Amadou & Mariam
Photo courtesy of The Cedar
Eight major bands from the African continent will grace The Cedar's stage from June until August, starting tonight.
Here's the line-up:
SIERRA LEONE'S REFUGEE ALL STARS - June 5th, 7:30pm
VIVIANE N'DOUR and the JOLOF BAND - June 20th, 7:30pm
ORCHESTRE POLY-RHYTHMO - July 10th, 7:30pm
THE JOHNNY CLEGG BAND - July 12th, 7:30pm
WAKE UP MADAGASCAR - July 13th, 7:30pm
SPOEK MATHAMBO - July 19th, 8:00pm
SMOD - July 31st, 7:30pm
AMADOU & MARIAM - Aug 7th, 7:30pm
The Cedar's Executive Director Robert Simonds says one of the driving forces behind the concert series is the unusual availability of a large number of touring bands from Africa this summer.
There are a few forces behind this, but undoubtably the main one is that more North American summer rock festivals have increased their interest levels for these kinds of bands. These festivals are not just interested in the younger bands that are more influenced by rock and hip-hop such as Spoek Mathambo and SMOD, but also some of the more "classic" artists like Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo and Amadou & Mariam. So that's the starting point: there are simply many more African bands touring the U.S. this summer than usual.
However, that would normally not be enough, since we generally adopt a much more conservative booking policy during the summer months here. We see our "season" as mirroring the academic calendar, so summer bookings are usually "special events." However, last year we upgraded our 1948 air conditioning system, which means we can finally offer a more reliably comfortable space for summer shows. So the first types of shows that we're more willing to open up for are the ones which most directly speak to our mission "to promote inter-cultural appreciation and understanding through the presentation of global music and dance." And now we have a bit of a reputation to live up to, having been voted "Best World Music Venue" in the world by about.com...
So that would be all of the rational and official reasons for booking eight African shows during the summer months. But of course, there's also the OMG factor. I don't know if/when we'll have the opportunity to book a lot of these bands again. We've been chasing Amadou & Mariam for five years, for example, in partnership with Philip [Bither] at the Walker and Sue McLean. The Wake Up Madagascar awareness concert is just too cool (and important) to pass up. And thanks to a special relationship with her U.S. agent, we're one of the few U.S. venues that was even offered a show by "the Queen of Mbalax," the trad/pop hybrid music from Senegal, Viviane N'Dour. You can't say no to a Queen!
Posted at 2:16 PM on June 5, 2012
by David Cazares
Filed under: Music
Photo by Drew Carlson
To her left, cellist Corey Grossman alternated between pensive strumming and a thumping beat and guitarist Ben Abrahamson added lines from Spanish flamenco in a thoughtful session that spoke to multiple currents of musical exploration taking place in the Twin Cities.
"I like for everything to come from an organic place," Gold said in an email interview. "Whether it's writing a melody, meeting new people or falling in love. It has to feel right."
Such collaboration comes naturally to Gold, an energetic yet graceful singer who strives to move people with emotion and words.
She'll have a chance to do so in a big way each Tuesday this month, during a residency at the 331 Club in Minneapolis, where her band will follow a series of vibrant acts, among them Brimmer and High Society; loop pedal performer Molly Dean; Hannah von der Hoff of the band SEXCAT; and Bolo, a project combining African rhythms and electronic sounds with a dash of looping.
Joining Gold on stage will be a trio of agile musicians.
Abrahamson, who plays the classical guitar, has a background in jazz and flamenco, having studied in Spain. He also also incorporates neosoul into his playing while also experimenting with effects pedals and a looping station.
Andrew Foreman, who plays upright and electric bass in the group, has recorded with local hip hop act, Tribe and Big Cats, and also plays with the jazz ensemble The Neighborhood Trio and folk songstress Sarah Morris.
Drummer Zach Schmidt is deeply rooted in jazz and plays with guitarist Cory Wong.
Guiding their musical conversation will be Gold, who thrives in an improvisational setting. See my Q&A with her here.
The Great River Shakespeare Festival of Winona always has a good time touting the charms of the old bard. This year is no exception, with the company creating its own modern take on Shakespeare's leading ladies. Enjoy!