Last Friday night at the Pour House was an energetic one. Emma’s Lounge couldn’t keep from laughing as the crowd, pumped up by the sounds of Africa Unplugged, danced and cheered along to their sound check. They thanked the crowd and Jac Cain for the best sound check they’ve ever had.
The crowd had every reason to be excitable after Africa Unplugged, the only Triangle band to play, put on a show that did not disappoint. The African drums kept a steady and energetic beat that set the stage for a beautiful display of vocals and guitar. The harmonies of Africa Unplugged are sweeter than honey! The band manages to get you going and chilled out all at the same time. Fans of Africa Unplugged would have noticed the guitarist was not who they had come to expect. JC Martin filled Will Darity’s shoes last Friday night. JC normally plays in the jazz/hip hop band the jonDoe, however this week he brought the soul and laid down some stellar solos for Africa Unplugged.
Sandwiched between the African beats of Toubab Krewe and Africa Unplugged, we heard the unique sounds of Emma’s lounge. If a fiddle made love to a synth while listening to James Brown, the baby would be an Emma’s Lounge set. These guys bring such an amazing amount of energy to the stage. Everyone was moving along with the band, dancing to their rocky dance vibe punctuated by fiddle fills and long holds of Meg’s beautiful voice. Emma’s Lounge reminds me a bit of Dr. Bacon, not only because they are both from Asheville, but more importantly because of their dedication to making every show a party and their unflappable pursuit of their own unique sound. Both bands take genres that seem to mix as well as oil and water, only to emulsify them into something nuanced and captivating.
At the end of the set, Emma’s Lounge played us a song that they had only played once before and are working on for their upcoming album — we will let you know when they have a release date. The song had a real catchy 80’s dance vibe with a special Emma’s Lounge twist to it, of course. It was the best song they played. The only thing that got the tune out of my head was Toubab Krewe coming onstage.
After the high energy set of Emma’s Lounge, the crowd pressed in for the jam with Toubab Krewe, who took us on a journey. Toubab Krewe’s distinct sound is hinged around their sharp high pitched drums and the use of the kora. A kora is an African harp constructed from a large gourd with cow hide over the face and a long wooden neck.
I found it very easy to turn inward and let Toubab Krewe’s music take me away. It’s the kind of music that you let move you instead of having to dance to. They are an instrumental band, so there is no chance to be taken anywhere specific by lyrics, you are free to drift through the sound waves and let your mind attach to whatever catches its attention. There is a lot to grab a hold of.
At a certain point it occurred to me that this would be a perfect band to practice my breathing meditations to. I began to intentionally hyperventilate along to the music, eventually to then empty my lungs and hold. A little word of warning: don’t try this style of meditation for the first time standing up, it can make you very light headed at times. Meditating on Toubab Krewe’s music in this way was great for me, however. It allowed me to feel out and connect more directly with the sounds and movements of such great musicians. Meditation or no, Toubab Krewe has a unique and powerful sound that is very worth it to go and see.
After the show I was interested to see seeds on the merch table along with all of the usual album’s stickers and shirts. Toubab Krewe has partnered with Seed Programs International, a non-profit out of Asheville, to provide a box set of vegetable seeds with which to take home and start a garden. This horticultural merch is one of the ways Toubab Krewe is promoting their new album Stylo. The album art is incorporated in the packaging design, making it a cool and functional item to collect. Also, a portion of the proceeds went to the organization that sends seeds all over the world.
Friday night was great from beginning to end. If you haven’t seen these bands play I highly recommend catching them next time they are in you area. We will keep you posted on their local activity.