Friday, October 14, 2011

John K Band - Elikeh -- Rock'n'Roll Hotel - Oct 13 2011

Elikeh - I have seen this local collective enough times to be impressed that they are a significant player in the local scene. They are also a significant part of the global West African blues-meets-rock scene. They have been a perfect match with Vieux Farka Toure in the past and are now tonight playing a co-headlining local bill. There was only one major item I really wanted to check on as I was pretty confident I would enjoy their set. And that was whether the Thursday night crowd would be sufficient for a club of this size. I was quite happy to see that it was a well filled house with only a bit of space in front and at the rear of the club (well they could have also squeezed people into sardines). The crowd was supportive early on and the band was hitting on all cylinders again. As the set went on, the dancing and enthusiasm picked up noticeably as this band can still pull people into their music each and every time they play. It is a similar line-up that they play with with Togo native Massama Dogo on vocals, guitar and percussion. I have written much about them before and you can see that here or on links at their site (which also features some music so go there). And again, I see a great core rock sound especially from the kit drums. Plenty of congas, gourds, and wood blocks add the African rhythms. The guitar work is excellent and the brass, keyboards and bass all add what is needed. There is a lot to absorb but the band plays so well as a unit, you can just drift away, dance and take it all in. Everyone should add some west-African music to their listening experiences and we are fortunate to have that right here in DC in Elikeh.

John K Band - John K is the guitarist and he is joined by bass, drums, keyboards, saxophone+, and percussion. I must admit I am less than thrilled at the choice of opener, a cover of James Taylor's "How Sweet it is Being Loved by You". In fact in my over a thousand reviews of live shows and CDs, this is the first mention of James Taylor, so that is about all I need to say on the subject. Of course it was better thereafter as these guys can play. At first they seemed like a really good bar band, but they got better than that even as they showed themselves as a quality jam band with great soloing on guitar, keyboards and sax. I am not a huge fan of the style, but if its well done, it works and it was working tonight for the still large crowd (thinned out a tad). And in doing my research after the show, indeed, jam bands are the appropriate discussion as John K was once in the Dark Star Orchestra. If you like this sort of music, this band does it well. Although it's not on my short list of favorite styles, they have enough quality that in future I will stick around for their set and watch their skillful playing.

Quote of the Night: Well kind of a quote. A guy came up during Elikeh's set as we were both swaying and bobbing to the music and turned around and started signing me. I shrugged and he moved on. So I am nagged by the mystery in both the message and the delivery system.

No comments: