Dolly Parton takes to the stage with drumming sensation, Drumstruck

Dolly Parton and Drumstruck at Festival of Nations

Dolly Parton and Dollywood celebrates the 34th Grand Opening Season with “Festival of Nations” at Dollywood on March 16, 2019. Picture: Supplied © Curtis Hilbun / Dollywood.

Article originally published on IOL, 15 April 2019.

Seven local drumming masters are making their way home after sharing a stage with award-winning country music legend Dolly Parton, at one of the largest theme parks in the USA.

Drum Café’s Drumstruck team – consisting of Mpho Rasenyalo, Patrick Pobee, Richard Carter, Sabelo Mgaga, Bafana Mahlangu, Emmanuel Quaye and Joshua Zacheus – entertained international audiences with their interactive drumming theatre experience at Dollywood, in Tennessee, USA. They performed in the popular Festival of Nations at the Dollywood theme park, which attracts close to three million visitors a year.

The local performers participated in the 2019 opening ceremony of Dollywood, with Parton exclaiming that she had been left “dumbstruck by Drumstruck”. Parton joined the South African cast at their opening show, wearing a drum and playing it on stage with Drumstruck.

In her opening talk, Parton emphasised the importance of connecting through the international language of music. She introduced Drumstruck, describing them as group that “will get your heart pumping”.

“Meeting Dolly Parton and performing with her was one of many highlights for the performers. She joined the performers backstage and spent time getting to know them – it’s a memory that the entire cast will treasure,” says Drum Café founder Warren Lieberman.

“Dolly Parton is an icon whose popularity is at an all-time high, so being affiliated with her is a defining moment for the Drumstruck crew.”

Drumstruck showcases South African music and culture, drawing on gumboot rhythms and Zulu dancing, while weaving in West African influences. Over 80 000 people attended Drumstruck in the beautiful Palace Theatre, where they performed for 900 people playing 900 drums, three times a day for 5 weeks – and closed to standing ovations.

The team took 1000 drums on the trip, to allow them to share traditional African drumming techniques with the international audiences. The performers will be making their way home to South Africa on Tuesday 16 April.

Drumstruck was developed due to the popularity of Drum Café’s corporate entertainment events, as a way for the public to participate in the interactive drumming experience. The theatre show has proven to be so popular that audience members frequently return to see the show again, often as many as three or four times.

Dollywood has not been the only high-profile performance Drumstruck has given. The master drummers have shared the stage with Shakira, Will.Iam, K’naan, 30 Seconds to Mars and performed at the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China.

They have also toured Japan, Korea, Australia, and Scotland, amongst others and enjoyed an almost two year run off-Broadway in New York. The show embodies the same principles taught by Drum Café, educating guests about African music and the heritage of drumming, while connecting people through the joy of playing a drum.


The comfort Zone is the enemy for conferences.


Humans need synchronised group activities to be healthy, but they can also use them as a tool to be focussed and energised.

Humans , especially in the west are abandoning group synchronised activities in exchange for more virtual and solo activities.
WE only really “become present” at an event when we connect with others.

That magic happens OUTSIDE the comfort zone. When delegates sit and watch presentations for a certain amount of time , their ability to absorb information declines dramatically.
Mobile phones are a pure manifestation of comfort zone and the opposite of being present and focussed.

Over the last 16 years we have pinpointed this as being the biggest challenge to a successful event : How do you get your delegates to really hear the message of your meeting?
In meetings and events, sometimes we sacrifice the very reason for a meeting by allowing people to disconnect and isolate themselves.
The core idea of this presentation is about how the more connected people are during a conference, the more effective it will be.
The power of physical meetings as opposed to virtual meetings ( including webcam , telephone etc) is the ancient phenomenon of “group energy” which humans have harnessed for thousands of years to amplify inspiration.
On a macro level , interactive events give us a dose of this phenomenon.
It is group activities that energise people and magnify the energy of meetings and gatherings.
Getting delegates slightly out of their comfort zone is where the magic happens .
Creating connection between delegates seated next to each other magically makes people feel present.
Physical activities wake us up and relax us at the same time.

Drumming refreshes the parts other events can not reach.


Creating unity through collaboration







One of the biggest challenges we have been told about in 15 years of events is “HOW DO WE GET OUR DELEGATES TO REALLY HEAR US” .

It sounds like an obvious question but the problem is not such a simple one. As soon as delegates arrive at a conference, they slip into a certain “frame of mind” or consciousness.. and unfortunately, its not always one that is ideal for “RECEPTIVITY”.  The tiredness from travelling, over stimulation with so many things going on, too much information as well as the natural state of mind that can occur when watching multiple presentations can all combine together to form a delegate who has a very limited receptivity time.

We take people out of the receptive state, into the creative state…. out of the audience mode and into the performer mode, and slightly out of their comfort zone and into a dynamic and active role as a PARTICIPANT IN A DRUM CAFE INTERACTIVE EVENT.

By giving each audience member a drum and creating a piece of music together, we shift the energy and magnify the energy, and finally transform it to hand over to the following speaker, an audience that is focussed, energised AND relaxed.
This state of mind is pure gold for an event organiser or company leader. People are often receptive for the first time … feeling present , focussed, energised and “on a high” from this natural phenomenon of making music together .

We have 16 years of experience in getting any audience going from 10 to 10,000 people (yes we have that many drums) and the moment is not only energising and exciting but often a historic moment of unity for a company or team .


contact us to find out more how we can offer this event for your company meeting

click here to make an enquiry or get us to send you some more info about Drum Cafe UK



Natalie Spiro from Drum Cafe California :The Pursuit of Happiness (at Work)


Natalie Spiro , Drum Cafe California

There’s a quote out there that states, “If you like what you do, then you’ll never work a day in your life.” We think the root of this statement is based off of finding purpose and happiness within your work. It’s easy to correlate the relationship between doing things that make you happy and the positive impact you’ll have on the company; individuals who understand and embrace their purpose are more likely to have more initiative and creativity when they take on a project.

We believe that people can (and should) find purpose in anything they do! Here are four simple ways to discover your work’s valuable impact:

1. Have a mantra. Write a vision for yourself and know what drives you. In a work environment this can also be called a “Mission Statement.” Think about your organization’s objectives as you move through this process. Ask yourself, “Why am I part of this team?” and “What am I doing to help move things along?”

2. Align your goals. Have personal goals that align with the big picture of your organization; this will directly help you create a sense of purpose and belonging at work. The first step to aligning your goals is to fully understand what your organization’s strategy really is (this may require you to do some research); understand how to connect your work with the short-term and long-term goals of your team.

3. List your strengths. If you’re having difficulty listing strengths on your own, ask your team members to help you. Sometimes an outside perspective on “what you’re good at” can be very helpful. After you’ve discovered your strengths, find ways to incorporate your strengths with the tasks that you do on a daily basis. This will put you in a very productive state and time will seem to slip away when you’re at work.

4. Don’t let intimidation hold you back. Often times, people can be intimidated of a situation because they don’t think they possess the skills or academic credentials to move forward. The honest truth is that every work environment needs people from different walks of life with different skill sets. Your value may come from your experience, or your ability to get things done or your talent to effectively communicate any message to anyone.

When it comes to happiness at work, the biggest obstacle and the most valuable tool you possess happen to be the same thing- your mind. Often times, before a Drum Cafe West corporate event, we will observe skeptical or averse individuals within the group of attendees. They are probably thinking, “How will banging on some drums help us become a better team?” Thirty minutes later, the “skeptic” has made the choice to open their mind to something new and something amazing has happened. They are strong, engaged in activity and working with their teammates to create something beautiful and powerful! This is proof that the simple act of being at your best will help you contribute at your best.

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Drum Cafe With Al Gore at African Climate Change Programme Launch


Al Gore, former US Vice-President and climate change lobbyist, has launched the African branch of the Climate Reality Project, which aspires to assemble individuals and organisations to implement eco-friendly measures and “spread the truth” of climate change to communities on the continent.

Towards a 700 attendees audience at the Climate Reality Project workshop throughout three days, in Johannesburg, on Thursday, Gore said the African division of the organisation would look to collaborate with “climate leaders”, African governments, nongovernment organisations (NGOs) and scientists across the continent to recognize continent-specific solutions to global warming.

“This is a critical time for Africa. Although the continent produces a relatively small proportion of the carbon pollution driving global climate change, the continent bears a disproportionate share of its impacts.

“Drought, desertification and food shortages are becoming more widespread and the continent faces daily reminders of the dire consequences of inaction. The good news is that, if we act together now, we can solve the climate crisis, [with] Africa already playing a key role in that effort,” he commented.

Strategic African Objectives

The Project would work to attain quite a few strategic goals on Africa, including  the creation of a network and communication hub for qualified Climate Reality Project “leaders” and others in the continent to gather and share information and resources.

Food & Trees for Africa founder Jeunesse Park, who would head up the activities of the Climate Reality Project’s newly formed African branch, said its formation came at a crucial time for the continent, which faced increasing climate instability.

Under the umbrella of the South African NGO Food & Trees for Africa, the division would in addition develop wide-ranging communications “assets”, including workshops, events and social channels to “tell the story” of climate change in Africa.

 “While this presents us with many challenges, we also have the unique opportunity to not only help millions of Africans to understand climate change, but also to innovate and implement solutions that we can share with the rest of the world,” she told Engineering News Online.

Drum Cafe with Ambassadors at Bucharest Cafe

ambassodorsDan Popa sometimes gets asked if Drum Cafe sells coffee. Well, when Second Cup, a Canadian coffee shop chain opened a new store in Bucharest on 17 May, that’s just what it did! Several high-profile guests including the Canadian and Lebanese ambassadors to Romania were among the 80 people invited to the opening. Drum Cafe Romania ran a 30-minute drumming session with drums and shakers, and even passers-by on the streets stopped to take part.

Second Cup sells coffee from three continents – Africa, South America and Asia – so the drum set intentionally included African and South American rhythms on Bali drums as a metaphor for the store’s value proposition.

Drum Cafe Germany and The Message of Fire

In October 2012, Drum Cafe Germany performed with firedancers in their largest combined event to date. The show took place before an audience of 2000 people for Meyer Werft. It included a combination of interactive drumming, a human beatbox, the Firedancer show and LunatX fireworks.

Matthias Jackel used fire to portray the message: inside every employee is a little flame that can develop into a huge fire. According to Matthias, “I have never had so much fire around me in my whole life. It was a very intense experience. I loved it.”

Drum Cafe in Stellenbosch winelands with McKinsey consultants

Drum Cafe Cape Town ran a complex and unusual event for Mckinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm. The event was planned over a period of months in consultation with McKinsey staff in the USA, Europe and Joburg.

When the day arrived, the 250 participants were divided into 6 groups and each given one of the following themes;  Zulu, Kwaito, Gumboot & Kwela dance, a singing group and a drumming group. Each group was taken to a different wine estate around Stellenbosch/Franschhoek area where they participated in a 3-hour workshop with Drum Cafe’s teams and rehearsed a performance according to their respective themes.

Later they all arrived at Molenvliet Wine Estate for dinner to present their pieces to the other groups. There was much excitement and anticipation as theperformers donned their accessories and the show was on! Following the performance Drum Cafe finished off the session with  a communal interactive drumming session

.stellenbosch people graphics

Let us make your event a success , click here to get a full proposal for an interactive drumming session for your meeting conference or event.

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Make your conference come alive without leaving the room..

Drum Cafe wins Indira award for innovation and teambuilding

Drum Cafe India proudly accepted the Award for Innovation in Teambuilding and Interactive Learning at the 5th Indira International innovation Summit on 13 January 2012 in India. The innovation summit is the single largest gathering of innovators from different fields of expertise. The theme for this 5th summit was ‘Imagination, Creativity and Ingenuity: Leading a Culture of Innovation”.

Notable presentations made at the event included; Mr. Ranjukumar Mohan Director of JK Ansell Ltd. ; Ms. Sunita Singh,Senior Director and co-founder of NEN; Mr. Maneesh Sharma from SAP India; Mr. Ashish Patel of Euphoria Consulting; Mr. Deepak Rao, motivational speaker and Edutrainer; Mr Ramaprasanna Chellamuthu of Microsoft India R&D Ltd. These presentations was followed by our own Aliya Hasal from Drum Cafe India who entertained the audience with a very well received percussion session.

According to Tony Blanchard, Global Chairman of Indira said of Drum Cafe “Your leadership and contribution to the field of entrepreneurship and innovation is well known. The position that you occupy in the fraternity is strategic and iconic. As a thinker and a doer you are a role model and a believer in change”.

Congratulations to Vinod and Aliya Hasal on this incredible achievement.

Dr. Vinod Hasal, performs for Indian TV show: Sa Re Ga Ma Pa

Recently, Dr Vinod Hasal performed for Drum Cafe on the extremely popular Indian reality musical game show; Sa Re Ga Ma Pa. The performance showed just why the Drum Cafe interactive teambuilding concept has been such a roaring worldwide success.

Dr. Vinod Hasal a renowned Classical Kathak dance teacher and director of Drum Cafe India, brought interactive Djembe drumming through R.K. Dance Theatre, to India.

During the show for Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, he led the audience in a stunning deliverance of interactive African rhythm. Drumming is very much part of Indian culture and they quickly joined the grooving vibe with great enthusiasm.

African drumming has grown very popular in India and with Drum Cafe India performing for shows like these, African drumming in India, is set to continue well into the future.