Thursday, July 16, 2009

African Banjo

Did you know that the banjo actually originated in West Africa? It first arrived on North American shores on the slave ships in the 1800's. That's what banjo plucker extraordinaire, Jayme Stone told us last night at the concert in Harvey Hall.

The show was a remarkable event, and not least of all was the combination of instruments: percussion (including calabash--a huge gourd), stand-up bass (played by a suitably tall, moustachioed fellow), banjo (like you've never heard before) and kora (wondrous to behold and to hear). Remarkable were the acoustics in this backwoods former church, Harvey Hall, that has been converted into a summer concert venue. Remarkable was the presence of a musician from Mali, Mansa Sissoko. Remarkable that the audience did not stone the Mali musician for speaking in French only: this is Albert County where, until very recently, Francophones feared to tread, such was the English-Acadian mistrust and hatred of each other. But a young faction of Acadians had actually ventured in from the city to experience this concert and they added a wonderfully exuberant groove to the whole shindig. By encore time they were up at the front of the stage dancing their hearts out. (I was standing up on a bench at the side of the room movin' and groovin' myself.)

It was a full house. The concerts are always packed with people of all ages, though there seems to be a preponderance of grey-haired individuals. It was fun to watch the older gents in their check shirts bobbing in time with the music. I always wonder, though, about those people at rousing concerts who sit absolutely motionless. I used to be a dancer and just cannot stay still for the life of me. The woman next to me was one of those stock-stillists. But when the band invited the audience to clap along, she gamely joined in. And then I realized why she, and probably others like her, do not groove to the music. They have no rhythm! I mean, she could not stay on the beat to clap her hands. It was as if a whole new concept was presented to her every time it came around to go clap-clap. It was a revelation to me (in spite of my experience of trying to teach an adult beginners' jazz dance class at one point in my past life).

Another appealing aspect of the summer concerts at Harvey Hall are the treats available at intermission. Homebaked brownies, matrimonial squares, Nanaimo bars, peanut butter cookies, oatmeal cookies, etc. etc. I always grab the biggest brownie I can find. Payment is by contribution on the honour system.

After intermission, things were a bit warm (all that sugar) so the side door was opened. Did I mention that the hall is located in the middle of a marsh? As the wind died down, the mosquitoes stirred up a breeze of their own as they rushed in through the open door. Soon the woman who couldn't clap in time to the beat of the music was joined by other audience members clapping and slapping in weird syncopated times, as they did battle with the voracious mosquitoes (all that sugar).

As my mother would say, a good time was had by all.
Including the mosquitoes.

Harvey Hall (image courtesy of the Hall's hosts, Isaac & Blewitt website)


  1. Wish I coulda been there!
    Confession: I do not clap along at concerts because I fear that I will miss the beat. Or be the last one clapping. BUT I DANCE!

  2. I rarely clap along at concerts either--I want to hear the music, not clapping! But if the band seems really keen on it, I might...for a bit...

    Dancing, even in one's chair, is definitely preferable. And you, honey-- I knows you gots the moves! I wish you coulda been there, too. Keep on rockin' in the free world!

  3. Hi Lynne! Harvey Hall looks nice from that photo, I can always do without the skeeters though! I'm pretty sure I have rhythm, but I'm not really a clapper, I'm a "chair dancer", lol!

  4. MMmmmm mmm, sounds finger licking good ! Hmmm, referring to which ? The brownies ? The music ? The whole shebang ? What the mosquitoes said ? Sounds wonderful Lynne ! Now if you'd just had Skype on your portable phone you could have given us a live feed... well, I see Jayme Stone is on YouTube with Sissoko. What can't be found on YouTube? So who else will be on the agenda this Summer at Harvey Hall ?

  5. Hi Rain, I do think they could make a tidy profit selling bug repellent at HH. Glad to hear you're a chair dancer (not to be confused with a lap dancer!)

  6. Oh, lap dancer, is that what they call it in NB? LOL!!! Me so naughty!!!

  7. What's the matter with lap dancing ??? :-D

  8. Hey Owen, I didn't think to check out YouTube for appropriate tunes to illustrate my blog. (duh! to me). We did try a little video with my digital but it wasn't worth posting.

    Next HH show will feature "acoustic blues sensation Matt Anderson - multiple East Coast Music Award winner." I've never heard of him but it's sure to be fun.

    What's a portable phone, Owen??!

  9. Owen, you mean dancing while you're jogging around the gym track? Oh nothing wrong with that, I'm quite a lap dancer actually.

  10. I am blushing. Well, I'm not really, but I feel I should be!

  11. Why what are you guys talking about? LOL (as her blush deepens to dark red...) Hey you started it!!!! :)

  12. I don't know why Owen's always leaving naughty comments on MY blog!

  13. LOL,, ummm...Owen? Anything to say in your defence here?

  14. It wasn't me !!! It was an impostor who got their hands on my blogger password... wait til I get my hands on the rascal !!! :-D

    And what was so naughty anyway ? I just wondered what was the matter with lap dancing ? Sounds like fun to me. And Rain came up with the perfect answer... I'm heading for the quarter mile track to go jog some laps... Maybe that is what they do on cold nights in Lapland, now that I think of it...

    Umm, Lynne, my goodness, a portable phone is sort of like a porta-potty, but it fits in your pocket. The first is for people with diarrhea, the second is for people with verbal diarrhea who have to run at the mouth loudly and vociferously in public places.

    Oh my, did I just say that ??? On Lynne's lovely and respectable art blog... I'm terrible... I'm going to get banished if I keep talking like that. I won't even go into the conversation I heard some people having at work the other day about the Tour de France bicycle race, which is in progress as we speak, and more specifically, as to how cyclists relieve their natural needs during a five hour stretch on a bike...

    Now, can we get this conversation back up out of the gutter and back on the table where a good conversation belongs ??? All this horsing around and blushing and guffawing and galumphing has to stop !!! Ok ?!? I mean it !!! ;-D

  15. Looks like I am late to this party and all the nuahgty comments have been taken care of!
    Your night out sounds fantastic!

  16. LOL oh my goodness, Lynne did you survive this? :-))

  17. Good God, people! (Owen)--I go out for a nice little evening ramble and when I get back I find my comment box has turned into a speak-easy!

    I love it!
    Lapland--what a great name for a certain type of "gentleman's" club!
    Porta-potty for the mouth. hahahaha!

    My grandfather was a champion cyclist. He competed in long-distance road races but I never thought to ask him about the pee-pee factor. But then, one wouldn't.

    Saj--Sorry about all the spilled drinks, cigarette butts, broken bottles, and overflowing toilets when you turned up. Things (Owen) got a little out of hand...

    Rain--I alway don my SWAT suit before venturing into my comment box!

  18. Oh dear... must write on the chalk board one hundred times....

    "I will not be a source of comment box pollution"

    And once done... will no doubt need a drink... alright, where's that inter-continental speak-easy ??? Gosh what it must have been to go into a real speak-easy... what conversations must have transpired in such places...

    Oh joyous day... maybe I better go join a monastery... in Lapland, and disappear for a few years, get my wicked head in order... :-D