Sunday, July 29, 2012

Major photo feature on Master Musicians of Joujouka Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival 2008

Kings of the Stone Age by Mark Paytress and photos by Jill Furmanovsky

This is an amazing 11 page photo feature on the Master Musicians of Joujouka Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival held in Joujouka on this day in 2008. Words are by Rolling Stone's expert Mark Paytress and photos by global legend Jill Furmanovsky.  Click link to read PDF, print or download.

Booking for the 2013 edition is open now on Master Musicans of Joujouka "Kings of the Stone Age" Photos Jill Furmanovsky words Mark P...

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Master Musicians of Joujouka feature in The Wire 1995

Article by Chris Campion in The Wire 1995 on the Master Musicians of Joujouka and Master Musicians of Jajouka featuring Bachir Attar

Brian Jones recorded Master Musicians of Joujouka LP 44 years ago today

Cover of the promotion press package  for Brian Jones presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka (Rolling Stones Records 1971)
On July 29th July 1968 Mohamed Hamri brought Brian Jones, Brion Gysin, Brian's girlfriend Suki Potier, Olympic Studios recording engineer George Chkiantz and a select group to his native village for a recording session that would influence the lives of hundreds of villagers and 10s of thousands of music lovers. The resulting LP was released in 1971 2 years after Brian Jones' death on Rolling Stones records. It was the first release on the Rolling Stones own label. Having witnessed the Master Musiicans playing their strongest Brian said
"I don't know if I have the stamina incredible constant strain of the Festival".

 Brian died in July 1969, Suki Poiter died in a tragic car accident with her husband in 1982, Brion Gysin died in July 1986, Mohamed Hamri in 2000 and the last Master still alive who played on the recording is Mallim Ali El Attar who is 102 years old.
In 2008 Master Musicians of Joujouka celebrated the 40th Anniversary of Brian Jones's recording with a festival in their village. It has been running ever since in his honor and in honor of the traditions of the village.
The festival since 2009 has been moved to June to avoid the likely 40 degree temperatures in late July. Booking for 2013 festival is available  To ensure a place book now. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Musical Mecca Irish Times on Master Musicians 2012 Festival

Click on image below to read article Words by Kevin Barrington images by Herman Vanaershot 

The Irish Times Magazine
14 Jul 2012

Or read here

A musical mecca

GO MOROCCO : A small festival in the foothills of Morocco’s Rif mountains has become a place of sonic pilgrimage for artists, thrill-seekers and rock stars, writesKEVIN BARRINGTON 
ARRIVING IN THE village of Joujouka in the foothills of Morocco’s Rif mountains, it’s easy to see that electricity and mobile phones are relatively recent arrivals while running water has yet to make an appearance. Far less discernible, however, is the fact that the village is a musical Mecca, a place of pilgrimage for artists, oddballs, thrill-seekers and sonic subversives.
Although it is only a couple of hours drive south of Tangiers, Joujouka is well off the tourist track and home to only a few hundred people. Yet the village’s visitor list reads like a counter-culture’s Who’s Who, featuring a host of such iconic figures as William Burroughs, Brian Jones and Timothy Leary. One of the latest in a long list of those seduced by Joujouka’s charm is Frank Rynne, the former frontman of Irish group The Baby Snakes, who is now a doctoral student of history at Trinity College Dublin.
Rynne became involved with the village’s Sufi trance musicians when the Moroccan painter Hamri introduced him to the place about 20 years ago. He now manages the Master Musicians of Joujouka and for the past five years has been hosting a small annual festival in the village showcasing the group’s talents.
Rynne tries to maintain a balance between providing the musicians with a living and protecting traditional village life from an invasion of hordes of Western hipsters. This year’s festival attracted about 50 guests. “That’s the most people we feel we can have without creating too much chaos and jettisoning the unique intimate charm that brings people back year after year,” he says.
Although there’s stunning scenery, great hospitality and excellent food, Rynne says he is not comfortable with the term “boutique festival”.
“Joujouka is a farming village. It’s pretty basic. We’re certainly not talking chichi here,” he says. If the festival had a programme, it would run like this: a sheep is slaughtered, bread is broken, talk is had and then the musicians kick off until dawn looms and the first cry of the muezzin signals time for bed.
The wild Byzantine sound of the Master Musicians has led to collaborations with the Rolling Stones, jazz experimentalist Ornette Coleman and, more recently, Jane’s Addiction. Rynne brought Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins to the village to see the group in action. Beat writer and artist Brion Gysin was perhaps the main person responsible for taking the group to a wider audience. “I want to hear that music every day of my life,” Gysin said after he had first heard the Masters in the 1950s. In his book The Process, Gysin paints a vivid picture of the life and sounds of Joujouka at that time. He brought his friend and colleague William Burroughs to listen to the group and he too was enraptured.Burroughs later told Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page that the feeling of energy and exhilaration he experienced at one of Zeppelin’s gigs was similar to what he had felt in Morocco listening to the Masters. Acid guru Timothy Leary shared Burroughs’ enthusiasm for the group’s sound and labelled the Masters a “4,000 year old rock ’n’ roll band”.
Joujouka looks like just a small, poor but idyllic, mountain village. Its true allure, its wild spectral nature, comes alive and makes sense only when the first notes of music ring out. When the Masters start with their pipes and drums — ghiata and tibel — and merge with the braying of donkeys and the chorus of crickets, they form the perfect soundtrack to complement the vast, surprisingly lush vista of the rolling foothills of the Rif Mountains.
When the Masters get into their groove, pumping out astonishing volume with their acoustic instruments, you understand instantly why this is a place of sonic pilgrimage. Like sean nós on the Aran Islands or blues in the Mississippi Delta, this is local history and culture brilliantly captured and conveyed in sound and rhythm.
The pipes scream North Africa with its serpentine souks and bewildering mosaics, while underneath, the drums beat out a hypnotising African rhythm. This is the sound of the Maghreb, underpinned by pure primordial rhythm.
The keen ear catches snatches of all the very best of world music. A little Irish here. A touch of Miles Davis there. A flash of gypsy Balkan. Then the Velvet Underground. And somewhere in a white noise finale there’s a flicker of Radiohead. Anita Pallenberg, a guest at the first year’s festival and former partner of both Brian Jones and Keith Richards, said she particularly loved the group’s “Zeppelin riffs”. When it comes to taking a throbbing circular rhythm and upping the adrenalin-drenched tempo, there isn’t a superstar DJ from Chicago to the Balearics who has anything new to teach the Masters.
At the end of the first night, I complimented musician Ahmed Attar, telling him that he was Islam’s Elvis. The master of the Masters looked quizzically at me and replied: “Shkun Elvis?” Who is Elvis?
The Masters are no strangers to five-hour sets and they tend to kick off where most of the best Western rock ’n’ roll winds up. They take what we know as a few frenzied minutes of encore and carry it on for an hour or more. Finally the audience, assaulted by bass and bewildered by treble, loses itself in ecstatic trance.
The music’s religious origins lie in this saintly sonic bliss. This is Sufi religious transcendence fuelled by pagan passion. According to Gysin, the musicians hold a secret, hidden even from themselves: they practise “the Rites of Pan under the ragged cloak of Islam”. The musicians weave arabesque soundscapes, the intensity building. When the Muezzin’s cry sent the revellers to bed, one guest shook his head in bewilderment: “If the Yanks had any cop on, they would close Gitmo and send the Jihadis to Joujouka and subject them, not to torture, but to this sublime sound.”
Sunday night saw a primordial panoply of fire, magic, dance, beauty, lust and fertility. Forging the most intricate of aural jewellery, the Masters brought the night to a crystalline climax.
Rynne explained that the spiritual power of the music originates with Sidi (saint) Ahmed Sheikh, a learned Persian scholar who brought Islam to northern Morocco around 800AD. The Sufi saint is buried in the village shrine and legend has it that he blessed the music of the Master Musicians giving them the power to heal the sick and the crazy.
To this day, the ill chain themselves to a fig tree in the courtyard of the shrine seeking solace. The Masters then come, play to the infirm and blow their madness away. “Electric shock treatment? Give me this cure any day,” Rynne said.
The group, whose current line-up ranges in age of 40-80 years, has been going for centuries and the skills are passed down from father to son. Their sublime Sufi sound strikes quite a contrast to the popular perception of Islam, which is dominated by the dour Wahhabi sect promoted by Saudi Arabia.
Shattering stereotypes, the Masters opened the Glastonbury festival on the main Pyramid stage last summer with an Islamic blessing before delivering a rousing set of ancient rock ’n’ roll. They then left the stage to younger and less experienced musicians such as U2 who have also cited the Masters as an influence.
Getting there 
The 2013 Master Musicians of Joujouka Festival takes place June 7th-9th with tickets costing €350. Booking is available on The three-night ticket includes the pick up and return to the train station in the nearby town of Ksar El Kebir, music, food, accommodation, soft drinks, bottled water, tea and coffee. Guests stay in the homes of the musicians.
There are no direct flights from Ireland to the north of Morocco. Ryanair fly to Tangier from Paris (Beauvais) and Brussels (Charleroi). Easyjet fly to Tangier from Paris (Charles de Gaulle).
While there are direct flights from Dublin to Agadir, it is some 700km from Ksar El Kebir and there is no direct train service. Scheduled services with Royal Air Maroc operate from Heathrow and
Paris Orly.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Master Musicians of Joujouka Festival 2013 booking now open for 14-16 June 2013.

The Master Musicians of Joujouka Festival 2013 booking now open for 14-16 June 2013. 

Sunset through the ancient olive trees at the Sufi shrine pic Frank Rynne

Boujeloud 2012 by Herman Vanaershot
The Master Musicians of Joujouka's annual summer festival began in 2008 with the Master Musicians Brian Jones 40th Anniversary Festival.     
The festival is a true micro festival and has received rave  writes ups  and reports from Mojo, The Guardian, Liberation, BBC with forthcoming pieces from Al Jazeera and The Irish Times.
The ideology of the festival  is to allow a very small group of people the opportunity to hang out and live in the village for a few days with the Master Musicians as their hosts.   Numbers are therefore strictly limited in order to ensure that people have a unique and personal experience in the village and with their individual and collective hosts The Master Musicians of Joujouka. There will be some people on hand who have long connections with the village who speak French, Arabic and English and any questions you have while in the village can be addressed as your comfort and enjoyment is key to the continued success of this truly unique experience.
Afternoon session pic Phil Hostak

Naturally the highlight of the festival is the three days of music and the intimate access to the Masters, the spectacular vistas and the hospitality.

Above Slide show from 2011 Festival "Joujouka Some Stones" by Hermann Vanaerschot click to view

Press from recent years Click on title to go to article

You will be  collected  at EL Ksar El Kebir  train station (see for trian times from all Moroccan cities) on June 8th by prior  arrangement with the festival. Having been collected at the train  station you  will be transported to the village.You will be returned to Ksar El Kebir to meet your connections after the Festival. Due to the high demand for 2013 only  3 day tickets are available. If you wish to come for one or two days please email for rates and availability.

The cave of Boujeloud by Victoria Stephenson 2012

Magara  cave of Boujeloud situated about 1km from the village by Lars Movin  2010 

What is included in ticket price 
The ticket price includes your meals, soft drinks, bottled water, tea, coffee, accommodation and forward and return  transport to the village from Ksar El Kebir  in order to meet your connections .
The Master Musicians will perform each day both informally and with full performances each night. Guests stay with the Master Musicians of Joujouka in their homes.

Lunch 2010 photo by Joachim Montessuis
The food is excellent. We can cater for vegetarians easily and vegans with a far bit of hassle but we do so every year.
Breakfast at the house of Master Musicians leader Ahmed El Attar by Phil Hostak
The festival (ie The Master Musicians and the villagers) provide all  meals. Food is sourced locally.
Friday 14th June  lunch and dinner.
Saturday 15th June  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
16th  Breakfast,  lunch and dinner.
17th. Breakfast and transport to Ksar El Kebir to meet your train or onward connections.

Snacks are available at your host families house as required!!! They may appear to be meals in themselves.

 Figs fresh from the trees in Joujouka 2010 photo Tomas McGrail White
The festival is restricted in numbers of guests to ensure you have a very chilled out and personal experience of life in the village. We provide your bottled water plus tea, coffee. Alcohol is prohibited in the village!!

The House where Brian Jones stayed in 1968 with well and fig trees by Manno Franco 2009
You will accommodated with the family of one of the Master Musicians.

Relaxing in the home of Ahmed Attar pic Syra Trek
Breakfast is served in the house you stay in and you will be accommodated in a room to yourself or with your friends or partner.  Let us know your desired accommodation arrangements when you are contacted after your booking or email before hand if you have any queries. You will not be sharing a room with strangers. 
All your  personal  arrangements will be worked out by email or phone with you before you arrive.

During the day the Master Musicians play in an informal way and   most people hang out as they please at their HQ/house / school while each night the Master Musicians of Joujouka perform  their ritual music.
Inside the courtyard of the  home of Master Musician Abdelslam Errtoubi Photo Lars Movin 2010

The easiest  airport to come from if you are only coming to Morocco for the festival is Tanger with train connections from Tanger Ville ( Taxi costs 100 MAD).  However  Fez and Casablanca are 4 hours train journey from El Ksar El Kebir (Marrakesh is 8 hours) so any airport is good except Agadir which has no direct train connections.

The vista from the grave of Mohamed Hamri by Maki Kita
This year we are facilitating installment payments of 50.You can use the same button to pay a single deposit that will ensure you a reserved place at the festival subject to balance being paid. If you require assistance or further information email

Using the paypal button below you can pay for a full ticket for the 3 day event at €350 or a €50 non refundable deposit or if you have paid a deposit and wish to pay the balance of €300.


Full Balance is payable by 1 March 2013 unless you have made a prior arrangemnet with festival by emailing Deposit will forfeited on cancellation. However if you pay in full before 1 March and cancel on or before 1 March the balance above 50 euros will be returned to you within 7 days.

Master Musicans of Joujouka Festival 14-16 June 2013. Guests will leave morning of 17th.

Master Musicians of Joujouka Mali mal M'Halmaz Everyone is together by MasterMusiciansofJoujouka

Master Musicians of Joujouka Brain Jones 40th Anniversary Festival 2008

Guests chatting after lunch copyright Herman Vanaershot
Post lunch relaxing in the performance tent photo copyright Herman Vanaershot

Boujeloud in the flames, photo by Robert Hampson master Musicians of Joujouka Festival 2010