Friday, May 15, 2009

Extra Golden @ Bar Pink 5.14.09

I don't admit to many white boy cliches, but being fascinated and ultimately a bit frustrated by African drumming is one I'll own up to. I forever feel like Richard Jenkins in The Visitor, trying to will my body into rebellion against the standard convention of western rock. To me, it marks the difference between bobbing your head and shaking your hips. Some music just goes straight to the hips, and it never fails to make me happy.

But you can cruise the world music bin at Borders to just find African beats. I love me some Femi Kuti, some Ali Farke Toure, some Baobab. And generally speaking, I like them less when, say, Trey Anastasio or Dave Matthews goes to mess around with them. The difference here is that this is fusion, not collaboration or collision. Extra Golden has whipped up fantastic afrobeat with some serious indie chops, creating several great albums including the new EP Thank You Very Quickly (website, also on iTunes) released back in March which- having now listened to it several times- I can heartily recommend. It's Kenyan Benga soul with a semi-structured jam mentality that creates one of urban living's most rare sightings: the smiling, dancing hipster.

On top of everything else, these guys have a pretty amazing story. American rocker travels to Nairobi for a doctoral thesis in Kenyan music. Falls in with some local musicians, and comes back with a portable studio and a friend- band is born. Original member and catalyst Otieno Jagwasi died of liver failure in 2005, prompting lineup shuffling and all manner of scrambling to make a live debut at the 2006 Chicago World Music Festival. Now more or less DC-based, between last night and the new album it's pretty clear that the pieces have all fallen into place. This isn't an experiment anymore. It's an experience.

Thanks to Sharon Jeong for having a camera, cause I didn't even know I'd be seeing a show

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