Master Musicians of Joujouka Festival

Artist Sunny Suits on why the master musicians of Joujouka are the world’s oldest rock 'n' roll band

BOUJELOUD DIPTYQUE, JOUJOUKA 2013
Boujeloud diptyque, Joujouka 2013 Photography by Sunny Suits

Joujouka may sound like it’s at the end of the earth but it’s not, it’s a halal village in the Al Serif mountains in the southern Rif of northern Morocco. It is however thankfully about as far away from a # as you can get.

From grandfather to father to son to grandson the Sufi musicology and folklore of the Master Musicians of Joujouka have been bequeathed from one generation to the next dating back to 860’s AD Persia. The legends and myths finally reached western eyes and ears by the 1950’s when the Beats in gritty Tangier fell under it’s spell. From Joujouki painter Mohamed Hamri to Brion Gysin to Burroughs to Brian Jones to us.

Since 2008, during a 3 day period around summer’s solstice the privileged few, never more than 50 each year, gather to eat, sleep, breath, listen to and above all live Joujouka.

Frank Rynne, the festival organiser and manager of the MMO Joujouka has accomplished something not far from a feat with his vision to ‘’keep the music in it’s purist form’’ and to listen to the Masters day and night in their birthplace is about as pure as it gets.

Each evening around midnight the Masters take place and play sans-arrêt often for up to a remarkable 2 hours or longer. The pipers hypnotise with their kalediscopic music patterns and rhaita riding out over the beautifully fucked up rythyms of the drummers goat skinned tebels. It’s transcedental, psychedelic and absolutely gorgeous.

Three young boys dressed as the femme fatale Aisha Kandisha take stage to tempt the musicians and festival goers alike and from out of nowhere it seems, Boujeloud, an incarnation of the great god Pan appears from a fire that shoots up to the stars in front of the tent where everything takes place. It doesn’t get more sublime than this.

The music of Joujouka is reputed for it’s power to ‘heal crazy minds’ and maybe for that reason alone seems even more relevant today then ever and if Burroughs and company were right about the Master Musicians of Joujouka being the world’s oldest rock n roll band, then the women of the village, who don’t bat an eyelash when their husbands come home as the sun rises after playing music all day and night, are the original rock wives and the families of Joujouka the real rock royality. 

The photographs are apart of an ongoing Moroccan portfolio by artist Sunny Suits

Master Musicians of Joujouka Festival 2014 June 20th-22nd 

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