Sambanui Part 2

I wasn’t sure what to expect at Sambanui, but I knew that with the awesome members of AKSamba by my side, it’d be at least a great weekend. As it turns out it was heaps better than that. Not only did I learn a lot (beats and stepping) from a very experienced, professional and easygoing teacher, but on return to AKSamba practise I felt much more confident too.

Sambanui wasn’t just about acquiring knowledge. I met a whole host of new like-minded people from around the country and, paradoxically, partied and chilled out in a world away from a typical weekend back home. Based in an outdoor camp that had no mobile signal away from towns and cities also meant there were no distractions from TXTs, email or Facebook. Total immersion in a positive way.

To perform on the last day in front of the public with the 70 or so band members and dancers from other baterias as one unit, and with all the information we had absorbed in the last three and half days, was amazing and awe-inspiring.

When I joined AK Samba, I never knew it would be as much fun and rewarding as this.


AKSamba off the grid

We are looking forward to joining a range of percussionists at Earth Songs – a night “off the grid” world music celebration.

Earth Songs features high-energy percussive music from Tamashii Taiko Drummers, African Drummers, Dubtext (live electronica!) and of course AKSamba.

For those of us who can’t make it down to WOMAD, we bring a slice of world music to the beautiful Kawai Purapura Retreat Centre in Albany, just 20 minutes’ drive from Auckland’s CBD.

It will be a fun, family-friendly, alcohol-free evening celebrating dance music from all over the world. There will also be a twilight eco market featuring food and stalls focusing on ecological sustainability.

The whole evening will be “off the grid”, powered without electricity.

Presales are just $15 from or $20 cash on the gate. Children 12 and under come free. Bring your instrument if you want to join in the jam at the end!

Earth Songs

My first gig

I was feeling an energetic combination of nerves, anticipation and excitement when I arrived at the Roller Derby on Saturday night for my first gig with AKSamba. The girls in helmets playing rugby on roller blades spurred me on, as too did the other band members. We played an awesome set at half time. I was buzzing. The crowd was fantastic. So there we go – I survived my first performance (alongside 3 other newcomers). Bring on the next one…

Kate at the Roller Derby

AKSamba says Feliz Navidad and have a nice break

The AKSamba group and whanau would like to extend our best wishes to all those individuals and organisations who have contributed in some way to a stellar year of samba-induced madness. 2011 has been a busy year for the group and we now pack away the earplugs, hang up our chocalhos, break out the bikinis and hit the beach for a well-deserved few weeks off.

However, intrepid reader, do not fear for your 2012 rhythm redemption as the new, improved, sunkissed AKSamba travelling roadshow experience will emerge from under the pohutukawa, fitter, faster, stronger and even more unbelievably gorgeous, ready to slave our souls in the search for samba nirvana.

Post guards on the watchtowers and look out for AKSamba as we kick off our 2012 schedule with gigs at the Auckland Botanical Gardens and Raglan’s Boardies and Bikinis festival.

AKSamba taking it to the streets

It is fair to say that the 2011 Rugby World Cup was an absolute blast for AKSamba. Thanks must go to the RWC organisers for choosing AKSamba as the preferred provider of rhythms and beats for the people. It was called the Rugby World Cup but it seems that samba was the winner on the day. Playing regular gigs is good for any band and AKSamba is in top form after a series of memorable gigs at Eden Park, Queens Wharf, the Fan Trail and the All Blacks victory parade. AKSamba sends a huge shout out and much love to the many fun rugby supporters from all over the world whom we met along the way.

As any well-informed rhythm enthusiast will tell you, AKSamba is on a mission to take the music to the streets and so was stoked to be part of the All Blacks victory parade in front of 200,000 screaming fans. A sea of endless streamers flew overhead as hysterical teenaged girls clawed at their faces and old ladies and grown men openly wept. A seething Queen Street throbbed to the booming sound of samba-reggae and the sweet smell of All Black victory. One of the best things about AKSamba is the people and to share that moment playing our music together was pretty freakin’ cool.

So normal transmission has been resumed and the suburbs return to their slumber, but not so the international beat perfectionist collective known as AKSamba. The search for rhythm nirvana continues, so be assured that while you sit there popping the bubblewrap that is your tragic little life take comfort from the fact that our team of dedicated samba ninjas are  hard out practicing for your rhythm salvation.

Break the suction and come and join AKSamba in welcoming the summer at the Grey Lynn Festival on Saturday 19 November. We are not just about the beats, as you know: AKSamba is a holistic experience full of colour, smiles and good vibes. Whether you should choose to admire the well-toned arms of our powerful surdo players as they belt out thundering beats or groove to the energy of our supremely fabulous shaker section, we look forward to seeing you and your friends there.


Fans come flocking for AKSamba

They are a thoughtful lot, these RWC mob. They know what works, they know how to put an event together, and like AKSamba, they know that the most important thing is the people. RWC know what the people need and that is why they got back to us. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to “activate” Great North Road. It is a long walk along the Fan Trail and the people need a non-lethal energy kick to get them along their way. We want you to “own it”: that was the word from Richie McCaw or someone high up, apparently.

AKSamba doesn’t dot down in the corner. We do contest the breakdown, but unlike the All Blacks forward pack, we don’t look to dominate. After all, AKSamba are lovers, not fighters. We were stoked when our country came calling in the need of rhythm dispensary , so of course “own it” we did. As any well-informed rhythm enthusiast will tell you, AKSamba is on a quest to take the beats to the streets, and thanks, RWC organisers, for the opportunity to do so. A sleek but rather gorgeous AKSamba entertained the sea of rugby supporters as they made their way along the Fan Trail to the big game. The positive energy of the supporters has been fantastic and is the sort of fuel that feeds the AKSamba fire. Even here in Aotearoa it is not every day that you see face-painted men in blue afro wigs, beautiful sexy dancers, a cow cocky farmer, a giant kiwi bird and a flock of people in sheep suits shaking their butts to the pumping groove of samba reggae. For two whole hours the mayhem continued as the powerful beat perfectionist collective AKSamba entertained passing fans.

And then they were gone… samba players, broken surdo skins and tumbleweeds blew across the Great North Road as somewhere a game was on.

AKSamba are in top form and perform at Eden Park next Saturday before the Wales v. France match. While we love and appreciate our many Australian friends, AKSamba says go the All Blacks!!




Pride, passion and AKSamba

You don’t have to be into rugby to appreciate the pride and passion that the fans of various cultures have brought to Aotearoa. AKSamba was stoked to be asked by Rugby World Cup organisers to perform for VIPs and supporters at the Samoa v. Fiji game at Eden Park last Sunday.

It was raining and sorta yuck outside but that never stopped Buck Shelford or Colin Meads and it done never stopped AKSamba neither.

Suit-clad ties and flag-waving face-painted freaks mingled together as enthusiastic rugby fans from both teams busted out all the moves to an AKSamba “A” Team that produced a performance described by our esteemed leader, the Ivan Cleary-like Darren, as “one of our very best”.

We got soaked to the skin but hardcore samba fundamentalists don’t mind because it’s all about the music, maan, and just like Samba Ninjas we, train for such possibilities.

Despite the weather it was generally felt that rhythm needed to be taken to the streets, and so we performed outside Kingsland station where amongst a sea of Pacific flavour we ran into a group of raucous beret-clad French fans complete with a samba-friendly guy on airhorn.

The rain came down on a cross-cultural Brazilian beat flavoured jam with French, Fijian, Samoaan, Kiwi and whoever else rugby supporters getting a groove on with the international beat perfectionist collective known as AKSamba. We powered through our “jungle” rhythm as much dancing, airhorn solos and shaker madness ensued.

As any well-informed rhythm enthusiast will tell you, AKSamba loves taking the music to the people and so we say thanks to Rugby World Cup organisers for asking us to be a part of the action.