Songhoy Blues (Mali) – Whelans, Dublin. 21st October 2015

It wasn’t long after their performance at Body & Soul festival in June that Mali’s Songhoy Blues announced a full show for Dublin this October.  Billed as Mali’s next big thing (from a seemingly endless stream of music) the band played a blinding set at their Sunday afternoon performance at Body & Soul.  In the intimate surrounds of Whelans expect a sweaty and laden dance floor.

Manden Express - Afro-Eire

Songhoy Blues Dublin

The band originates from the Gao region of Northern Mali, a region that was at the centre of the Islamist take over that occurred  in 2012.  The band featured on on Damon Albarns Maison de Jeunes compilation album in 2014.  Their new album Music in Exile has received critical acclaim,.




Djembe & Dunun intensive workshop (Mali style)

In this intensive workshop students will get a grounding in Malian style djembe and Dunun.

Mali style differs from the more well known Guinean style in the swing of the rhythm and the placement of of some of the dunun notes which in my opinion make for a funkier more laid back feel.

The workshop will be given by Paul McElhatton who has studied extensively in West Africa and is the founder of West African groupManden Express. These rhythms were learnt from Master drummer Drissa Kone from Mali.

This workshop is suitable for djembe players and percussionists with some experience of playing. Djembe, Dunun and Solo parts will be taught.

Venue: The Lab, Foley St, Dublin.

Cost:: 25euro or 45euro for 2 people (go make some drummy friends).

Bookings available at

Africa Day Dublin – May 24th 2015

Africa day is back again this year in Farmleigh House in the Pheonix Park form 11am to 6pm.  Africa Day has become slightly more ‘African’ in the last few years largely due to the proliferation of new African acts in the Capital such as Manden Express, Tig Linn, Dublin Afrobeat Ensemble, Riza, Kempes & Dangana, and several others.  Back at the top of the bill again are Kila. In fairness they were probably the first people I ever saw playing a Djembe!!

So lets start with this years new offerings.

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Down With Jazz Festival 2015 – Sidiki Dembélé Sextet and much more..

We are delighted to announce Sidiki Dembélé will be performing with members of Irelands own West African music group Manden Express in the all new Sidiki Dembélé Sextet. This show is being put together especially for the festival and will feature a rare cross-over between some of the best homegrown and international specialists from the fields of Jazz and traditional African music.

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Sidiki Dembélé (Ivory Coast) – Workshop & Concert Weekender 29th – 31st May

We are delighted to welcome renowned Djembe, Kamele n’goni and n’goni player Sidiki Dembélé to Ireland for the very first time.  Over the weekend he will be giving adult drumming workshops, teaching traditional griot singing, and performing drumming concerts and a special concert of West African music with members of Dublin based group Manden Express. DETAILS COMING SOON..

11026316_1281982008567190_632768951017129276_oBorn in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Cote d’Ivoire, Sidiki is the second son of a Griot family. The Griot tradition is one which has spanned centuries of civilisation in West Africa, and has been passed down through the generations, carrying with it an ancient culture of story-telling, communication and celebration. In West African culture, the Griot family has traditionally been responsible for carrying news, folklore and diplomacy between villages, nomadic tribes, kings and warriors, using dance, music and song. Historically, the power of performance in this most ancient of civilisations has been echoed throughout the nations of the world; and perhaps the most evocative and emotive instrument in routing enemies, communicating with allies and rousing nations to unity is the drum. Raised in a family whose generations have been steeped and driven by these traditions, from the age of fourteen Sidiki has played percussion instruments professionally and in particular the Djembe drum of West Africa, to herald and celebrate significant events in the life of his community in Abidjan. He has taught adults and children to play and shared his passion for music with them, his enthusiasm and dedication an intoxicating source of inspiration to those who meet him and who see him perform.

In 2007 Sidiki was the solo percussionist picked at a national level audition, from a sixty strong cohort of hopeful djembefolas from all over Cote d’Ivoire, who played their hearts out for a chance to play with some of the most talented performers from all over the continent in the concept circus show, Afrika!Afrika! Sidiki caught the eye of Georges Momboye, the celebrated lead choreographer, who called Sidiki the next day to invite him to start work in Germany. Between 2007 and 2009 Sidiki toured mainland Europe, principally as the percussion lead musician of the orchestra with Afrika!Afrika!, but also for periods of time with Drumcafé, a London based company. The Director of the company in the UK, Brett Schlesinger, describes Sidiki as “One of the strongest soloists and most respected lead drummers in the UK at the moment”.

Sidiki’s performances have included guest appearances at a number of national festivals, including WOMAD (2010 and 2012) and The Beatherder, African Beats Camp, Drumcamp and African Drum Village in Isla, Scotland. He is the lead percussionist for Wales based company, Ballet Nimba, with whom he tours throughout the UK and internationally, and he has recently returned from an appearance at the first African Music Festival, staged in the Carribean Island of Monserrat, with celebrated band, Jalikunda.

Meanwhile, the Abidjan cohort of Denifari, founded by Sidiki at the tender age of sixteen, as a means of offering an alternative lifestyle to the impoverished youth of his community, continues to go from strength to strength. They are now recognised all over Cote d’Ivoire as a leading, performance based company, with drummers, balafonists, Ngoni players, singers and dancers who provide a wide range of entertainments throughout the country, enjoying widespread acclaim as a group of talented artistes trained and developed by Sidiki himself.

Venue: Th Twisted Pepper, Abbey St, Dublin
Time: 1 – 4pm
Cost: 30e on the day – 25e in advance before 15th May.
(Drums can be provided on request)

Venue – The Lab, Foley St, Dublin 1.
Time: 12 – 4pm
Cost 35e on the day – 30e in advance before 15th May.

Please contact Paul –


Manden Express CD launch.. With Special Guests. Saturday 4th April, The Sugar Club, Dublin.

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Manden Express Mali music Ireland

Manden Express and the Souljazz Orchestra

It’s been a great voyage for Manden Express so far since their first concert in Body & Soul festival in 2013. Since those raw Afro-Rock performances of the early days Manden Express have expanded their ranks welcoming other talented musicians into fold, bringing their expertise in diverse musical genres from Jazz to Flamenco, leading Down With Jazz festival to write:

‘If Ireland has become a melting pot, Manden Express might be the band to provide its        soundtrack’.

In their first EP Manden Express blend original compositions with great West African standards such Faso Denou (Burkina Faso) and Djina Musso (Mali).

Manden Express are delighted to welcome you and many special guests to this exciting evening of some of the best of West African in Dublin.

Dublin Afrobeat EnsembleDublin Afrobeat Ensemble

Ajo Arkestra (Dublin Afrobeat Ensemble) are a 14 strong outer-national group of Afrobeat exponents from the four corners of the world. They are a musical crossroads made up of musicians that have washed up on our shores and share an ancestral understanding of the Underground Spiritual Game playing a blend of free flow Afrobeat rhythm and heavy dance-floor Afro funk. The band was founded in 2012, when a group of Afro-beat enthusiast started meeting up regularly at down-town jam sessions. They began making plans to form a new collective that would combine their various musical interests with their particular world view.

Dj Lex Woo

Dj Lex Woo is perhaps Dublins best loved Dj spinning African Beats in many of the capitals top venues and collaborating with homegrown and visiting greats including the great Tony Allen of Fela Kuti fame. He has also brought his talents across the dance floors of Europe and as far afield as New York.


14-640x440Mark Murphy aka DJ Scope is based in Dublin, Ireland. He has worked with artists like Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Edan, Poets of Rhythm, Q-Tip, and many more , check for more info.

Musically expect to hear slow to fast, old to new and exclusives and obscurities when Murphy is in the mix. Known for his diverse range and journeyman style of Djing,

Mandingue DrummersManden Express are delighted to invite a host of Mandingue Drummers specialising in the Djembe and Dunun drumming of West Africa. African music in Ireland owes a lot to the drummers and dancers who have brought us the blistering energy of the West African village.





10e for first 50 tickets – Including CD download.

14e for first 50 tickets – including Cd download + CD hard copy on the night.

12.50e at the door/16.50e including CD.



West African Drumming – Sat 28th March – Applerock Studios, Dublin

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Rhythm is highly important to life in rural Africa, it breaks up the mundane tasks of the day such as pounding grain and turns it into a rhythmic adventure. All stages of life are accompanied by drumming in certain areas of West Africa. Births, , coming of age, planting, harvesting, marriage…. All have their specific rhythms.

This is an extended workshop open to all levels focusing on the Djembe and Dunun drums of West Africa. Rhythms from Mali and Guinea. Taught by Paul McElhatton who has been studying African percussion for 15 years in Mali, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Gambia, Burkina Faso and In the Ghanaian drum and Dance Ensemble in SOAS, University of London.

He has toured as Far afield as Mexico and Egypt . He is the founder of the group Manden Express where he plays Malian hunter harp.

Time: 2.30 – 5pm

Location: Applerock Studios, 21 Foley St, Dublin 1.

Cost: 20euro – 15euro advanced payement

For more info see

Kamele n’goni making workshop 14th March 2015

For the first time in Ireland we will be conducting a kamele n’goni making workshop.  This is rare opportunity to learn about the instrument and its construction.  Making an instrument is also a traditional course of development for kamele n’goni, donso n’goni and Kora players in Africa.

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This workshop will focus on the construction of 8 and 10 string Kamele n’goni.  The workshop will involve shaping the calabash, skining the calabash, decorating, and placing bridge supports.

Kamele n'goni kamale n'goni

Kamele n’goni kamale n’goni

Secondly we will be creating a hardwood neck and bridge for the n’goni.

Kamele n'goni - Afro-Eire

Finally, we will attach the to the components and to make the finished product.

Kamele n'goni Ireland

Kamele n’goni Ireland

The workshop will be conducted by Paul McElhatton who has been travelling to West Africa for over 15 years to study traditional instruments.  Paul is also the creator and kamele n’goni player in Irelands only Mali music group Manden Express

You can see more about the Kamele n’goni’s here:

And check out some of our online tutorials here:

All materials are included in this workshop, including:

A good quality calabash.

A high quality goat skin

A hardwood neck

Hardwood for the bridge


Playing cords


Metal tuners (Max 10)

Cost of workshop including all material 210 euro.

Date: 14th March  – Venue: TBC (Dublin area).

Advance booking with deposit essential in order to get materials – please contact


Quantic Dj with Manden Express, The Sugar Club, Dublin,. December 28th.


Quantic Dj and Manden Express, 28th December, Sugar Club, Dublin

Quantic Dj and Manden Express, 28th December, Sugar Club, Dublin

Early Birds sold out, €12.50 per tickets ex booking fee €15 on the door

Quantic DJ Set
Manden Express
Brian Cross aka B+
James Keating
& more tba on the night….Doors 9pm

Quantic, aka Will Holland is a British born Musician, Producer & DJ making Soul, Electronic & Latin Music saturated in the tropical soundwaves of the Carribean. Currently working from his Sonido del Valle studio base in the highlands of Bogota, Colombia, Holland has developed a sound that bridges heritage and progression, marrying spontaneous musicianship with deep, exciting tonality.

Manden Express are Ireland’s one and only group focusing on Malian Music and music form the Mande Empire. Since their debut in 2013 they have built a strong following with appearances in festivals such as Bray Jazz Festival, Down with Jazz and Hotter than July. They bring together an international line up of talented musicians with a wide variety in their repertoire.



Habib Koité (Mali). Tuesday 3rd March 2015 – The National Concert Hall, Dublin.


March sees the return of legendary Malian guitarist Habib Koité to the National Concert Hall, Dublin.

Koité was last in Ireland in 2009 with his group Badama.  Then he gave an intimate workshop for musicians sharing his extensive knowledge of both European classical and traditional Malian music. This was followed by a blistering performance which saw the NCH’s ushers quickly surrender their no dancing in the aisles policy.

Since then there have been changes to the group, most notably the retirement in 2009 and the death in 2012 at the age of 81 of ones of Mali’s greatest virtuosos, the Balafonist Keletigui Diabate. Diabate, a founding member of l’Orchestre National de Mali also toured and recorded with artists such as Toumani Diabate and Salif Keita to name a few.

The new five piece section sees introduction of instruments such as the Banjo and Keyboards to the group. Having seen Koité performing several times in both Europe I look forward to his latest offerings.

Habib Koité • Guitar, Lead Vocals

Issa Koné • Guitar, Banjo, Backing Vocals

Abdoul Wahab Berthé • Bass, Kamale Ngoni

Charly Coulibaly • Keyboards, Backing Vocals

Mama Koné • Percussion, Backing Vocals

Tickets €34, €30, €24, €16 (choir balcony)

Organised by Waltons World Masters Series

Tickets Available from the National Concert Hall