are thrilled that so many people are into birds. Let the love continue as well as this sale!
This kit contains 4 Martin gourds with deep cavities. The entry hole is pre-drilled and we have cleaned the interior.
$40.00 per kit.
"Every gourd has its own character and voice, just
like the drums and the skins.
They have strengths and weaknesses and the sounds they produce are incredible. The shells speak under the right hands, with many voices."
Jamie grew up surrounded
by music. "My mother had a strong liking for the Beatles, the Doors and John Lennon.
In fact we could predict her mood by what album she would play."
"It emphasized the strong element of emotion
that music holds for me.
To this day when I am moved
by a musical experience, I am brought to tears."
"Music is passion, one of
the greatest forms of love aside from creation itself. These days, when I am at home,
my music is relative
to what my kids can deal
with. My kids like it when I listen to Ziggy Marley, as
well as Femi and Fela Kuti."
"I have a friend named Saikou Saho who operates a business importing instruments, clothing and artifacts from many parts of Africa. It is called African Drums and Art Crafts.
"He has helped me learn how
to reskin Jembes with goatskin. It is a gift that he shared (and continues to) give me and in return, I sell his drums at the International Music Fest in London Ontario. (Sunfest)"
"If you see him at the Toronto International Music Festival, which happens at the same time as sunfest, make sure to stop by and say hello."
"For the most part I am inspired by inspiring others.
I like the energy that is created by community, love and respect."
"I am inspired greatly by my teacher and mentor Micheal McLarty and my children inspire many of the activities
I create to help teach West African styles of drumming
"The belief that the world is
a better place when we can
all communicate effectively pushes me hard."
Advice For New Artists
"Persist, train properly, perfect your skill and technique,
accept mistakes and learn
from them, try again...not always in that order.'
"Believe in yourself if you want others to believe in what you see as an artist. Put yourself in to what you do as much as possible."
"Lastly, practice, a thousand times, and then a thousand more."
- Spring 2013 - Various appearances at schools throughout Dufferin County.
- June 19 - 23 - Big Heart Dance Camp
The Gourd Jungle:
Gourd Growing Tips For The Home Gardener
Gourds are fun to grow and are pretty easy too once you get the seedlings well established
. Here are some tips on getting your seeds planted and germinating.
General Characteristics Of
A Gourd Plant
- They are a vigorous vine growing up to 10 feet with large leaves and white night blooming flowers.
- The vines are natural climbers and have tendrils that grasp with great ferocity. It is a perfect vine to grow along a fence or on a strong trellis.
- Most gourds can be grown either on the ground or can be trellised. They need heat and approxiametly 120 days to grow. They dry over the winter.
- Plenty of sun
- Well-fertilized soil
- Lots of water
The Planting of the Seed
- Soak the seeds for 24 hours before planting.
- Fill peat pots with a good-quality potting soil mixed with vermitite. Water slightly before you plant your seeds if using a light soil like ProMix.
- Insert the gourd seed about 1/2 inch deep. Cover with soil and pat down. Place in a heated greenhouse, a sunny window or under lights.
- Keep your seeds watered, warm and be patient. Gourd seeds can take a while to come up so do not be alarmed when they don't come up within a couple of days.
Ornamental Gourds Ornamentals are perfect for container gardens. Add a bit
of chicken wire or a small trellis from bamboo poles and grow them up. Flowers are day-blooming and yellow.
They are easy to grow so perfect for children.
Thunder Drums / Thunder Gourds
A combination of gourd, a hand-made spring and a plastic membrane results in an instrument which sounds like a clap of thunder. A unique gift for yourself, for those who play music or for that hard - to - buy for person we know.
Drums, Drums and More Drums!
Time to get drumming again! This popular workshop is always in high demand and it is easy to understand why.
Out Of The Mailbag
Hi ND, I was at a Farmer's Market in the fall and someone was selling dried gourds. I didn't know anything about gourds but liked the different shapes so I bought some.
Over the winter I read an article on gourd birdhouses and would like to give it a try. Any tips for me? Mike Hargraves
Gourds make great birdhouses and are inhabited by birds of all types. Once a bird nests in a gourd it will be back every year. There are only a couple of things you should consider.
One is the size of the entry hole. If you google entry holes for birds you will get lots of hits on this subject. Small birds - small holes.
The other thing is drainage holes. It is important to drill 3 - 4 small holes into the bottom just in case rain gets inside. How you decorate is entirely up to you. Send us a photo once you are done.
It's A Dogs Life
A new documentary about dogs aired on CBC's Doc Zone the other night. Dog Dazed delved into the problems that arise between dog and
non-dog people but even
more interesting, examined
the dog himself. It presented
some fascinating facts.
Did you know?
- Dogs can read our every move. They follow our gaze and pick up every movement of our eyes. Between that and our scent...
Dogs can tell our moods through our scent; whether we're happy, sad, frustrated, whether we've just had sex or
if we're about to...there's nothing that our dog doesn't know about!
- Dogs focus on the right side of our face more than the left. The right side shows emotion more than the left.
- When you look into a dog's eyes it releases a hormone into our bloodstream. This is the hormone that helps us bond with our children.
- 45% of all dog owners think that dogs have the same emotions as humans.
- Pet owners are arranging to be buried beside their favorite pooches in pet cemetaries.
To learn more about Dog Dazed click here:
Music Pick of the Month
Victoria, BC, V8R 2Z7
PO Box 1145
5376 County Rd 56
L0L 1L0, Canada