Hans Sutton is well known as a skilled and inspiring djembe teacher and Malian drumming specialist. He is also establishing a reputation as one of London’s most creative percussionists. Trained in both western and West African music traditions, he brings a fresh and intelligent approach to his teaching, and a virtuosic musicianship to his playing.
With over 20 years’ experience performing and teaching West African rhythms, Hans is widely considered to be the most skilled, thorough and patient teacher from the UK, renowned for his fiendishly logical brain, superhuman multi-tasking skills and demanding yet exhilarating classes.
Hans regularly teaches at the World Music Workshop Festival (formerly Drum Camp) and at WOMAD, where his workshops are always packed. His own twice-yearly HansCamp – an intensive djembe and dundun residential course – is a regular sell-out success. In addition to his workshop teaching, Hans lectures part-time in ethnomusicology at Kingston University. Hans’s knowledge of djembe repertoire has been gleaned through numerous trips to West Africa – particularly to Mali, whose drumming traditions he considers to be the richest in the region. His deep intellectual engagement with West African djembe music allows him to spot patterns and connections within the repertoire, and to identify and untangle the thornier knots of djembe pedagogy.
Hans’s performing career has included collaborations with Mercury award nominee Nick Mulvey, folk maestro Theo Bard, and The Cocos Lovers. He currently leads his own performance project: Bamako Overground, a Mali blues-inspired trio with Theo Bard on bass and the acclaimed guitarist Tobias Sturmer. Hans is adept not only on djembe, dundun, and his trademark calabash drumkit, but is also a highly skilled cajon and conga player and talented vocalist. He has performed in venues as diverse as the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Glastonbury Festival, and the dusty compounds of Bamako’s spirit possession cults. Hans has a degree in Maths from Cambridge University, and a masters in Ethnomusicology from SOAS. He lives in London with his wife, an environmental and health equality campaigner, and their toddler son, who currently likes eating egg shakers.