"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

6.16.2008

last night in live music: extra golden

I wish I could say that I was familiar with Kenyan/American band Extra Golden prior to hearing them on NPR back in January when there was so much trouble in Kenya. But I wasn't.

Which is too bad, because having seen Extra Golden play at Club DeVille last night, it's clear that I should've been enjoying their music for the last few years. The band, formed by an American musicology graduate student and several incredibly talented Kenyan musicians, has been through a lot, including the lead singer having his home looted in this year's post-election violence.

I wondered how many people would show up for such an act, but this is Austin, and on Sunday night, there aren't so many options that they weren't going to get a good crowd. I hadn't been to Club DeVille since they installed a permanent stage, but it's a great setting with its natural rock amphitheater, and the crowd was a good mix of People Who Like Jam Bands, People Who Like Africa, and the usual assortment of Hipsters-than-Thou. Second opener Rattletree Marimba blew me away with their Shona-style Southern African music - when's the last time you saw a band comprised of six marimbists and a drummer? Two more and they'd have a neuftet. I will definintely be checking them out again at one of their Ruta Maya dance parties.

Fresh from a tour that included playing Bonnaroo on Thursday night, Extra Golden took the stage around 10:15 and proceeded to get the crowd on its feet. Their music is a blend of typical East African rhythms and American guitar playing. It's impossible not to dance to, and we had a great time joining in. It was so much fun, from the opening number, through their thank-you song to a fellow Luo named "Obama," and into the gorgeous, slower "It's Not Easy." It's amazing how a little music and a bunch of dancing hippies can take you back to a place on the other side of the world. Lead singer Onyango Jagwasi started the evening on a poignant note by thanking all the American fans who donated money to help the band members and their families after the post-election (anti-Luo) violence, and told the crowd that he prays for them each day.

Extra Golden is playing a bunch of dates all over the place this summer; don't miss them if you get the chance!

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