Some exciting news.....

When Craig left Scotland at the ripe “young” age of 18 to go to university in London, he thought he was going to be a scientist and spent years studying Environmental Biology!  At one point he was studying the growth of algae on glaciers in Italy! 

What he didn’t realise when he was on his way to London was that he was being led to discover his life’s passion but it was not even close to being a scientist!  While at university he saw someone playing a drum for the first time and that powerful, rhythmic beat resonated deeply within him.  He knew that he needed more of that and was soon off to his first drum class with David Oladunni (Nigeria). He loved that class so much that he continued to attend every week, through the harsh English winter he’d carry his drum, often through snow, never missing a class and loving every moment. It turned out that David had close ties with Peter Gabriel, drummed with just about everyone who was anyone and really inspired Craig to ‘go deep’.

mohataIn Australia he met and studied with Mohamed Bangoura (West African drumming Master) and was a founding member of ‘Mohata’ in 1999 (photo), the first traditional African drumming ensemble of it’s kind in Australia. He then went off to Guinea with Mohamed to continue to fulfil his endless desires of deepening his knowledge. He went for a month and stayed for two!  It was months of intensive drumming in a country where drum and dance is so embedded in the culture that he was in heaven!  After around 3 weeks Lamine Soumah (otherwise known as Lopez) who was one of the countries leading Master drummers saw Craig drumming with the group he’d gone to Guinea with.  He spoke in 'Susu' (one of the traditional languages) to the person in charge and basically said “when the course finished he is coming with me” and the translation was that Craig had to pack his things, move towns as Lopez wanted to teach Craig personally – he saw something in him –  an unbridled passion, an intense hunger and desire to drum. In Guinea, when  Lopez spoke, you did what he said, and the fact that Craig had been handpicked by him was an honour not bestowed on many and an opportunity not to be passed up.   

So the one month tour became a 2 month tour.  For up to 6 hours a day, 6 days a week (one day for hands to heal) he drummed with Lopez and also members of ‘Les Percussions des Guinee’, one of the fiercest traditional percussion ensembles in the country. There are many, many stories to be told from his time in Guinea but we’ll save that for another time!

"Music books full of notation"

IMG 3521He returned to Australia and continued to practice, he was not only playing Djembe but a whole suite of percussion instruments including Congas, Bongos, Talking Drum and hand percussion. He taught himself these instruments by watching clip after clip on Youtube and going to whatever drum classes and workshops were around that could teach him at the level he needed.  He dived into Afro-Cuban music books full of notation and obsessed over them. He started busking and took whatever gigs came his way.  He played in clubs, pubs and on sidewalks!  In the early days it was for little money but as the years went by and his experience grew the gigs got better and the pay got better.  He continued to expand on the fleet of percussion instruments he could play and no matter how good he got, he continued to practice, practice, practice!  He played in a variety of bands, playing all different styles of drumming – Cuban, Traditional African, Township Jive, Jazz, Funk (to name a few). 

The gigs and opportunities got bigger and better – he recorded music for national geographic, choreographed drumming performances for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, played to packed houses at Sydney’s famed Basement, entertained Sir Richard Branson at 30,000 feet and played to thousands at music festivals including WOMADelaide (World Music Festival in Adelaide). 


"Why do you practice so much?"

And still he would continue to practice.  He would sit in a room for four hours a day, practising rudiments, working on technique, watching videos of master drummers and continually adding other instruments to his regime, like Cabassa, Guiro, Cajon and on and on….  He even went to Indonesia and learnt to play the Indonesian flute (Suling) with a Gamelan orchestra.

He started Kids on Congas to inspire the next generation with his passion for drumming, add in a wife and three kids of his own plus his drumming gigs and the free time becomes less but he still makes time to practice!  So a few weeks ago, while practicing with a (drummer) mate, his mate said to him “why do you still practice so much, you’re always going on about practice practice practice….”Craig’s response “Because I know there’s something coming for me, I don’t know when or where from, but I need to be ready“.

MASTER Remo within CrownFast forward one week … and here’s where I tell you the big news...he gets a phone call from REMO – the world’s biggest drumhead company (translation – international drumming icon!) –  who say they love what he’s doing with Kids on Congas and they are endorsing not only Craig as an individual artist, but also Kids on Congas!!  So Craig is now endorsed by REMO, alongside elite drummers and percussionists from Iron Maiden, Silverchair, Hoodoo Gurus, You Am I, John Butler Trio…and on the list goes! 


Follow your passion

So the moral of the story is follow your passion, give it your all, be energetic and always give it 110%!  Be the best you can be!  These things don’t get handed out on a silver platter!  Someone said “How did you get the endorsement?”  Well the story you’ve just read (which is a brief summary really), is how!  It’s been 25 years of practice and putting in the hard yards but never giving up!  He found his passion and rather than taking the safe, logical road of the life of a scientist (he is a Bsc Honours graduate), he followed his passion, he’s taken risks and he’s listened to the inner voices that wouldn’t be silenced.   

We are excited to see what the next unwritten chapter of this rhythmic life will bring, and we will update you on progress and developments (there are a few things already bubbling) so watch this space ;-)

Karen Morrison

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