Meet One Tribe

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drummer melissa playing dununs

Photographer Andy Mills

Melissa Griffin

Melissa has expressed herself with music since the 4th grade, when she studied piano with a teacher who had a turtle named “Yertle.” She went on to play trumpet and baritone in the school band but always had an interest in playing drums.

In 2007, the time was right and Melissa started banging on buckets and playing with shakers around the campfire of Raleigh’s Sacred Fire Community. It wasn’t long before she discovered the Raleigh Drum Circle and then the rhythms of West Africa. She’s been blessed to study with Greg Whitt, Ronnie Pulley, Bountourabi Leftwich, Khalid Saleem, Nansady Keita, and Bolokada Conde, to name a few, plus the talented instructors at the annual West African Drum and Dance Camp in the NC mountains. In May 2011 she attended classes with Mamady Keita & Famoudou Konate during the Grandmasters Tour in Atlanta, and in February 2012 the Drum Circle Facilitator’s Guild (DCFG) conference.

Melissa and her husband Tony lead the Raleigh Drum Circle, which has become a year-round weekly event. Melissa is a marketing consultant for small businesses and created our website.

Tony Griffin

Tony has always “banged on things” (coffee cans, ottomans, dashboards, school desks, plastic buckets, etc.), but it wasn’t until 2007 that he actually bought his first drum. Never having been to a drum circle and wanting a drum of his own, he was for some reason drawn to a particular craigslist ad. It turned out that ad was posted by the founder of the Raleigh Drum Circle (RDC), Greg Whitt. A relationship was formed that changed Tony’s interests and would shape his drumming future.

Tony likes to work with his hands. By mid-2007, Tony had already taught himself how to rehead drums and took on a few such projects for the RDC as well as his own drums. In 2008, he became a board member for RDC and increased his involvement with its activities. In 2009, Tony launched a side-line business called that offers drum reheading and other drum related accessories to the Raleigh area drumming community. To date he has made/sold over 2000 drumsticks for use with African dununs, including international sales in 6 foreign countries.

In 2008, Tony helped start the Raleigh Hoop Jam, which is now the central event for the Raleigh Drum Circle. Tony has taken drum circle facilitation classes with Jim Donovan, Jana Browder and also attended DCFG Conference with Arthur Hull. In 2009, while taking over leadership of RDC, his personal focus moved to study of West African rhythms, beginning with the West African Drum and Dance Camp. It was at that drum camp that Tony would meet his mentors, Tom Harris and Robin Leftwich, accomplished drum builders and drumming instructors. His on-going study of West African rhythms is with an impressive and growing list of djembefola, including: Mamady Keita, Famoudou Konaté, Aly Camara, Fodé Lavia Camara, Bolakada Condé and Khalid Saleem to name a few.

Lorrie Houze

Lorrie has a lifelong love of music. In 2011, she attended the Raleigh Hoop Jam at Pullen Park and fell in love with the drumming.

She has since studied Drum Circle Facilitation Leadership training with Jim Donovan, receiving certificates in Sound Empowerment and Level 1 Drum Circle Facilitation Leadership. She has studied the djembe with Master teachers from West Africa including Aly Camara, Fode Camara, Mohamad DeCosta, and Bolokada Conde at West African Drum and Dance Camp. Local teachers include Ronnie Pulley, Mike Long and Robin Leftwich.

Lorrie works as a Physical Therapist Assistant specializing in Senior Health and Wellness. Since 2016, Lorrie has been enjoying facilitating events in Senior Living Environments in the Raleigh NC area through her business, Drumming For Your Life.

drummer brian dressed in a colorful outfit, ready to perform

Once you’re exposed to polyrhythms—it’s attractive, deeply engaging—it rocks you to your core.

Brian Lane

Brian started drumming in the late ’90s and bought his first djembe from Sandy Blocker in Greensboro. When he moved to Durham in 2001, he found the group River Rhythms and RJ Perez-Edwards. The reason he started playing was to blow off steam at the end of the workweek, and River Rhythms met on Fridays.

After a few years, Brian joined Rhythmicity. He played with One Tribe as “a friend” for many years, and officially joined the band in 2020.

His passion for music is unstoppable and percussion brings Brian so much joy and happiness. Much gratitude to his teachers including RJ Perez-Edwards, Richard “Rico” Vinesett, Beverly Botsford, Aly Camara, Mamady Keita, and a wide variety of mostly Guinean teachers.

Mike Long playing a balafon from West Africa

Photographer @Mike Gorman Photos

Mike Long

Mike played a variety of percussion growing up in middle and high school including snare, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, some mallets and marching band snare, bass, and Tritoms. Then after many years of “air drumming”, he heard the wonderful sounds of West African music, performed by the band Rhythmicity and jumped on a Djembe. Soon after, he joined Rhythmicity and has been hooked on the music ever since.

Mike considers himself a student of the Djembe and has had the privilege of learning from West African master teachers including Bolokada Conde, Fode Camara, Aly Camara, Mohamed DaCosta and Amo Damas, as well as Forrest Matthews, Beverly Botsford, Ronnie Pulley and Robin “Bountourabi” Leftwich. He is a Certified Associate Instructor having graduated from the Tam Tam Mandingue School under the tutelage of Bill Scheidt of TTM Winston-Salem in 2015.

He thoroughly enjoys teaching and helping folks with their specific goals along their rhythmic journey. Mike founded “Homestead Drumming” in 2017 and is dedicated to educating students on West African rhythms by providing individual and group lessons and workshops, and encouraging community involvement.

Linda Orovitz with drum sticks

Linda Orovitz

Linda started drumming in 2017. Her interest was sparked when she studied with Atiba Rorie in his “Intro to World Drumming” class at Living Arts Collective, which was sponsored by the Durham Arts Council.

She soon drove to an All Levels class with Aly Camara and hasn’t looked back. Linda has studied with Mike Long, Teli Shabu, Ronnie Pulley, Bolokada Conde, Robin “Bountou” Leftwich, Abou Sylla, and more.

Linda played classical piano for many years and performed and played for her high school chorus. She says drumming is a stress reliever and was “easy” because of her musical background. Continued learning and the social aspects of the drumming community keep her engaged.

Ken playing handpan

Ken Wierzbicki

After moving from Buffalo NY in 2004, Ken has made a home in the Raleigh area. While taking some time away from playing the drums, Ken found the Raleigh Drum Circle and got the rhythym bug again at RDC events. After playing and making some connections from within the RDC, the decision to start playing and really diving into the traditional rhythms of West Africa began.

While on the adventure of looking into the roots of where the drum began, the appreciation for all styles of music was sought and incorporated in his playing as well as taking the styles of all forms of music and inter weaving them into what is heard today. From traditional West African to Congolese to remnants of Hip Hop and Fusion Jazz, every style is welcome and incorporated.

Working with everyone in the community is the highlight of this journey and makes every event special and enjoyable. Being able to share in the love of drumming and sharing the rhythms of yesterday and today has propelled Ken and One Tribe to continue to drive themselves.

Join us for a rhythm experience! See our Events page…