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Toubab Krewe brings rhythmic jams to Legends

By Derek Halsey (reporter@mountaintimes.com)



Article Published: Sep. 17, 2013 | Modified: Sep. 20, 2013
Toubab Krewe brings rhythmic jams to Legends

Asheville's Toubab Krewe will perform Sept. 19 in Boone.

Photo submitted



There was a time in the 1960s and 1970s when world music was very popular.

The cultural openness of that period made fertile ground for groups that created music outside of the United States.

Now, with the Internet giving curious music lovers the ability to search for sounds created around the planet at the click of a button, these are boom times for sonic global outreach once again.

Still, just because a band features congas or a djembe drum onstage doesn’t necessarily mean the sound of their percussive grooves are authentic and not gratuitous.

When it comes to the Asheville-based Toubab Krewe, which will perform at Legends in Boone Thursday, Sept. 19, the members of the group have dug deep into the African rhythm traditions that they showcase in their repertoire. They have taken the time to travel to countries like the Ivory Coast and Mali to study under local music teachers who have given them a bona fide base for their unique musical explorations.

The members of Toubab Krewe include Justin Perkins, Terrence Houston, Drew Heller, David Pransky and Luke Quaranta.

“Early on, we were influenced by (African) groups, such as Les Ballet Africains and Les Percussions de Guinee, and more recently when we started going to the Ivory Coast we listened to Yelemba d’ Abidjan and a group called Les Freres Coulibaly from Burkina Faso,” Quaranta said. “We are received well in Africa. The hospitality is amazing. We always stay with our teachers and their families, so we are treated like another sibling, really. We play drums and study music every day with our teachers, and their sons are usually a part of the sessions.

“We were received as eager music students. There wasn’t much else to it than that. We were taken care of, and we shared their traditions. We remain friends with all of those folks to this day. Our teacher, Lamine Soumano in Mali, who Justin and Drew first spent time with in 2004, his son is named after Drew and Justin, so it went from a teacher-student relationship to more of a father figure relationship. We’re helping Lamine build a music school now in Bamako, Mali. We’ve done it for about three years now through our ticket sales and through a beer we started in Asheville called Toubab Brewe. We’re raising money for him and Toubab to start a music school for underprivileged kids and employ him and his peers and other teachers.”

Even though the members of Toubab Krewe have studied percussion in depth here and overseas, they are not elitist when it comes to the everyday neophyte who can’t resist the urge to strike a drum.

“It’s interesting, man,” Quaranta said. “I think with the drum, it is such an universal and timeless instrument. Who knows when someone first put a skin over a hollowed out piece of log. The drum lends itself to people who feel like they can play it, even if they haven’t studied it. So, I have patience with it. But it is kind of like a double-edged sword. In some ways, you want people to feel that kind of openness to come to the drum, as it is very inspiring to play and to be around drumming. Then again, you can see people playing an instrument that has a lot of history, that has a whole cannon of traditional music behind it, but they don’t really understand it. That is what led us to go right to the source and to discover what the source was and to learn the context of the drum.”

Toubab Krewe and show openers The Broadcast will perform Sept. 19 at Legends, located on Hardin Street on the Appalachian State University campus in Boone. Doors open at 9 p.m., and tickets cost $10 for students in advance and $12 for members of the public and at the door. Legends has a BYOB six-pack limit with ID.

For more information, visit http://legends.appstate.edu and http://www.toubabkrewe.com.

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