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“The 4,000-year-old Rock’N’Roll band”

– Timothy Leary

“We need more diabolic music everywhere”

– William S. Burroughs

“I want to hear that music every day of my life”

– Brion Gysin

“The oldest, most exclusive dance party in the world”

– Rolling Stone

The sound is paradoxically both crazy and carefully calibrated,in tune with the unease within us: like a homeopathic remedy designed to heal “like with like” and make us whole.

Mark Kidel  Financial Times

The Master Musicians of Joujouka strongly contest the notion that drone-based music is calming: theirs is an energetic, frenetic sound.

Harry Swords The Guardian

  

 

The Master Musicians of Joujouka are Sufi trance musicians from a tiny village in the Southern Rif Mountains. They play a form of trance music which is used for healing. Each year in the village, a boy is sewn into goat skins to dance as Boujeloud, who appears to Westerners as Pan. The flute-playing goat god is the protector of shepherd boys who brings fertility in springtime. The musicians play ancient music to drive Boujeloud back to his cave. With the beast appeased by their music, they can expect a good harvest. Women touched by his flailing palm fronds will bear healthy children.

About

The remarkable music played by the Master Musicians of Joujouka, a remote village in the Ahl Srif tribal area south of the Rif in Northern Morocco, is thousands of years old. In the 15th century, when the Sufi saint Sidi Ahmed Schiech arrived in the village, he wrote music for the Masters’ ancestors which could heal disturbed minds. Today’s Masters are blessed with the Baraka or spirit of their saint and use touch and prayer to heal.

Bou Jeloud

The Masters’ performances feature a dancer dressed as Bou Jeloud, a Pan-like figure half goat half man. Although the character of Bou Jeloud is found all over Morocco, it takes on different form in Joujouka. In Joujouka, Bou Jeloud gave an Attar ancestor the gift of flute music and bestowed fertility on the village every spring when he danced. The music relating to this is the Masters at their most mind-blowingly powerful.

The Masters, Beats and Hippies

In 1951, the American writer Paul Bowles and the Canadian painter Brion Gysin travelled to a Sufi music festival in Sidi Kacem, a couple of hours from where they were living in Tangier. When he heard the Masters, Gysin said he wanted to listen to their music every day of his life. In Tangier, he met Mohamed Hamri, a would-be painter from Joujouka. When Hamri took Gysin to Joujouka, Gysin discovered to his astonishment that the music he’d fallen in love with was played by Hamri’s uncles. Gysin and Hamri opened a restaurant in Tangier called The 1001 Nights and members of the Masters became the house band. It was here that legendary Beat figure William Burroughs first heard the music.

In the late 1950s Gysin and Burroughs lived in the Beat Hotel at 9 rue Git le Couer, Paris. Here Gysin invented the Cut-Up Method of writing and the Dreamachine with Ian Somerville and worked with Burroughs, Somerville and filmmaker Antony Balch in Cut Up film experiments to a soundtrack of the Masters Musicians made by Gysin. When the Rolling Stones were in Tangier in 1967, Hamri and Gysin met them and Hamri formed a bond with Brian Jones. Brian went to Joujouka, where he, too, fell in love with the Masters’ music, although he said ‘I don’t know if I possess the stamina to endure the incredible, constant strain of the festival’. He returned in 1968 to record the Masters. Before he died in 1969, Brian had prepared the cover, and edited and produced the album of recordings he made of the Masters. Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka was released in 1971, honouring Brian’s memory and exposing a wider audience to the remarkable music of the Masters for the first time.

In January 1973, jazz musician Ornette Coleman recorded with the Masters. A small part of what was recorded was released on the 1975 album Dancing In My Head album. Also in 1975, Hamri’s book Tales of Joujouka was published. Thanks to Rikki Stein, the Masters played at Worthy Farm, the site of Glastonbury, for the first time in 1980 as part of a three-month tour which included a week’s residency at London’s Commonwealth Institute.

To 2008

After many years painting in LA, Hamri returned to Joujouka and found discord in the village. He built a new house there which became a gathering place for many of the old Masters and their apprentices. He took a large group to Italy in 1991 and in 1992 both he and the Masters took part in the Here to Go Show in Dublin, documented in the DVD Destroy all rational Thought.

In Dublin, the Masters met Frank Rynne, their current manager. Frank spent two months with Hamri in Joujouka in 1994 recording the classic CD Joujouka Black Eyes for Sub Rosa. Since then, he’s recorded Sufi: Moroccan Trance and Boujeloud. In 1998 Hamri and Masters’ drummer El Khalil Radi took part in the Festimad Poetica festival in Madrid with Lydia Lunch, Richard Hell, John Giorno, Tav Falco and John Cale. The Masters were also featured on the CD 10% File Under Burroughs, released 1998. In 2012 they appeared on the latest Rough Guide to the Music of Morocco.

The 40th Anniversary of Pipes of Pan

In 2008 the Masters honoured the 40th Anniversary of Brian Jones’s influential recording with a festival at Joujouka. Anita Pallenberg and John Dunbar were among the people who made the pilgrimage to the village. Joujouka by Daragh McCarthy, a film of the 2008 Brian Jones Festival premiered in London in 2012 and will be released in 2013.

Since then the festival has become an annual event, attracting artists, filmmakers, musicians, writers and fans from around the world. As well as generating valuable global publicity for the music, the festival has become an important economic factor in Joujouka life.

2011 saw the Masters on the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury, opening the Festival.

2012 The Masters featured on Jane’s Addiction no 12 Billboard single End to the Lies.

2013 Headline at Academy of France in Rome at Villa Medici.

2016 The Masters closed the live performances for the Beat Generation art show at Centre Pompidou Paris which appeared as their seminal 2021 release on double vinyl LP Live in Paris.

2017 The Masters toured Japan playing Festival de Frue and Tokyo and wowing Terry Riley at Dommune.

2019 They created the live soundscape for Dior’s Cruise Show in Marrakesh in collaboration with The Orb and curated by Michel Gaubert.

2023 UK tour with sold out London shows at The Forge and a triumphant return to Glastonbury’s Pyramid stage with the BBC hailing The Master Musicians of Joujouka as  “the Moroccan band who wowed Glastonbury.”

Festival

Since 2008, the annual festival at Joujouka has taken place in June every summer and offers a unique opportunity to spend three days with the Master Musicians. Unlike any other, ours is a true micro-festival which has received rave coverage from Mojo, The Guardian, Liberation, the BBC, Al Jazeera, France 24 and The Irish Times.

Our concept

The Festival is all about offering a very small group of people the opportunity to live in Joujouka with the Masters as your hosts and experience the music in the village and spectacular landscape in which it belongs. People who speak French, Arabic and English and who have long, strong connections with the village are on hand to answer questions and make you feel as at home as possible. Because of the nature of the Festival, numbers have to be strictly limited to 50 people and this means it’s essential to book early if you want to have this incredible experience.

Flying to Morocco

If you’re only coming to Morocco for the Festival, the easiest thing to do is to fly to Tanger and take the train from Tanger Ville, a short taxi ride from the centre of Tanger. A taxi from Tanger to Joujouka costs 1000-1500 MAD. Should you be travelling in Morocco, Fez and Casablanca are four hours from El Ksar El Kebir, the nearest town to Joujouka, by train. Marrakesh is eight hours. Don’t fly to Agadir – there are no direct train connections.

Getting to Joujouka

We collect you at El Ksar El Kebir train station. The station is around 30 mins from Joujouka. The Moroccan train service is good and very cheap. You can find train times at www.oncf.ma, the website of the national rail network. 

How long is the festival?

Due to high demand, we only offer three-day tickets for the full festival but if you really want to experience Joujouka and can only come for a shorter period of time, contact us and we’ll see what we can do.

What the ticket price includes

The Masters play for you and the village every night of the Festival on the stage which was purpose built for them and they spend most of the days playing.

Music is part of the fabric of Joujouka and the essence of your experience.

Your ticket includes transport from the nearest railway station EL Ksar el Kebir, three nights’ accommodation in the Masters’ homes. Breakfast is served in the house you will stay in plus lunch and dinner at the master’s madrassa.  Alcohol is strictly prohibited.

All accommodation arrangements will be made for you well before you arrive in Joujouka and, don’t worry, you won’t be sharing a room with strangers.

One of the great treats of the Festival is the opportunity to enjoy home cooked Moroccan food, which is delicious. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, please let us know in advance on the forms provided.

Between meals your hosts will often prepare snacks, which are meals in themselves. This is especially important in the evening as dinner is served late before the nightime ritutal performances.

Transport to the village on 23 May from the nearest city Ksar El Kebir is included in the ticket price.

Drop off is by arrangement and should be before noon on 26th May.

Due to various different requirments of  guests over previous years this is now by arrangment and at the expense of ticket holders but we will arrrange and book transport and handle payments if required. Typically that will be 6 euro per person direct to Ksar el Kebir train station in a car with 4-5 people.

Direct to Chefchaouen,  Aisilah or Tangiers can be arranged also. Please ask for a quote closer to the festival date or on arrival. Prices quoted locally will typicaly be about 1/3 less than tourist operaters in Tanger or Fez.

For more on the festival see Rolling Stone Suzanne Gerber’s 2015 report:

Inside the Oldest, Most Exclusive Dance Party in the World

The Master Musicians of Joujouka announce dates for 2025 festival booking now

Next summer’s festival in the village will be held from 23-25 May.

The Master Musicians of Joujouka have announced their annual festival in the village will return over the weekend 23-25 May 2025.

The three-day festival sees the Master Musicians welcome a limited capacity of up to 50 guests to their village in the Ahl Srif mountains of Morocco and opportunity to witness their ancient sufi trance music.

Visitors stay as guests in the homes of the Master Musicians throughout their stay and ticket price includes all food and drink, plus transport to and from the nearest train station.

Guests make their own way to Ksar El Kebir, around 1 hour drive from Joujouka, and will be dropped of by midday on Monday, 26th May following the festival.

Performances are held at the Madrassa of the Master Musicians of Joujouka in their village.

Following a successful appearance at Glastonbury festival last year, the Master Musicians host two festivals in their village this summer to meet demand.

“Playing trance-inducing music that has existed for centuries, the Master Musicians invite us to rural Morocco to experience it up close – complete with gods in goat skins” – Read report in the Guardian here

Read reports from the May 2024 edition of the Master Musicians of Joujouka festival here

More information about the festival here

Tickets booking now at the following link

News


Contact numbers for Master Musicians of Joujouka 7-9 June festival guests

Master Musicians of Joujouka festival 7-9 June 2024. The Master Musicians of Joujouka host the second of two festivals in their village over the summer this weekend 7-9 June. Guests should by now have confirmed their anticipated arrival time at Ksar El Kebir train station for taxi shuttle to the village on Friday, 7th June. …

Watch TV report on the Master Musicians of Joujouka festival

Film report from May edition of the Master Musicians’ festival in their village. The Master Musicians of Joujouka filmed live at their festival in the village recently is reported by French broadcaster TV5 Monde. The film features live performance and interviews with Mohamed El Hatmi, also known as the dancer Boujeloud, and Master Musicians of …

The Master Musicians of Joujouka announce dates for 2025 festival booking now

Next summer’s festival in the village will be held from 23-25 May. The Master Musicians of Joujouka have announced their annual festival in the village will return over the weekend 23-25 May 2025. The three-day festival sees the Master Musicians welcome a limited capacity of up to 50 guests to their village in the Ahl …

Photos

A selection of photos of the Master Musicians of Joujouka performing in their home village and around the world.

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