The 37th Annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival takes over the beautiful beach-side Jericho Beach Park starting on Friday evening, July 18 and going right through the weekend until Sunday night at 11pm, July 20. In addition to artists like Joan Baez, Andrew Bird, Amos Lee, Alejandro Escovedo and Ozomatli, there are some amazing bands from Africa on the roster. Zimbabwe’s Mokoomba is part of the Main Stage lineup, opening the festival on Friday evening, July 18 at 5pm. On Saturday night, Mauritania’s Noura Mint Seymali performs on Main Stage, and Fela’s son Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 deliver electrifying Afrobeat vibes on Main Stage Sunday night, July 20. These groups, along with Mozambique’s Banda Kakana may also perform on daytime workshop stages over the weekend. Full festival information is at www.thefestival.bc.ca. Daytime workshop schedules will be posted in early July
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The beautiful sounds of music direct from Africa will be wafting through the air at this year’s Vancouver Folk Music Festival, with four groups that will soon be winging their way to Jericho Beach Park for the weekend of July 18-20 to join over 60 other performers. Here is a little information about just some of the great music in store.
The festival welcomes the youngest member of the Kuti musical dynasty, Seun, who is more than ably carrying the Afrobeat torch lit by his father, Fela, forward with Seun Kuti & Egypt 80. The Kuti name casts a long shadow in the music world; the legendary Nigerian musician and bandleader both invented afrobeat and started a movement. Afrobeat was a container not only for monster rhythms but revolutionary commentary that reshaped the political landscape of Nigeria and other West African nations in the ’70s and ’80s.
At age nine, Seun confessed to his father his wish to sing, and soon became integral to Fela’s famous band Egypt 80, singing onstage with them. Fela died in 1997 when Seun was only 14; and at that very young age Seun became the leader of his father’s band. In concert, Egypt 80 plays a mix of originals and Fela Kuti’s recorded songs.
From Mozambique comes Banda Kakana, with a mix of marrabenta dance music and other Mozambican music fused with the sounds and rhythms of the world – Afro-jazz, pop and rock.
Lead singer Yolanda Chicane, together with Azarias Arone, founded the Maputo-based group, which has become a leading representative of a new generation of Mozambican bands. Yolanda’s rich, powerhouse vocals are the driving force in a sparkling sound, singing in Changana, Emacua, Chope, Portuguese and English.
With a youthful energy that bursts with natural talent and contagious rhythms, the six young musicians of Mokoomba are Zimbabwe’s next generation of hope. The band hails from Victoria Falls, playing tantalizing traditional Tonga beats mixed with modern Afro-fusion energy and the diverse cultural influences of southern Africa. Last December the group won “Best Newcomer” at the prestigious Songlines Music Awards (UK). Reviewers say this is music that’s “strong, modern, rooted in Africa and spiked with the spice of Latin, soukous, reggae, palm wine and other influences”.
From Mauritania’s unique cultural and geographic identity as a desert nation both physically and socially at the crossroads between North and Sub-Saharan Africa comes Noura Mint Seymali, one of the country’s foremost musical emissaries. Carrying an electrified ardine and backed by rock- and funk-inflected guitar, bass and drums, Seymali’s melodies weave a seductive desert-blues fusion.
For more information on Vancouver Folk Music Festival artists, go to www.thefestival.bc.ca
By Gwen Kallio