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Beloved musician, Greenfield resident survives crash

  • Lyndeborough head-on collision on Forest Road near the Post Office. Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Lyndeborough head-on collision on Forest Road near the Post Office. Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Lyndeborough head-on collision on Forest Road near the Post Office. Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Lyndeborough head-on collision on Forest Road near the Post Office. Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Lyndeborough head-on collision on Forest Road near the Post Office. Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Lyndeborough head-on collision on Forest Road near the Post Office. Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Lyndeborough head-on collision on Forest Road near the Post Office. Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017. (Nicholas Handy / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Nicholas Handy



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, November 21, 2017 9:46AM

Members of the Monadnock Drum Caravan in Peterborough were happy and surprised to see Abou Sylla walk through the door on Sunday.

Four days prior, Sylla – a Greenfield resident and native of Guinea, West Africa – had been involved in a car accident in Lyndeborough that sent him to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, Massachusetts via helicopter with life-threatening injuries, according to state police. Sylla was released from the hospital the next day. 

“I think he felt like he had to go out and support that people who have always supported him,” said Timothy Bowman, a member of the caravan and friend of Sylla for 17 years. “You could tell he was in a lot of pain.”

Sylla is a Djeli, also known as a Griot, part of a family line of oral history-tellers and musicians. As a Djeli, Sylla is a repository of his country’s history and culture. 

“When Abou dies, a library dies,” said Bowman, who first met Sylla in Connecticut in 2000. “He’s a historian and a really amazing guy.”

Sylla first moved to New Hampshire in 2010 and began spreading his knowledge about his culture and playing and teaching about the balafon, a short-keyed wooden xylophone. He founded the Monadnock Drum Caravan in 2015, a group that offers classes, workshops, and performances. 

Caravan member Dave Clermont said Monday that he didn’t know that Sylla had been injured in a car accident until he showed up on Sunday. 

“We played to greet him. I’m just glad to see things weren’t worse,” said Clermont. 

Clermont said he first met Sylla about two years ago when he was trying to get his drum repaired. Clermont didn’t initially think he would regularly attend Monadnock Drum Caravan gatherings but admitted to being drawn in by Sylla. 

“He’s such a friendly spirit,” said Clermont, who added that Sylla teaches with a richness of culture. “He is able to tell you where all the rhythms come from.” 

Also in the car with Sylla was Joanne Vandeusen, another member of the caravan. Vandeusen is still in the hospital with a broken wrist and ribs, according to Bowman. 

Vandeusen’s vehicle was struck head-on last Wednesday afternoon while traveling on Route 31 near the Lyndeborough Post Office by a vehicle driven by Rebecca Rodenhiser of Peterborough. After the accident, police charged Rodenhiser with aggravated DWI. 

Both Sylla and Vandeusen referred all questions to their attorney, Jane-Holly Weintraub. Weintraub refused comment for the story. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.