Greetings from Sandblast,
Hope you have had an enjoyable summer and feel recharged again to enjoy the active months ahead. We are now back in action and in this issue will highlight exciting news and developments since our Mid-summer Western Sahara Festival, in July, along with upcoming events which you shouldn’t miss.
Standing Man EP now available!
We are thrilled to announce that the Standing Man EP, recorded in the camps by singer-songwriter Pia de Keyser, is finally ready to be heard by the world.
Standing Man refers to the Moroccan soldiers that have been standing on the 2700km-long military wall in Western Sahara for 30 years. It was recorded at the Studio-Live equipped studio of the Saharawi National Music School by our very own Studio-Live-trained sound engineers. Read more.
Stave House in the Sahara back to the refugee camps
We are very excited that our colleague Violeta Ruano will be returning to the Saharawi refugee camps for 3 months in October for the second stage of the early music education project Stave House in the Sahara. There is still time to become a sponsor of one of the children for only £30. Interested?
Sandblast is delighted to be one of the main partners of this project. We are deeply grateful to Ruth Travers from Stave House for generously donating the programme to the camps and to The London College of Music which has supported the project in various ways. These partnerships along with some amazing support we've received from individual donors has made it possible for things to happen and develop. We're also thrilled to announce that Oxfam Solidarité (Belgium) have recently given €2500 to refurbish a room to create a music-making space for children, in the camp of Boujdour, in support of Stave House in the Sahara. Read more
Fundraising and Run the Sahara
2016 has been spectacular fundraising year for Sandblast. In total, we have raised nearly £30,000 for our project work in the Saharawi refugee camps. This has been thanks to the amazing efforts of our 2016 Run the Sahara runners and also to the generosity of donors who have shown support for our projects in the camps, which currently are:
Saharawi Artivism Fund (SAF), Studio-Live Local and Stave House in the Sahara.
We now have a nice group of runners coming together for the 2017 Run the Sahara race in the Algerian Sahara next February. We hope to recruit at least 5 more people to join before the registration deadline on December 15. Please help us spread the word!. And if you are a former particpant, we would love you to encourage others to join us in 2017.
Donations and Van hunting
This year has also been a great year for music equipment donations made in support of Studio-Live Local. We got a mint-shaped 24-track Tascam mobile recording studio in July and in early September a lovely electric guitar from David in Yorkshire.
Our next big mission is to get all the donations of the past 18 months transported in a donated or second-hand van, down to the camps, by the end of this year. If anyone loves these kinds of ventures and would like to help us please get in touch. We really need it!
Olive Branch Arts Cabaret Extravaganza on Sept 18
Come along for this fun night of fund-raising for their work with youth, women and theatre in the Saharawi refugee camps. Click here to book tickets
Music of Exile film teaser
Have you heard of the upcoming film Music of Exile from the Saharawi of Western Sahara? Directed and recorded by Katch Holmes it will be featured at WOMEX '16 in Santiago de Compostela (Spain) next Oct 21. Click on the pic to watch a short teaser and get inspired by the revolutionary history of Saharawi music!
We're so excited to announce that today 15 UK runners are joining the Sandblast Team in the Saharawi refugee camps to participate next Tuesday in the 2015 edition of the Sahara Marathon. They'll stay with a Saharawi family for a week, experiencing life in the desert and the best hospitality you can get. They'll also visit the Studio-Live project on the ground to see what they are raising funds for.
This year we have set up shop in the studio space of the Saharawi National Music School where our runners will meet our wonderful sound engineers-in-training and witness some recording sessions. Our aim with the funds raised through sponsorship of the UK runners is to build a sound engineering training centre next to the music school and expand our programme. Please show your support and help us reach this goal by sponsoring one of our team runners at Just Giving - Run the Sahara 2015.
2013 closes as a fantastic year for Studio-Live. We hope the next year is even better!
September 2013 – A second Studio Live workshop in sound recording concluded on Sept 18 with a showcasing of music tracks recorded and mixed by our fabulous technical team being trained in the Saharawi refugee camps, near Tindouf in SW Algeria. The music was played through the PA Stagepas 660i newly acquired by Sandblast for the project. Our founding director, Danielle, who had arrived a few days earlier, was there to hand out certificates to the six students (3 boys and 3 girls) after completing the intensive 12-day training period with Sara McGuinness. Numerous musicians also collaborated during the workshop to take advantage of the opportunity to be professionally recorded and give a chance for the students to do practical exercises in how to run a recording session. The workshop was set up this time in the headquarters of the Saharawi youth organisation, known by its acronym the UJSARIO, in the camp of Boujdour. This has been possible thanks to the official invitation and facilitation offered by female governor Ezza Brahim to hold the Studio-Live workshop in her newly established camp.
At Sandblast we've been busy throughout the first half of the year developing the different strands of our music empowerment project Studio-Live. Here's a summary of activities:
January 2013 – The Sandblast Team travelled to Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) to help coordinate a Historical Encounter of Saharawi Musicians living in Spain at the Music Conservatory of Music ‘Jesús Guridi’. The meeting, organised in collaboration with legendary revolutionary singer Oum Reghia, gathered more than 40 musicians and cultural figures, including singer Oum Dleila, musician Bachir Sidi, composer and guitarist Ali Mohamed, poet Ali Salem Iselmu, and young musicians Yslem and Lehsen, among many others. Studio-Live was presented for the first time in Spain. Throughout the day, interesting conversations sparkled around Saharawi music, its role in the struggle and its current state. The day-long event concluded with a concert in the evening, given by a number of the attending musicians, who delighted the audience with legendary songs such as ‘Sahara is not for sale’, by Oum Reghia, and ‘A song to the martyrs’, by Oum Dleila, who had not sung in more than 8 years.
2012 has been an incredible year for the development of our music empowerment project Studio-Live. Here we give you a summary of what we've been up to so far!
February-March 2012 – The Studio-Live team, made up this time of Danielle and Violeta Ruano (Sandblast), spent two weeks in the camps. We participated in Run the Sahara 2012 as part of the UK group who were raising funds for Studio-Live. The trip included a cultural day organized by Sandblast where all the runners could enjoy learning about Saharawi traditions and music with fantastic group Salwan. We also interviewed different musicians across generations about their ideas, dreams and aspirations, discussing Studio-Live and the development of Saharawi music in the near future with them, and gaining a much better idea on the best way for them to take full advantage of the project. We visited the recently inaugurated ENAMUS and learned about the work they plan to develop there. Music director Leily and coordinator Lebsir introduced us to the students and showed us the facilities, including the space where the recording studio is being set up. Sandblast also provided the means to install Internet in the school and discussed possibilities for a more reliable source of energy than the current generator.
Now that we've just come back from the Saharawi refugee camps after another wonderful trip, here we give you a summary of our Studio-Live music empowerment project so far:
September-October 2010 – The Studio-Live team, made up of Danielle Smith and Steve Stavrinides (Fairtunes), travelled to the camps for the first time to meet with the Ministry of Culture and establish a partnership with them for the project. This was the occasion when agreements were made to provide training for live concerts, as this was identified as a priority by the Minister, and also to assist in equipping of the studio that would be set up in the new Saharawi National Music School (ENAMUS) that was being built in the camps.
March 2011 – We came back with new member Nick Minton (Fairtunes) to do recordings of established and emerging Saharawi musicians, such as traditional music group Tahadi and new band Zeeza. We also did a short session with Tiris, who are developing incredible new material. London-based Algerian darbucka player Karim Dellali joined us to see how he could contribute his skills. In the second week of the trip, we were ecstatic about the arrival of the Sandblast-Fairtunes donated van full of sound equipment for live, which was stored in the Ministry of Culture to be used in the first training workshops.
News about Sandblast & Western Sahara