Older than I'd like to be,younger than I'd like to be. Still raging against mass culture/conformity .. to be continued

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Black Umfolosi

@The Capilano Performing Arts Theatre

Sublime harmonies, poignant stories with an underlying melancholy. The group is after all from Zimbabwe currently suffering from an economy in disarray. Yet their sense of humour and love of life supersedes the sometimes-overarching sense of loss these songs can convey.

The gumboot dance for instance said to originate from miners slapping their boots to rid themselves of coal dust is a lively, stomping life affirming dance yet it’s roots cannot be divorced from the economic oppression that it sprung from.

Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika now the National Anthem of South Africa was a song instrumental in giving the community a voice during the long struggle against Apartheid yet the groups musical leader noted with sadness that Zimbabwe had now changed to a new National Anthem one which they still hadn’t learned and frankly found inferior.

Yes the Lion Sleeps Tonight (Wimoweh) was trotted out to get the rather stiff Canadian audience singing along and waving hands in the air, damn we’re so unfunky it’s not funny but truth be told it’s hard to get up and shake your butt in The Capilano Performing Arts Theatre due to it’s design.

Frankly though the groups songs don’t necessarily lend themselves to outbursts of frantic tribal dancing a la the Rave Culture as acapella music lacks those furious beats.
However those harmonies utilized to full effect on Shosholoza ("The Steam Train Song”) drew a sublime shiver down my spine not the least of which was one group members spot on imitation of a train whistle.

Ah if I could sing and dance like that I’d be a happy man.

Black Umfolosi are at The Banff Theatre on Feb 18

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