After an endless procession of world class bands over the last few weeks, I finally took a break the other night...only to discover I missd an outstanding Bulgarian group that were part of the Small World Festival. Tonight I ended up at Harbourfront through a succession of changed week-end plans. Boy, am I glad I did. I got there in time to hear a wonderful kora player called Seckou Keita. Just last Sunday I heard the world-renowned kora player Mamadou Diabate but somehow I was not as mesmerized by him. Maybe it's because I was standing off to the side having conversations or eating exotic food. This Seckou Keita was a virtuoso but more importantly, he had the groove. He was really holding it together with his quartet, fiddle, string bass and his brother playing some strange drum set-up where the round top of a drum was hit with the hand to make a "kick" sound and played with a light stick to get a "clicking" sound. There was a cymball, though I only recall seeing it used one time. The main feature was the Jamaica-Toronto Connection with a lot of old-timers. When they first came on, one of the vocal mics was not turned on when he started singing into it, se he ran one way and and the money went the other way.
TIPS TO TAKE HOME: Throughout his set, he would launch into a solo "duel" with one of his sidemen. This would be built up to a fever pitch (and although he didn't do it, I love it when one of those solos gets so loud and intense that you don't know who's playing what! I strive to get it up to that point and achieved it with Roberta (in a rhuthmical way) but also got it happening with Carlos' harp a few days before. I just found exactly the same note as Carlos was wailing then try to get the guitar sounding as much like the harp as possible - so sometiems you could play the note together and it would crteate some wild flaging effects and perk up the audience. ANOTHER IDEA: Try doing "Ghost of Clinton's Tavern" at a much slower (more African) rhythm