In the late 1980’s, Matthew and his
brother Patrick Marsolek were inspired by the rhythmic music
created during evening circles at the Feathered Pipe Ranch,
an educational center west of Helena, Montana.
Patrick began making drums for himself,
but the instruments were so popular with the Feathered Pipe’s
guests that they all were purchased immediately. Matthew soon
joined him in this new entrepreneurial effort and the two
set up shop in the Ranch’s garage. During this time,
Matthew began studying West African music with his friend
and teacher, Michael Harrison.
In the fall of 1989, Michael Marsolek left Portland,
where he worked in the restaurant business, and moved to Montana
to join Matthew and Patrick in the musical trio, The Marsolek
Brothers. The three also worked together in the newly named
drum-building company, Drum Brothers Drums. Not long after
this, their father David, who had been building drums in Wisconsin
and working as a family therapist, also moved to Montana to
be part of the venture. Drum Brothers Drums, now based in
Arlee, Montana, has distributed hand-crafted instruments across
the United States and in Canada.
Drum Brothers began performing together
as a musical group on New Year’s Eve 1994 as a part
of Missoula’s inaugural First Night celebration. The
early group consisted of Matthew, Michael and David Marsolek,
and Casey Alexander.
The band soon developed a following in
Western Montana and released their debut CD, Power of Rhythm,
in early 1997. In mid 1997, David and Casey left the band
to follow other interests (David continues to manage the drum-making
shop in Arlee Montana).
Multi-instrumentalist Lawrence Duncan,
joined the band in June, 1997. Nathan Zavalney, who first
connected with Drum Brothers as Matthew’s student, followed
in November. Nathan played with Drum Brothers for 10 fun filled years and in March of 2007 left the group to follow other pursuits. Drum Brothers newest member since July 2007 is Colin Ruggiero, a Missoula based musician and documentary film maker with a sweet touch on the drum.
watched these musicians ripen their sound over the last
three years and am so pleased with the sophistication
evident throughout the CD.
Their sound has come into its
own. It’s like you are walking arm in arm with
your lover over mountain meadows, through Indian villages,
and Montana prairies all in the same hour."
- Timothy Tate, KGLT-FM 91.9 (Central Montana)
Mandir (pronounced Mahn-deer) has been performing
together since 1994. The members are: Matthew Marsolek: classical
and acoustic guitars and voice; Beth Youngblood: violin and
voice; Lawrence Duncan: soprano sax, bassoon and voice, and
Michael Marsolek: world percussion, didgeridoo and voice.
The musicians first worked together as part
of the Stories Project, a collective of artists which combined
music with the spoken word for broadcast on KUFM Montana Public
Radio and stage performances. The Stories Project released
a CD in 1996 entitled Jumbo Love Cycle.
Before forming Mandir, Matthew also worked with
individuals from the band in several other ensembles and projects
including: The Marsolek Brothers, The Matthew Marsolek Trio,
and Place Where Bear Dances, a play by Montana playwright
The band’s name, Mandir, the Sanskrit
word for temple, was selected as a name which could hold the
potential and spirit of their music. Mandir has toured the
Northwest receiving rave reviews. The group also performed
at Fire and Grit, a Millennium Conference sponsored by the
Orion Society, in Shepherdstown, WV.
Mandir’s unique instrumentation puts
its sound into a category all its own. The dance between Lawrence’s
soprano sax or bassoon and Beth’s violin is supported
by the groove and counterpoint of Matthew’s guitar work
and Michael’s ethnic percussive textures. Then the feeling
shifts, accenting the resonant drone of the didgeridoo or
the vocals enveloped in rich harmony.
Matthew Marsolek composes music which brings
out the gifts of the players and explores a fusion of acoustic
world elements. A melody may be based on an East-Indian scale,
harmonized with Western principles and then propelled with
a West-African rhythmic interplay between melodic instruments
and percussion. Mandir takes the listener on a journey through
sound and emotion, from the stillness of "Pastoral Dreams,"
inspired by the Montana landscape, to the passion within "Going
Quickly Beyond Time," based on the bhairav scale of North
India. The album and song title Out Beyond
Ideas, comes from a poem by the 12th-century Sufi poet, Jelalludin
The project was produced
by Windham Hill pianist, composer and Montana native, Philip
Aaberg. The tracks were recorded at The Garage in Reese Creek,
Montana, and mixed and mastered at Spark Studios in Emeryville,
California, where Jai Uttal and numerous San Francisco Bay-area
artists have recorded.
Best described as "contemporary
world music," Out Beyond Ideas features 10 original compositions
by Matthew Marsolek. With melodic and rhythmic influences
from West Africa and India, the music is grounded in the band’s
extensive jazz, folk and classical background. Mandir’s
original instrumentation and its use of voices for instrumental
textures creates a surprising depth of sound from a four-member
Matthew Marsolek has received awards of
excellence from the University of Montana for his musical
work with theater and dance.
He has studied East Indian and West African
music for the past 18 years with a variety of teachers, including
Mukesh Desai from India and Abdoul Doumbia from Mali, West
Africa. Matthew has experience and training in jazz, classical,
and Hindustani vocal technique and is also an accomplished
jazz and classical guitarist.
As a recording artist, he has released projects
with Drum Brothers and Mandir as well as two solo recordings,
the most recent entitled, The
A dedicated and charismatic educator,
Matthew has a passion for rhythm, harmonic relationships,
and the healing and community building potentials of music.
He teaches classes and clinics in voice, rhythm, and hand
drumming throughout the Northwest.
Matthew has been composing music for just about as long as he can remember. In addition to his work with Drum Brothers and Mandir, he's created music for theater, modern dance, spoken word, and film. Click on the juke box below to listen.
Michael Marsolek is a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. In Drum Brothers and as a guest in other ensembles he is featured on numerous drums and percussion instruments. He has a passion for the didgeridoo and Native American flute and is a long time singer, currently in his seventh season with Dolce Canto. Michael has been collaborating with Lawrence Duncan on the Musical Dreamtime Journey events for 15 years and he's appeared with the world music ensembles, Mandir and Tapas. He produced and performed on The Stories Project and A Musical Dreamtime Journey CD's and has performed on over 15 recordings since 1996.
Michael was the live recording coordinator and engineer for Bill Harley's "Yes to Running" 2009 Grammy winning CD. In 2011 he received the individual artist award from the Missoula Cultural Council for “grateful recognition of his outstanding achievement and contributions to the quality of life in Missoula.” Michael has worked at Montana Public Radio since 1989 and has been program director for the network since 2001. In addition to regular radio work, he's also a voice over artist and appears on Montana PBS and on-stage, announcing at numbers of concert events and festivals around Montana. He lives in the Rattlesnake valley of Missoula, Montana, with his two youngest children Sophia and Patrick.
Lawrence lives and works as a musician with his partner Mary Werner a few blocks from downtown Missoula, Montana. He is employed as a Music –Thanatologist by Hospice of Missoula, and as a performer and workshop co-facilitator with Drum Brothers World Music/Rhythm ensemble based in Arlee, Montana. He has recorded tracks on projects with Shake Russell and Dana Cooper, Mandir, Drum Brothers, Brian Kopper, John Floridis, and A Musical Dreamtime Journey.
Bassoon, soprano saxophone, flutes and recorders, West African percussion, harp, voice and EWI are some of the instruments Lawrence makes use of in performance and in his work as a contemplative musician. Essential to his life as a musician is the conviction that musical activity can be a means of connecting with the world of Divine Creative impulses.
As part of his degree in Cultural Anthropology, Colin completed more than 40 credits abroad conducting independent studies of music and dance in Latin America with a focus on the influence of African music traditions. Colin plays percussion as well as guitar and his studies have taken him to nearly every country in Latin America including Cuba to study Rumba and 6 months studying traditional folkloric guitar technique in Mexico.
He has played with numerous performance groups including Los Rumberos, Sambisho, Forty Freedoms, and Les Etudiants de l’Afrique and has played consistently for a variety of African, Brazilian and Cuban dance classes over the past 10 years.
Colin also holds an M.F.A in documentary filmmaking and has produced a variety of award winning films for both broadcast and independent release. For more information about Colin and his production company please visit: www.rhythmproductions.org.
Dave has had a rich life of musical experiences,
from playing in a polka band as a young man, singing in choral
groups, playing guitar and harmonica, to performing as a founding
member of drum brothers.
Over the years,
he has worked variously as a medical technologist, teacher
at a junior college, family therapist (he has a M.S. in family
therapy), massage therapist, Forest Service employee, and
as a cabinet maker.
In 1990, Dave was invited by his sons to join
the Drum Brothers partnership as a drum builder. He also performed
with Drum BrothersT from 1994 through 1997, when he left the
performance ensemble to shift his focus toward drum building.
Dave has helped with the manufacture of over 7100 Drum Brothers
"It’s gratifying to know that
through classes, drum circles, drum building workshops, and
drum groups around the country, thousands of people have discovered
this delightful way of creating and participating in making
music," Dave says.
A dancer since she was three, Tracy has
choreography experience and training in many dance styles,
including West African, Middle Eastern, modern, and jazz.
She has studied African dance with many teachers including;
Youssouf Koumbassa, Mabiba Baenge, and Djeneba Sako.
A self described renaissance girl, Tracy
has a B.A. in Arts from Nebraska Wesleyan and is also a singer
and multi-instrumentalist (You can hear her sing on The
Since 2002, she has been contributing her artistic
talents to Drum Brothers in the manufacture and custom painting
of frame drums.
Beth spent eight years touring as violinist
and vocalist with The Howard Hanger Jazz Fantasy, and is featured
on four of the ensemble’s albums as well as on numerous
recordings with the Baroque ensemble, The Early Light Consort.
Beth has been featured on the recordings of
a number of regional artist’s including John Floridis
and Maren Christensen. In addition to her years of classical
training, she has studied improvisation with renowned jazz
educator David Baker and Eugene Friesen, cellist with the
Paul Winter Consort.
When not performing, Beth teaches private violin
lessons and music for children at Sussex School in Missoula,