Friday night was Girls Night. Neko Case and her witty sidekick, backup singer Kelly Hogan, had a subversive comedy act going between songs. Speaking of songs, what a bad*** with soul, this chick. Compelling, moving, whiplash. Oh, how I wish I was a musician and could wring and bellow my heart out.
Saturday night was Boys Night. Bela Fleck Africa Project was high on my list of must-see. Bela is one of my favorite musicians. His versatility is awesome - and who can't love a man with a banjo on his knee (though there is a competing image of Kermt the frog and his banjo slightly misplaced into this moment...) I have seen Bela Fleck in lots of different settings, but this was amazing - to take a tour through Africa and meet incredible musicians working in vernacular forms for universal appeal to the human senses and emotions. It was super-human, the feats performed with these unique instruments. The joy effused from their faces and bodies as they played was infectious. They were funny, too. Anania Ngoliga sang a song about a girlfriend who sounded like a chicken and worked wonders with the thumb-piano or marimba. Vusi Mahlesela won me with his guitar, and his voice was a veritable percussian set. All eight musicians played together at the end, after taking turns. The way Bela's banjo (and Casey Driessen's fiddle) played with the Africans was wonderful, as they "explored the tenuous connection between bluegrass and traditional [African] music." What a perfect combination, after all.
Oh, how I wish I had a musician.
Photos by Banning Eyre, AfroPop