Who are Melbourne Djembe?

Run by Simon Lewis and Mitzi McRae, Melbourne Djembe is a creative company specialising in West African drumming and dance. We provide instruments, tuition, performances and corporate drumming experiences.

A full range of Djembes, Dunduns and other West African instruments are available ready to go or custom made.  We re-skin all types of drums, repair instruments and provide expert advice on all matters of instrument care. Check out our shop to buy online

Home based warehouse / 3 Albert Street, Coburg North

Call Simon on 0425 753 553 to book a time

Simon Lewis and musicians
Simon Lewis

Simon Lewis

Director, Percussionist and drum maker

With more than 15 years of teaching experience Simon is highly regarded as a teacher of world percussion. He has lived and studied traditional djembe, dundun, balafon and kora in Guinea West Africa with Master drummers Lamine Soumah, Aliou Sylla and the world famous Les Percussions  De Guinea. He is well known for his insightful and innovative teaching style which is both fun and challenging.With a background in classical and jazz his versatility and broad knowledge of music gives  students a unique entry into the world of African drumming.

Simon has performed in Japan, Europe and has performed at Womadelaide, Woodforde and many other major festivals around Australia. Founder and leader of The World Rhythm Ensemble and Zazu Simon is currently performing with many of Melbourne’s most dynamic percussion based ensembles including Wassawumba, Asiko, and The Marabou Project.

Mitzi McRae

Mitzi McRae

Director, Dance Instructor

Mitzi has studied West African dance for over 15 years and has travelled to Africa (Ghana, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Senegal and The Gambia) and also to the United States to further her knowledge by learning from the masters. She is a natural teacher and over the 10 years she has taught African dance she has developed a unique style which provides a relaxed and open environment which is cherished by her students.

Mitzi has been hailed as one of Australia’s best non-African female dancers and captures the energy, vitality, joy and strength of the African dance style. Many of her students have been attending classes for as long as she has been teaching!

‘I love being in a class where people are so caught up in the dance that they don’t realise they’re grinning.’

‘Since doing the dance classes, I feel much more comfortable with my body. I don’t think twice about wearing bathers or tight fitting clothes anymore’

‘..the steps are a sheer joy and Mitzi’s class always gives me a great experience of flow and spring which re-energises me for the rest of the week’

Ben Winstanley

Ben Winstanley

Drummer

Ben has been a drummer since he was 14 and is studying Music Performance. Since being exposed to the joys of West African drumming Ben plays with Melbourne Djembe at every opportunity. He plays for dance classes, festivals, flash mobs, workshops – you name it! Can’t stop this young fella.

Nick Adams

Nick Adams

Dundun drummer

With a love for music that started with playing drum kit in Blues and Rock music, Nick started hitting the tubs at age 12 and hasn’t stopped yet. Nick has studied music in Darwin, Lismore and Melbs. He has been performing and teaching a wide range of music styles on drum kit and percussion all over Australia for 20 years. Nick regularly plays dunduns for dance classes and in the performance group Wassawumba.

Lamine Sonko

Lamine Sonko

Performer/workshop facilitator

Born in Senegal to a family of artists, Lamine began to play music when he was 7 years old. “We are the Griots and have the obligation to pass dances, songs, music and stories to generations.” Lamine is a talented drummer, dancer and singer.

Athena Donohue

Athena Donohue

Dancer

Athena’s thirst for West African dance took her to Africa in 2005 and 2006 where she studied traditional djembe dance with legendary Mariama Camara from Les Ballet Africans, Guinea’s national dance company. Athena studied traditional Sabar dance in Senegal during 2015.

Bassidi Koné

Bassidi Koné

Drummer

Bassidi is a well renowned, versatile djembe and balafon player of exceptional talent. At the age of 20, he formed his award-winning, 10-piece ensemble, ‘Bwazan’, who perform internationally. Bassidi is a supportive, warm and patient teacher with a positive energy and an infectious smile.

Ousmane Sonko

Ousmane Sonko

Drummer

Ousmane comes from a mandinko family of musicians from Senegal. He is a drummer, singer, guitarist and composer. He has been playing all west African drums since his youth.

Matt Rodd

Matt Rodd

Performer/teacher

Matt is a performer and teacher of music with over 20 years experience. He studied guitar at Victorian College of the Arts and has a diploma of teaching from the University of Melbourne. Matt’s great passion for African and Latin music is apparent as a percussionist and guitarist as well as his great love of writing, recording and performing all world ethnic music styles. Matt regularly plays in a kora/guitar ensemble with Simon Lewis.

Loz Dainton

Loz Dainton

Drummer/Drum maker

Loz has played drum kit for over 15 years and over the last 7 years has been introduced to the exciting music of West Africa. She also practical experience in the fields of motor mechanics, bike repair, cabinet making/carpentry, welding and teaching. Loz has combined her passions and is now a skillful drum maker.