I really want to explore another big theme that stands out within this interview and the DVD, that of the presence, music, energy, and the cultural symbolism of The Master Musicians of Joujouka. Theirs is a compelling role, you both said that they were acting as the glue, the oil, that lubricated the Show and yet held it together. A unique property for anyone or thing. What was the aura like during their mesmerizing shows?
Frank Rynne: The volume these men achieved playing just acoustic instruments was astounding. The musicians played with furious intent and purpose. They were at once frightening in their intensity and beguiling through their repetitive trance inducing beats. Hamri’s presence and his care for the music and its performance was evident in its wild authenticity. There was nothing remotely “Real World” or “World Music” about these performances. It was easy to understand the phrase “one thousand year old rock’n’roll band” which Timothy Leary and Burroughs, in the early 70s, used to describe The Master Musicians of Joujouka. It was evident attending the Dublin shows. However, I endeavored not to be beguiled by the half baked acid casualty baggage that attached itself to the Joujouka story when written up by people like Robert Plamer in the 7Os. Unfortunately that brand of American hippy rubbish had and has little relevance to the actual music and lifestyles of the village. Bob Palmer actually believed that the hill Joujouka sits on was a spaceship.
A lot of interest surrounds this music, the culture, and the village...
FR: I have spent years working with and living with the musicians. When you know them and their families, spend a lot of time in their individual homes, and see their children grow up over a period of years it gives you a very different and more accurate knowledge about the music and the villager`s lives. It is easy to understand the culture shock that those hippies experienced. For me Joujouka is not too dissimilar to the area of Co. Clare in Ireland where my grandfather farmed. The music too is often quite similar to real Irish folk music. However, as an acid freak hitting the place in 1971, it may have appeared rather strange especially with mounds of kif clouding perceptions of the “real” reality.