Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Vieux Farka Toure - Cheick Hamala -- 9:30 Club - Aug 30 2011

Cheick Hamala - A large band assembles on stage. It turns out that it is led by the headliner's uncle. Eegads, nepotism in the entertainment business! No problem here however, as the band did a great job during their long set lasting nearly an hour. They had kit drums, bass, guitar, two additional percussionists, trumpet/percussion, dancer, and the uncle who played an interesting string instrument, banjo and guitar. At several points, there were four percussionists cooking up a stew with just a bass and guitar playing a simple melodic line. Other times, there was plenty of rhythm and solo moves that covered the usual suspects of West-African folk-flues, jazz, and rock. Vocals were light, spare and worked nicely as a simple accompaniment. And sometimes I wonder why you would need a dancer, but after the hour when I realized I spent more time looking at her than the rest of the band, I realized I need to stop asking that silly question. She did have some traditional moves down based on my limited knowledge of going out with someone who was in an African Dance group in Colorado 20 years ago. I was a bit worried early as the club was really slow in getting a crowd in, but by set's end, the dance floor was filled enough to look like a crowd and the people were having a great time.

Vieux Farka Toure - The son of a legend (Ali) is working his way up to becoming a legend himself. I have seen him work his guitar magic at the Rock'n'Roll Hotel in June 2009 and the DC9 (smaller stage?) in April 2010. Finally, a deserved trip to a bigger stage. Interestingly enough, his band is stripped down from 5 members to just a power trio for this show. Not that it really matters as his guitar work (like many of the great axe slingers in trios) does not need a lot of help. Thankfully, it looks like the same rhythm section who know how to rock out and handle interesting African rhythms. Even if I did not already recognize the drummer, his slinky-cut triangle cymbal is one of a kind. Unlike the expert I sat with last time, I don't know all the nuances of West African blues, although I have heard a few versions of it over recent years. It is excellent enough, but Vieux adds so many rock moves and even traces of psyche swirl, that you really don't need to be an expert to enjoy his music. It is akin to the great Turkish guitarist Erkin Koray--just substitute the ethnic source of the music and you have a great guitarist taking roots music to the rock loving world. The 100-minute set flew by and was a blast as usual. Opening band members came out off and on to dance which was cool, although the tossing dollar bills on him got tiring as it was a bit too much of the "make it rain" vibe. And Vieux's attempt at a singalong was way too complex until another guy jumped in and just did a series of "Hey-O"s which the audience happily handled. Another great set by a real guitar master who keeps the fun in the music while showing off his considerable skills. The bright future seems to be here.

Quote of the Night: Since I could only pick up 1/2 to 2/3 of the English that was said on stage due to the usual mic issues and thick accents, I will go with one of my enjoyable blistering media blasts at the Football365 web site.  And it is appropriate since Vieux Farka Toure was invited to South Africa to play at the World Cup celebrations last year.

Blame The Kid
As per usual, West Ham's departure from the League Cup on Wednesday at the hands of the mighty Aldershot was someone's fault, but it sure as hell wasn't Sam Allardyce's.

That's according to the man himself anyway, who preferred to blame the 19-year-old Callum McNaughton, who got sent off on his debut, rather than the chap who trained the squad, picked the team and decided the tactics.

Allardyce said: "We would have won the game if it had stayed 11 v 11 - that's the reality. I live in reality whilst most people in football live in perception."

So in Sam's world, 'reality' is whatever he says will happen, even if it is a speculative appraisal of what might've happened presented as stone cold factual reality, while any contrary opinion is mere 'perception.'


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