National Geographic feature on the Master Musicians of Joujouka and Music in Morocco

Master Musicians of Joujouka Live At The Beat Hotel – photo Justin Gardner (courtesy @beat_hotel)

The Master Musicians of Joujouka are featured in the August/September 2019 edition of National Geographic Traveller.

The article Music in Morocco: The ultimate sonic journey is a major feature on trance music by Mickey Rapkin.

The article explores different kinds of traditional music from across Morocco and how “the past very much informs the present, with a new generation of artists emerging in thrilling ways”.

The Master Musicians of Joujouka and Manager Frank Rynne were interviewed for the article at the Beat Hotel Festival in Marrakesh earlier this year.

Read an from the article extract here:

“This story begins like all good ones do, with a 66-year-old man standing on stage, dressed as a goat.

It is late March, and I’ve come to Morocco, in part, to see a rare public performance by the Master Musicians of Joujouka, a group of traditional Sufi trance artists from a remote corner south of the Rif Mountains who have nevertheless captivated the world. Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones recorded the Masters in their village in the late ’60s. William S. Burroughs and Timothy Leary famously dubbed them “the 4,000-year-old rock band.” More recently, Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins spent a week just observing them.

The Masters’ brand of ancient trance isn’t simply entertaining. It’s also said to have healing powers. The half man, half goat who is part of their act is called Bou Jeloud, and according to folklore, if he hits you with a stick during a performance, you will get pregnant. More on that soon.

I return to Marrakech just in time to see the Master Musicians of Joujouka perform at the Beat Hotel festival, held on the grounds of a chic 27-acre boutique hotel outside of town. In addition to the Masters, the lineup includes upstart DJs from Casablanca, pop-up restaurants, and a spa tent offering yoga. The transition is jarring. British party kids with sunburned skin and vape pens sit around a pool. The Wi-Fi password is MOONLIGHT. This isn’t what Burroughs or the Beat poets imagined. But it is a bold mash-up of genres and experiences come to life.

The Masters—who range in age from late 40s to 86—take the stage after ten o’clock, under a white tent with a top-tier sound system and a serious light rig. The 13 men are dressed in jellabas. They carry drums and reed instruments and sit in a single row of chairs facing the crowd. The music is visceral, the high-pitch whir of the lira flutes like a snake worming its way through my earholes and taking hold of my brain stem. Historically, this brand of Sufi trance had been used to entertain the court of the sultan. It was also performed to inspire soldiers prior to battle. Which makes sense. It is that loud from the first drumbeat.

The Masters play nonstop for two hours, with more energy than men half their age. An hour into the show, Bou Jeloud—the half man, half goat—finally appears. The man under all that goatskin is called Mohamed El Hatmi. He’s 66 years old, and he’s been dressing up as this furry icon for more than 35 years. He measures a hair under five feet tall. But he is superhuman, climbing down into the crowd and running back and forth among the people, shaking his sticks in the air.”

Read the full article at National Geographic Traveller here

Master Musicians of Joujouka Festival June 2019 Photos

Boujeloud at the Master Musicians of Joujouka festival June 2019 – photo by Syd Howells

The Master Musicians of Joujouka would like to thank everyone who visited the village to attend the festival last weekend and made the 12th annual event a special occasion.

We hope to see you again, insha’allah.

Photography from the Master Musicians of Joujouka festival 21st to 23rd June by Syd Howells (all rights reserved).

Ahmed El Attar, group leader of the Master Musicians of Joujouka
Aisha Kandisha and Boujeloud
Tebel players Ahmed Talha, Ehmed El Attar, El Khalil Radi, El Ayachi Guennouni, Mefedel Chlouchi, Mohamed Majdobi
Abdellah Ziyat and Abdesalem El Rrtoubi
El Touhami Talha
Ahmed Talha
Mohamed Mokchan
Mohamed El Hatmi as Boujeloud
Ali Ezouglali and El Touhami Talha lead an afternoon lira session
Ayachi Lahbib, veteran of the Master Musicians of Joujouka tour of Europe 1980 organised by Rikki Stein
Ali Ezouglali
Rhaita players Abdesalem Bata, Mohamed El Attar, Abdellah Ziyat, Abdesalem El Rrtoubi, Mustapha Selmouni, Ali Ezouglali
El Touhami Talha
Abdesalem Bata
Abdellah Ziyat
Master Musicians of Joujouka
Frank Rynne, Manager of the Master Musicians of Joujouka
Shiek Ahmed Talha
Joujouka village at sunset

The Master Musicians Of Joujouka host a second festival in the village this summer in memory of Brian Jones on the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones lead guitarist and founder’s death on 3rd July 1969.

A Requiem For Brian Jones will be held in Joujouka, Morocco from Friday, 5th July to Sunday, 7th July 2019.

For more information visit here

The Master Musicians of Joujouka Remember Brian Jones 50 Years Gone Today

‘The 4000 Year Old Rock and Roll Band’
Melody Maker ad for Brian Jones Presents The Pipes of Pan at Joujouka LP

The Master Musicians of Joujouka this weekend host a festival in Joujouka in memory of The Rolling Stones founder and lead guitarist Brian Jones on the 50th anniversary of his death on 3rd July 1969.

Brian Jones (28 February 1942 – 3 July 1969) visited Joujouka in 1968 and recorded the LP Brian Jones Presents The Pipes Of Pan At Joujouka (released on Rolling Stones Records, 1971).

In his liner notes for the LP Jones said: “I don’t know if I have the stamina to endure the incredible strain of the festival.

“What exists here is a specially chosen representation of the type of music which is played and chanted during the festival.”

A Requiem For Brian Jones will be held in Joujouka, Morocco from Friday, 5th July to Sunday, 7th July 2019

More information at

Just announced

Booking now open for next year’s Master Musicians of Joujouka Festival

5-7 June 2020

Early Bird tickets available at this year’s prices here