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  • Brother John Anderson

Brother John Anderson Tells

Date: May 11, 2024

Event: Spring on the Farm

Venue: Watkins Woolen Mill State Park


Presenter: John "Brother John" Anderson


A beautiful spring it was at Watkins Mill Park. Originally, I had requested for a stationary spot to present my interactice program, "Brother John's African Folktales." Ironically, I prefer not to be a roaming style storyteller. However (in a positive sense), I was coaxed out of my personal comfort zone. Busking seemed very ideal for that.


the day's events (in terms of my patrons) was very slow. I had nobody visiting my presenting area. As I finished setting up my presenter area and stated warming up on my Djembe drum (I usually begin with a Harambe drum and call -- Harambe in the East Afrifan language of Swahili means, "Let's pull/come together"). It was at that point where I was being coaxed by a couple of old-time, latter 1800s fiddle and guitar musicians. They waved for me to come and sit in on their jam session. I stayed with them for about 30-40 minutes. Come to find out, we have mutual good musician friends in common.


As I ventured back to the presentation area under the shade tree, I noticed that the shade was no longer. the high, midday sun had removed the shadow. A couple came strolling along by my area. After exchanging pleasant greetings, they noticed I was carrying my Djembe. I began entertaining their curiosity with the story regarding the origin of the "Talking/Happy" drum. I asked the gentleman if he would liek to play. his wife eagerly coaxed him to tap out of a few rhythms, chiming in and whipping out her phone, "Let me snap a pic to send your older brother. You know he's a drummer. He would dig this!"


The impromptu greetings and enrichment story chats continued. One incident in paricular stuck with me as a memorable experience. A lady came strolling by with her husband and their pre-schooler son. She had her older teenage son escorting him arm-in-arm. The young man was developmentally challenged. He didn't speak. However, when I introduced myself to the family and asked if he wished to play the Djembe. He proceeded to tap out a few beats. I chatted with his parents for a few moments. as they were bidding farewell and turning to leave, the teen seemed to not want to go. Turning towards me, his mom exclaimed, "Wow! This is the first time he's smiled all day!"As he turned to leave, he left me with a broad, enthusiastic smile of pure joy that stretched across his face.

These are the connections that are, like the adage in that credit card commercial, "PRICELESS!"

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