Thursday, March 10, 2011

Community Review: Acoustic Africa

Last night’s Acoustic Africa concert featured some extraordinary musicians playing instruments that we almost never see in the U.S.  One, a mbira, was like a small piano played with just the thumbs; and another, the ndjurkle, looked like a half coconut with a stick coming out of it and a guitar string.  It was all quite unusual and interesting.

Certain aspects of the evening were excellent.  The slow song where Oliver Mtukudzi played and sang with only some percussion was thrilling. Also, a recorder solo was spectacular, and the dancing throughout the night was much fun.  Most of all, when the musicians sang multi-part harmonies I got goose bumps. The show could have used much more of these beautiful harmonies.

Unfortunately I had some trouble enjoying most of it. Almost all of the songs ran a little long, as did the show itself.  And while the featured musicians all seemed friendly and fun, I could only understand about half of what they said so I was somewhat lost.

Worst of all for me was the repeating electric (I thought this was Acoustic?!) bass parts.  About half the songs included repeating background music that was only three or four beats over and over and over and over and over again. It was somewhat hypnotic, and prevented me from enjoying the rest of the musicians.

However, this didn’t seem to bother most of the audience, who seemed to enjoy the concert. Certainly Acoustic Africa was worth going to just to experience a taste of a different culture and to see some excellent musicianship.

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