Friday, July 07, 2006

You've Got Me Love Dancing

Fun times last night at Harbourfront seeing Salif Keita, but the real discovery was the opening band, Afrafranto. It was hard to pick up the name, actually, because of the string of non-sequiturs in the stage banter. Nevertheless, it's the same group that appeared at the Now Lounge as part of Music Africa's Palm Wine showcase this past February.

They laid down a sweet and economical groove with a lot more funk and jazz influences than palm wine originally featured way back in the 50s; to me it sounded more like palm wine's successor - highlife. The jazzy content came from the laid back fluidity of Juno Award winning guitar stylings of Pa Joe of African Guitar Summit, who at one point laid down a solo which sounded like George Benson on 'ludes. The electric bass was an inherently funky addition to palm wine in its latter days, as singer Theo Yaw Boakye explained, and gave the music more urgency than usual. Together with someone pounding out a four to the floor beat with their foot - which may have been unintentionally over-miked - the sum total was like hearing an hour's worth of the groove behind Loose Joints' "Is It All Over My Face" with West African chord changes.

Check out the African Guitar Summit and much much more at the ultimate Toronto summertime event: Afrofest, which takes place at Queen's Park this weekend. CIUT will be broadcasting the whole thing (I'll be representing from 1-4PM on Sunday).

While you're there, get yourself some chicken stew from New Bilan, the best Somali-Bangladeshi (sp?) restaurant in town...


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