In January 2016, a band of five adventurous musicians from around the globe assembled to climb Mount Kilimanjaro with the intention of playing a tune at the top -- the (vertically) highest fiddle jam known to mankind. The idea was first born through a chance meeting between Brittany Haas (who’s wanted to climb Kilimanjaro since studying the nearby yellow baboon population in her college years as an evolutionary biologist) and Dan Latner, a seasoned expedition leader for Escape Travels who is also a talented singer, songwriter, and fiddle player. Three other musical friends of Brittany’s gleefully jumped on the bandwagon for this unique adventure: Corinna Smith (fiddler currently touring with the Adam Ezra Group), Adam Spiers (London-based jazz cellist), and Leigh Rudner (cellist/fiddler originally from Michigan, currently volunteering in Tanzania with the Peace Corps).
The band’s goal was not only to break records and have a good time, but to benefit a local school in the Kilimanjaro region -- the Kilimahewa Educational Centre: www.gofundme.com/h69b3uq4
Inspired by their expedition, renowned songwriter and tunesmith Mark Simos hatched a plan to write a brand new tune to be performed atop the peak. His vision was to musically represent the contours of the ascent: beginning in the savannah and climbing up into the densely rainforested foothills, through the sprawling desert slopes and finally peaking at the glaciated summit.
Mark wrote the first section and passed it along to master old-time musician Bruce Molsky who added his part and passed it next to wacky and wonderfully creative fiddler Darol Anger who wrote the "C part" (which he cleverly designed to be both groovy and easy to remember at 19,000 feet).
Just before the hike started, Darol sent an mp3 of the unfinished tune to Brittany. It was a tense scene as the hiking band battled with Tanzanian internet to download the song, but they finally succeeded. The culminating section of the tune was composed by night, halfway up the mountain at Barranco camp.
The team made it to Uhuru Peak summit at 8:15am on February 4th after 8 hours of continuous walking, and despite the low oxygen and below freezing temperatures, performed the tune, "Kilimanjaro".
Watch the video here: youtu.be/PVzE923g6vk
They performed it again two days after climb, having slept and regained their regular (if somewhat quirky) mental states at low altitude: youtu.be/MVJU-uuOtJw
Fellow climber and documentarian Charvak Karpe kindly filmed these videos and more: www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDEyExr6uPo-dll-roG3NlZaGitr8Ptfe
After the climb, the quintet played a benefit concert for the school, inviting all the members of the Moshi town community to hear their music, sing songs together featuring the Kilimahewa students, and collectively support the continuance of the school.
You can see many more photos from the trip here: www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.990860157616429.1073741938.118742938161493
This was an amazing experience for all involved. We hope you enjoy the music!
released March 1, 2016
All proceeds from track sales go to the Kilimahewa Educational Centre in Moshi, Tanzania (www.kiwoce.org
To donate to the school directly, please visit www.gofundme.com/h69b3uq4
Tune composed by Mark Simos, Bruce Molsky, Darol Anger, Brittany Haas, and Dan Latner