Musician on adventure to Haiti

Local musician David Stocker offers Jamm ’n’ Jazz Music Camps for area kids in July

Local musician David Stocker, a featured performer at events such as Charlotte’s Web shows or peace-oriented performances, has taken off for Haiti on a musical adventure.

Several years ago, he recalls, a group named Boukmann Eksperiense came to the Rockford area—either Karen Howard’s group at Charlotte’s Web or possibly Margaret Heinz’s World Music Stage at On the Waterfront. That’s where Stocker first heard the music of Haiti. “The music was energetic and fast,” he said. “This was trance ceremonial groove that spoke of things and on levels way over the audience’s head. But we all felt it and were moved.

“Some years later with One Drum at West Palm Beach’s Kravis Center, I met a drummer from Haiti named Jan Sebon!. People in Haiti take stage names and spirit names, and I had to like a guy who named himself ‘It’s Good!’ Sebon! is well connected and has performed and toured with the Boukmann Eksperiense. We hit it off, you might say, and I contacted him a year later when I was touring again solo in Florida. We teamed up for a half-dozen dates from Key West to Fort Lauderdale. Jan Sebon! is also well known in Miami’s ‘Little Haiti’ as a dissident poet and playwright as well as a musician and performer. Interestingly, he had polio when a kid and is disabled, yet his physicality in performance is amazing. In a deep, thick, Creole accent (Haiti’s blend of French, Spanish, English and native tongues), he reaches young and old. His words invoke a call to peace among peoples; other songs tell of forbidden histories and lands soaked with the blood of slaves.

“Sebon! participated in last year’s International Day of Peace at the Keeling-Puri Peace Plaza and reached more than 1,000 area school children in collaborative performances during September with sponsorship from the Illinois Arts Council and local benefactors. He also came in summertime as an instructor for the 4th Annual Jamm ‘n’ Jazz Camp teaching Afro-Caribbean roots percussion. This July, he will return for the 5th Annual Camp and join locally-renowned trombonist, Cary Sheley, Milwaukee’s Jesse Sheehan and myself as co-directors of the music camp July 9-21. Day camp programs are open for ages 7-17 as well as workshops for classroom teachers and adults. The camp includes some performance, peer mentoring and a lot of jamming. Music ranges from classic jazz to world beat. All abilities are welcome. We have awarded over a dozen scholarships to music students in past years.”

David Stocker reported that Sebon! is taking him to the village where the Boukmann tribe lives and makes its musical home outside Port-au-Prince when not touring the globe.

Schedule of Jamm 'n' Jazz Music Camps

July 7-12—Music Beginners, age 7-10, 8 a.m.-noon. Explore rhythm & melody listening & jamming. Make simple instruments to play while learning about the nature of vibrations. Share stories about the origins of music, experience a drum circle. Half day, $125 includes rentals.

July 9-12—Intermediate, age 10-14. For musicians in the first two years of instrument study. Provides a relaxed, supportive band experience with hands-on individual mentoring. Fun classic jazz jam tunes & world grooves are explored to encourage improvisation and feeling. Morning ensemble, mid-day clinics and afternoon recreation at Alpine pool. Evening recital at week’s end. Camp 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $200 plus pool & book fees.

July 16-20—Advanced Musicians, age 15-18. Advanced teen musicians will work in ensemble and in small groups. Professional instructors will lead clinics and small group instruction. Interested participants will be invited to join One Drum on tour through July 25 and for regional shows through year. Camp 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $225 plus book & pool fees.

July 9-12—Sessions for K-8 Classroom Teachers. Teachers will learn how to make an age-appropriate music instrument, learn its cultural context and prepare a curriculum for the classroom. Includes a ready set of project materials for class of 25 kids. Morning workshops TBD based on enrollment. You will be guided through the basics of leading a rhythm circle. Choose from dijeridoo, canjo, pan pipe, flute, shaker, frame drum. $150 includes all materials.

To register, contact David Stocker at (815) 519-7599. Info at:

from the July 5-10, 2007, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!