Bolokada played djembe before he could walk. Born in Kissidougou, Guinea, he was called to Conakry by Les Percussions de Guinea as a Premiere Soloist. Bolokada is renowned in his region and in Conakry as a master folklorist and was honored with a gift of land by the mayor of Kissidougou. For years he toured internationally (including the U.S.A.) with Les Percussions de Guinea and gained a worldwide reputation as one of the most exciting and dynamic djembe players alive. He has released two CD”s and is featured on the IMAX movie “Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey”. Bolokada is currently the Musical Director and Premiere Soloist for Les Percussions Malinke. Find out more about Bolokada at his site.
Raphael has been an avid percussionist from an early age. A passionate student of West African music, he has traveled to Guinea countless times, bringing along groups of drum and dance students. He has preformed both nationally and internationally with several all-star groups, as well as being intensely involved in their production, management and promotion. Raphael’s performance embodies a strength and vibrancy that is not to be missed.
Sean Araneda, a San Francisco native, has been a student of music for most of his life. Saxophone and clarinet were early interests. However, beginning in his early-twenties he focused almost exclusively on voice and African percussion, immersing himself in the traditional styles of Guinea, Mali, Ghana and Zimbabwe. Sean is best known for his melodious, grounded, yet hauntingly subtle feel on dunun, but is a djembe player of incomparable sweetness. In 2005 he toured with the opening act for Joan Baez. He has been a member of several Bay Area troupes, most recently with the Chigamba family’s group, Chinyakare Ensemble.
Michael Pluznick is an accomplished percussionist, performer and music producer. Originally from New Jersey, he has traveled to Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico and West Africa performing, recording and teaching since 1972. His teaching credits include Sonoma State University, where he was a guest lecturer and instructor. Some of his students – Arthur Hull, drum facilitator, and Jim Greiner of Latin Percussion – have gone on to have successful careers of their own. Michael’s album, “Rhythm Harvest”, was on Billbard’s Top 20 for two months. Another album, “Where the Rain is Born”, won top honors in Electronic Musician Magazine. Michael currently lives in Sausalito, California where he produces various forms of African music. He performs locally and globally and continues to maintain top form by accompanying dance classes, both in the Bay Area and around the world.
Mohamed Kouyate is a native of the village of Sogoboli, located in the Boké region of Guinea. He belongs to the lineage of Bala Fasseke Kwate, the famous griot of Sundiata Keita, King of the Mandeng. He began to study the balafon at the age of two and was principally trained by his grandfather.
While Mohamed is best known for his mastery of the balafon, he is an equally powerful dundun and djembe player. Those who know him as a balafon master are frequently in awe of his soulfulness on guitar and bass. A true traditional multi-instrumentalist, Mohamed has also composed popular music for African recording artists.
Naby’s energetic and fluid dance style have made him a much sought-after performer and teacher. Raised, in Conakry, Guinea, he pursued a career as a soccer player, but became interested in traditional dance while watching his uncle rehearse for Kemoko Sano’s group, Les Merveilles de Guinée. He came to the United States in 1998 with the group, and has been astonishing audiences ever since with his unique interpretation of traditional dance. Naby teaches and performs regularly in the Bay Area.