Thursday, December 27, 2012

Artist Spotlight- Witchdoctor Utu from the Dragon Ritual Drummers

Hello Dear Readers!

 I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season! I am continuing on with my Artist Spotlight series, in which I get a chance to introduce you to folks who took the time out to answer my query’s about how they are inspired to do their art! There is more to come after this as I meet more folks and get contacts of more amazing people! Not to lose the regular focus of this blog, I am currently working on a personal post that will showcase a happening in the nieghbourhood of Old Louisville during Halloween time! Stay tuned!

The beauty of the internet and connectivity is meeting people from all over the world you may never had gotten a chance too, especially if like myself, have spent the last 20 years doing constant gigging. Because of this one doesn’t often get the time to experience other Musicians (unless you are on the same bill at the venue!) but in my time off from the stage, I have managed to get artwork done and research into other Artists and musicians. Previously, my artists have primarily focused on the visual arts, and this entry will be a treat for your ears.

Getting to “chat” with Witchdoctor Utu was a real treat. His world renowned Drumming group The Dragon Ritual Drummers is coming together of different faiths to honour many Spirits from different Tribes from all over the world. Utu himself is from Scotland, where a bulk of my family is from and honours and drums for African and Native American Deities, something that makes my very own Ancestors proud.

I hope to be able to catch one of their ritual drumming performances just for the sheer joy of being able to express my connection to all my Ancestors. Coming from a Dance Background and as a drummer myself, I couldn’t think of a better way to honour them.

Many thanks Witchdoctor Utu!

 Utu from the Dragon Ritual Drummers
How do you describe what you do? 

Our shows are interactive ritual performances, honoring spirits, deities and cultures that we either serve, or have manifested with in our troupe and its magiks.
How do you receive your inspirations? 
Our drum troupe is composed of members from the Niagara Pagan men’s Circle, and many of the members are also part of the Niagara Voodoo Shrine, as well we are the honorary drum guard for the New Orleans Voodoo Spiritual Temple, and also serve as Egungun drummers for the Yoruba Royal House of Rebuja and Prince Bamidele. With a fabric like that to draw from, inspiration is a constant flow here; at times we can barely keep up. But while serving in our various guises, we will as a unit realizes that there is a spirit realm or entity that has manifested or favored us, or needs to be honored. Once we see that happen, we try to then compose something in their honor. At times too one of the members could be sharing their personal magik or workings and a light goes off, and again its clear to us all that we need to go in that direction.
When did you first notice your connection to the Spirit World? 
Me personally since childhood. I was raised very eclectic by my mother, and we traveled much when I was a child to exotic locations, and saw early how different tribal peoples viewed religion and their practices. I was always involved in their ceremonies...that and being from Scotland, the spirit world and ancestors are a big part of our culture.
 As for the Dragon Ritual Drummers, the troupe started by workings that the men’s circle was doing, connecting to an indigenous serpent power that was once placated here in Niagara by the mound builders that once inhabited the region. When they were routed by the Iroquois nation, their water serpent of thunder was cast into a negative light by the conquering Iroquois (something they did throughout the Ohio River valley and the north east, their sky god hero would slay a horned serpent and free a maiden). We were connecting with it the horned water dragon, whose mystical lair is beneath Niagara Falls, and discovered how attainable it was, and decided to create some music in his honor, with no real plans other than one offering. It’s been 12 years and we have never looked back. Despite all the other nations of spirits we drum for, the local horned water serpent is our totem, and the deity we take our name from, and all our music and power comes first and foremost from him.
If you feel comfortable, can you share your faith or path with us?
 Half the Dragon Ritual Drummers are members of the Niagara Voodoo Shrine and our home temple in the New Orleans Voodoo Spiritual Temple. The other half are occultists with many paths behind them (none of us are young..anymore :))...But as a collective, we serve the local water serpent and his consort; The Maid of the Mist. That’s the foundation that all our spirituality as a collective rests upon. As half our troupe is also born in Europe, we have such a huge eclectic fabric that would be almost hard to define. We discover new spirit worlds all the time based on who are drumming for, whether that be an elder or temple. We serve with our hearts, make the necessary offerings to appease the spirits we are serving, and then ride that relationship as long as we can or has been ordained.
How does this faith/path express itself through your art? 

Every one of our drum songs is an expression of our faith, everyone one of them is homage to a deity or spirit world. Every member of the Dragon Ritual Drummers, past and present, has a custom tattoo in the likeness of our horned serpent. Our way to dedicate ourselves to the entity that made all this possible, a dedication in blood.
How can you be contacted about your work from interested collectors?
 Our web site is the hub for us, with links to all our social media, CDs, itunes and the likes.


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