Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Community Review: An African Night at the Fox Cities P.A.C.

Last night was a warm night at the Fox Cities P.A.C. I asked my friend to accompany me to Acoustic Africa. I hadn’t heard from this group before, but, being a fan of African music I was enthused and decided to go with her.
The evening started well. We were warmly greeted at the door by the very efficient volunteers, given a program, and ushered to our seats. The venue was packed with a very diverse public of all ages and origins, and there was an atmosphere of excitement. 
After an introduction by a Fox Cities P.A.C. staff member, the group appeared on stage. There were many diverse instruments, but the main feature were guitars. The musicians started the performance with a lovely ballad-like song and followed that with music inspired by the traditional music of Mali in Western Africa, homeland of Habib Koité, the talented guitarist and composer, and Zimbabwe, homeland of “Tuku” Mtukudzi, whose raspy voice contributes greatly to the characteristic sound of this group. Also featured was Malian guitarist, singer and composer Afel Bocoum, who did a wonderful dance in the Tuareg style, to a song sung in Tamashek by “Tuku” and Habib. 
The other featured musicians of this band’s second edition (as Koité informed us) were Souleymane Ann, percussion and vocals; Abdoul Wahab Berthe, N’goni (plucked lute), bass and vocals; Yoro Cisse, Ndjurkle (monochord) and Njarka (small fiddle made from a gourd, with one gut string); Mamadou Kelly, guitar and vocals; and Phillip Tzikirai, Mbira (thumb piano), percussion and vocals. 
The concert, that was supposed to last 90 minutes without an intermission, and ended after 30 minutes of encore, seemed short. The music was entrancing and exciting. Every new song was received with applause and the audience clapped enthusiastically during the performance. 
It was indeed a wonderful night and the cold of the winter seemed to melt away for a while.

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