Sun, April 05

Rhythms of Spring Planting comes to Old Town Cottonwood

Keith Johnson

Keith Johnson

Old Town Center for the Arts is pleased to present four special events during the third annual Spring Planting Festival in Verde Valley and Sedona, a week of activities, workshops, speakers and concerts from March 12-20.

The Rhythms of Spring Planting

World drummers Keith Johnson, Vusi Shibambo and the Arizona Dunun Ensemble join together to present 'The Rhythms of Spring Planting' on Saturday, March 12, at 7:30 pm. This special event will kick-off the 3rd Annual Spring Planting Festival, with host Richard Sidy, President of Gardens for Humanity, present to introduce and outline the week's schedule of activities.

Weaving traditional music, storytelling, and traditional dress, Keith, Vusi and the Ensemble will take you on a journey of entrainment that features the djembe and dunun drums. Legend tells us that drum rhythms have evolved from our ancestors singing while they worked at planting seeds, harvesting, grinding grain, and communicating with one another. In Africa, music is not merely an art form or means of self-expression -- it is truly a way of life. Every aspect of life is accompanied by music of the djembe. Noted historian Mamdy Keita states that "For centuries, the same rhythms have accompanied the farmer as he cultivates his field. These rhythms are as much part of reality as the acts themselves."

Of particular significance is the djembe's relationship to agriculture. It is believed that the goblet shape of the djembe may have come from a large pestle used for grinding grain. Together the women of the village created rhythms and songs while working with the mortar and pestle. Later, an instrument was created out of a single tree trunk, using the same basic shape, opened the bottom and stretched a goat skin over the top. Some of the same rhythms played using the mortar and pestle were then played on the djembe.

The evening will feature solo, duo and ensemble playing by some of the finest drummers in Arizona. Keith Johnson has been at the forefront of African drumming since the 1980's when he moved to Phoenix from the Washington, D.C. area. He has performed with many drum groups, including Kawambi, and has founded many groups as well.

Vusi Shibambo an international touring performer and recording artist, is a multi-instrumentalist, playing percussion, the African Djembe, udu, conga, Azhiko, and nagara drums, marimba, mbira (kalimba or finger piano), as well as the Bushman's haunting berimbau. The Arizona Dunun Ensemble is a musical group comprised of players from Sedona, Cornville, Cottonwood, Prescott, and Flagstaff, Arizona, and specializes in West African percussion. The Ensemble is dedicated to learning traditional rhythms and songs which accompany the Djembe, or "Jebe Bara," which means Drum of Unity.

Come and enjoy an evening of rhythm that is embedded deep within our collective memory, during the times of spring planting. Old Town Center for the Arts Is located at 5th Street & Main in Old Town Cottonwood. Tickets for 'The Rhythms of Spring Planting' are $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and $18 for priority seating in the first 3 rows. Tickets are available online at Tickets are also available in Cottonwood at: Jerona Java Café, Desert Dancer; and in Sedona at: Crystal Magic, and Golden Word Bookstore.  For upcoming events, visit For further information, contact Elena Bullard at 928-634-0940.

Poets, Authors and Musicians Celebrate 'Our Sacred Garden'

To celebrate the Third Annual Sedona-Verde Valley Spring Planting Festival an array of poets, musicians and authors will entertain festival attendees at Old Town Center for the Arts on Tuesday, March 15th at 7:00 pm.  Founder and former president of Gardens for Humanity, artist, activist and poet Adele Seronde, will highlight this special event by sharing themes from her soon to be released book 'Our Sacred Garden: The Living Earth."

"Everything in nature invites us to be what we are," states Christopher Lane. "She needs our love."  Joining Lane will be a striking cross-section of other poets, including Gary Every, Julia Zimmerman, Marcia Tanner, Adele Seronde and others. Accompanying the poets at discreet intervals will be the luminescent strings of Ani Williams, word-renowned harpist.  Also featured will be readings from "Our Sacred Garden: The Living Earth." The heart of this book is that if we choose to co-create with nature, the result will be a renewed and transcendent living earth. Readers will include authors Bennie Blake and James Bishop, Jr., editors of Seronde's book, which was born in her mind decades ago during a visit to the Chalice Well Garden in Glastonbury, England.

The proceeds for this event will go to Gardens for Humanity to help fund their many ongoing community projects. Tickets are $10 advance and $15 at the door. Tickets are available online at Tickets are also available in Cottonwood at: Jerona Java Café, Desert Dancer; and in Sedona at: Crystal Magic, and Golden Word Bookstore.  For upcoming events, visit For further information, contact Elena Bullard at 928-634-0940.


St. Patrick and What it Really Means to Be Green!

Independent and scholarly, St. Patrick was more than the patron saint of shamrocks and green beer. What can we learn from this celebrated human being in relation to our current efforts at bioregionalism, self-reliance and even gardening?  Join the Spring Planting Festival at the Old Town Center for the Arts, March 17th at 7 p.m. for a soiree into the life and times of St. Patrick. Bill McDorman will recount the Thomas Cahill story of How the Irish Saved Civilization and use St. Patrick as an example to inspire us as we move forward into the 21st century.

Singer musician Connie Fisher will add to the evenings 'stories' with Celtic music from the ancient Gaelic language. Also contributing will be musician instrument maker William Eaton with music of the ancient 'lyre' and it's place in the celebration of the ritual of planting and gathering.

Bill McDorman President of Seeds Trust has been lecturing on vegetable gardens, wildflowers, herbs, native landscapes and grasses for over 25 years. Bill is credited with bringing over 60 varieties of Siberian tomatoes back to the states in 1989 following his trip behind the Iron Curtain.  This is a unique opportunity to spend an evening with one of the most experienced, engaging and passionate people in the field. Bill graduated with a degree in philosophy from the University of Montana and weaves historical and philosophical perspectives into all his presentations. His stories are rich and colorful. He is a delightful presenter and inspires his attendees to connect deeply with the world in which they live.

Each attendee for this event will receive a pack of seeds, suited for our local high desert climate. Tickets for St. Patrick's Day 'Green' Celebration are $12 advance, $15 at the door and $18 for Priority Seating in first 3 rows. Tickets are available online at and at Jerona Java Café, and Desert Dancer in Cottonwood; and in Sedona at: Crystal Magic, and Golden Word Bookstore. For upcoming events, visit For further information, contact Elena Bullard at 928-634-0940.

Backyard Gardening Expo

The third annual Backyard Gardening Expo will be held on Sunday, March 20th and begins at 2 p.m. This will be the final day of the Spring Planting Festival, and is hosted by the Verde Thumbs Garden Club. The event will include a series of lectures to answer real life garden questions, and 'all you want to know' about: composting, vermiculture, seasonal planting, wildlife and gardens, bugs and problem solving, irrigation management, low water crops, rain water harvesting and the opportunity to purchase seeds, soil amendments and more at booths inside and outside of the theater at Old Town Center for the Arts. This event is free to the public.

For further information about the Backyard Gardening Expo or any of the events at Old Town Center for the Arts please visit or call 928-634-0940.

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