African Drums & Art Crafts, 618 Dundas West, 416-597-0175 Rating: NNNNN
Every Friday night, African Drums & Art Crafts owner Saikou Saho welcomes a band of novice and expert thumpers into the shop for a weekly drumming class using his stock of djembes, doundouns and tamas. A rotating group of teachers tap out world music rhythms including the West African-inspired calypso and suku beats that fill Toronto every summer during the Caribbean Carnival. Saho imports drum shells in lenge and mahogany wood from Gambia, Senegal, Guyana and Ivory Coast and finishes them off here using climbing rope he manufactures minus its usual stretch. Ready-made drums from Africa are sold as souvenirs, but Saho strings up drums for serious players.
Stringed instruments and finger pianos topped with vintage Pilsner caps along with carved wood animal statues, hot-coloured textiles and a library of incense sticks momentarily distract you from the urge to sit down and start banging away.
African Drums & Art Crafts picks: Saho's own carved lenge djembe is topped with goat skin and priced between $300 and $400; wish them happy drumming with a watercolour desert scene card, $4; a Senufo bed carved from a single Ivory Coast tree trunk is buried under African map puzzles in the centre of the store, $4,000.
Look for : Drum classes every Friday between 7 and 9 pm, $20 a week.
Hours: Monday to Thursday and Saturday 10 am to 8 pm, Friday 10 am to 9 pm, Sunday 11 am to 5 pm.