The beat goes on

Ubaka Hill

Ubaka Hill is on a mission. A drummer for over 35 years, her life’s work has been about performing and teaching “the art and spirit of drumming,” as she refers to it. “I play music for soulful change,” says Hill, “music that moves you to joy and to social change.”

She’s mindful that behind every drum played was once a living tree. “We love the music of drums,” says Hill, “and we love to dance and listen and play our wooden instruments; and yet sometimes we don’t make that connection with the environment where the drums come from.” To that end, Hill has initiated the Million Women Drummers’ Gathering (MWDG), to be held next October as “a global celebration of conscious action for love of drums and trees,” encouraging the planting of one million trees in cities, towns, neighborhoods and villages worldwide. “One tree came to me in the form of a drum,” Hill says, “and I need to replace one tree as a way to say ‘Thank you’ and maintain that precarious balance of growth and use.”

In order to share the vision of the Million Women Drummers’ Gathering, Ubaka Hill and MWDG Advisory Council members will host a free afternoon meet-and-greet event from 2 to 5 p.m. this Saturday, October 20 at the Colony Café in Woodstock. “The meet-and-greet will be very informal,” says Hill. “We’re inviting everyone in the community to bring their drums and other wooden instruments and play music together.”

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Light refreshments will be served, and there’ll be special drums on exhibit as well, from the collection that Hill has been building since 1990. “And everyone is welcome, including men,” she says.

The meet-and-greet will be followed by “Music of the Trees,” a fundraising concert later that evening from 8 to 11 p.m., also at the Colony Café in Woodstock. “We’ve invited musicians that care about the environment, who love their wooden instruments and who support the vision of the MWDG,” says Hill. “We’ll have a women’s drumming group from the Buffalo area, and some wonderful local and regional musicians, including Alex Dobkin, Julia Haines and Aleah Long.” Ubaka Hill will also perform. A suggested $20 donation for the concert is requested, to serve as seed money to launch awareness leading up to the summit to be held next fall.

Beyond the mission to plant trees, the vision of the MWDG is about creating new models of behavior, adds Hill, mindful expressions of conscious action. “In this case, the conscious action is planting a tree: one person, one instrument, one tree,” she says.

A free meet-and-greet community event to raise awareness about the Million Women Drummers’ Gathering will be held on Saturday, October 20 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Colony Cafe, located at 22 Rock City Road in Woodstock. Light refreshments will be served. All are welcome to attend and bring drums or other wooden instruments to play. A “Music of the Trees” benefit concert will follow at the Colony Cafe at 8 p.m. A $20 donation is suggested. Ample parking is available. For more information, call the Colony Cafe at (845) 679-8639 or visit www.millionwomendrummers.com and www.ubakahilldrumsong.com.