I saw Toubab Krewe last night, and holy moley, what a band.
I first heard of them a couple years ago; I was driving and this awesome, incredible, intricate song came on the radio, so enrapturing I had to pull over and listen. It was on WNCW, and the DJ said they were a local band who had studied West African music. Then I was listening to AfroPop Worldwide a few months later, and there they were - on AfroPop Worldwide! - this band from Asheville, NC.
I got to see them live last year, and was entranced. You can't not dance when you hear them play, it's Mali and jazz and beach and bluegrass and West African and rock and surf and reggae, and always, always, the driving beat of the drums.
A few days ago, I wrote a list of concerts I had seen to enter a contest at the Pioneer Woman. I don' t think I ever realized how many I had seen before! It would be an exercise of ego to list them here - but just know, it was many, and they were very, very good. And I could remember every single night of each concert, each time the lights fell and the magic began. Live music helps me remember I'm alive, it touches my cells and my neural pathways and wakes me up. I remember seeing Richard Thompson and it was in a place here where people usually sit and listen politely, and it wasn't even music to dance to, but I had to stand up, I had to, to let his music hit me full force, the sound waves hit me full in the body. Magic.
So why had it been so long since I had seen live music? Except for a coffeehouse concert here and there by one friend or another, the last concert I saw was when Evan and I went to see Reel Big Fish for his 14th birthday. (what fun! I wore my Mr. Bubble T-shirt, and at one point realized my shirt was older than 98% of the audience! Evan and I danced and danced.) I'm tempted to say I lost that part of myself, but I hadn't... it wasn't lost, but maybe temporarily forgotten. In prioritizing, rent comes before going out, and things have been tight here, people, for quite a while. And when the boys were younger, it didn't seem worth it to find a sitter and leave them... I mean, they're some of my favorite people on the whole planet, my kids.
But after last night... after last night when I got taken on a journey as soon as the music started, got totally wrapped up in the rhythms and the ebb and the flow... it might be a bit higher up the priority list. Toubab Krewe has a magic that's not completely evident in their recorded music. The way they play, with quieting then slowly getting louder, and faster, and then the djembe starts and they get even faster and more complex and the sound from each instrument weaves its way in and out of the others, until they come together in a magical whole and you find your body is moving, moving of its own will and in its own way and so is everyone around you, and you're high, high, high without having ingested anything stronger than spring water... heaven. Heaven right here on earth.
And the dude's playing a kora! A freakin' kora! I definitely recommend the experience. And their music. They're on tour -- maybe near you! Please, go dance and be escorted on that journey. I'll meet ya there.