Although you might not recognize all of the instruments, their funky groove and playful attitude is global.
Tonight (Thursday, Nov. 22), world-renowned guitarist Alpha Yaya Diallo will perform alongside an eclectic group of musicians during a West African Guitar Summit performance at the E. A. Rawlinson Centre.
“We just want to have people come, enjoy the energy, and learn from West Africa,” Diallo said, noting that the show will be quite different from his last performance in Prince Albert, two years ago.
Last time around, the Guinea-born, Vancouver-based performer left his band behind to play a low-key francophone show.
This time, he’s bringing eight eclectic musicians from throughout western Africa with him, filling out a full sound for people to chair-dance to.
“This is music and dance with lots of energy,” Diallo said during a tour stop in Toronto last week.
“They’re unique instruments, with the dancing, the clothing and the percussion -- there’s a lot of energy.”
Traditional African instruments will be complemented by more contemporary ones, namely Diallo’s guitar and a band member’s bass guitar.
“We want to show that traditional music -- African music and the contemporary African music -- how they connect,” Diallo said.
“We want to show that dialogue between instruments, and melody between the instruments so the language of music -- that’s what I want to express on stage.”
The kora is a 21-stringed instrument -- “It’s like the African Harp,” Diallo explained.
A balafon, described as a traditional wooden xylophone, is also featured, alongside unique percussion instruments.
We just want to have people come, enjoy the energy, and learn from West Africa. - Alpha Yaya Diallo, musician
With these instruments unique to most Canadian audiences, Diallo said that he plans on explaining their background and significance.
Diallo’s current tour was a few days in when the Daily Herald caught up with him, and has been going very well so far, with “a lot of action, a lot of energy,” he said.
Accompany the tour has been underlying messages around taking action in the world around one’s self, in keeping with the them of his latest album, Immé, which translates to Get Up.
“Get up, let’s face the challenges, let’s fight the challenges the world is facing today, from political issues to environmental issues,” he said.
“There’s a lack of water, no rain, no places to stay, so this is a big challenge for the world … We have to wake up, we have to get up and stand to fight these things. We have to protect the environment.”
Music’s role in all of this isn’t the biggest, but is still an important one. It’s to send a message.
“Artists can talk and send a message through the music. We can communicate through the music,” Diallo said.
Although he has various important issues to share, the key one he plans on communicating in Prince Albert tonight is for people to have fun.
“I’ll be glad to come back there,” Diallo said of Prince Albert. “The reception was great when we were there a few years go.”
Tickets are still available at the E. A. Rawlinson Centre’s box office by calling 765-1270. Tonight’s show will begin at 7:30 p.m.