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Mr. Will’s Favorite Moments of American Music Abroad Tour 2015

Belize

  • I was able to hear steel drums live for the first time ever as performed by a student band.
  • Traded drumsticks with a young drummer, Christian, who took a real interest in my playing and in the Zydeco style of drumming.
  • Had a jam session at Fido’s a local watering hole in San Pedro. I got to play some Brukdown music, the indigenous music of Belize.
  • Had the chance to sit next to Mayor Danny Guerrero of San Pedro at a dinner party.
  • I was able to drive a golf cart for the first time ever in my life!

Panama

  • On our day off, I walked through a nature trail and was able to see the city and skyscrapers from a distance – I was very impressed with the size of the city. I also happened to meet a gentleman from Idaho!
  • When we drove to the Darien Provence, we were able to see many examples of indigenous dance and folk music. While they were dancing in a circle, I asked the translator to ask their drummer to explain the rhythm to me. Not only did he help but three other drummers rushed over to help explain it. After my lesson, one drummer said to the other, “he’s got it now!” I later worked that rhythm into a Mo’ Mojo performance.

Mexico

  • Started my adventure in Mexico by climbing a giant serpent statue in a public park (it was designed to be climbed on). I climbed to the top, which was pretty high!
  • In Veracruz, at our concert, we were joined by a quartet of string musicians and we performed a version of “La Bamba” with them – I used the rhythm I learned from the drummers in Panama during that performance.
  • Later, in Izamal, I loved eating traditional Yucatan food and I got to see the women making fresh tortillas in the stone oven. I also climbed a pyramid in Izamal and I have never seen a city painted in so much yellow. Not sure why, but this was my favorite spot on the trip – maybe because it is supposed to be a mystical city.

Barbados

  • After our big concert at the Errol Barrow Center on Valentine’s Day, we had a great time the next day at the Barbadian Ambassador’s home. Mr. Larry Palmer was very welcoming and congenial. We were able to hang out with local musicians from Barbados as well. That led to a jam session later at a local night club in the Saint Lawrence Gap.
  • On an off day, we went to Harrison’s Cave – it was my first time ever in a cave!
  • I discovered a new beverage – Vita-Malt, a sweet, malt-flavored energy drink.

Colombia

  • I received very loud applause from our concert audience when Jen announced that it was my birthday on February 24th! I was thrilled J
  • In Pereira, I developed a friendship with Carlos, a server at our hotel. I speak very little Spanish so I was trying to use phrases from my book. When he realized I didn’t speak much Spanish he helped me by both of us looking at the book. Every time after that when I returned to the restaurant, he rushed over to help me. When I was checking out, in broken English he wished me well and hoped that that I would come back. I shook and his hand and said “amigos?” to which he replied “si, amigos!”
  • On the street in Manizales, I tried to bargain with the street merchants and had to ask passersby to help with translation. My reward – I came home with a very cool green agate necklace!
  • One of our hosts, Michael Cardena, became a friend as we both bonded over our love for coffee.
  • Cable car ride in Manizales.
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