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'There's a photo of a quite a nice looking black guy on the programme, so I've bought tickets.'
Not the most musical inticement to a gig I've ever received, but I went along anyway. The ex-church building was set up nicely with a decent PA and reasonable lighting, which imporessed me, while the veggie macrobiotic tapas dinner was over-priced, hugely MotherEarth and served by the skinniest advert for 'healthy living' ever to survive the evening.
Anyway, the gig started with the entertaining percussionist smiling broadly from the centre of his very black face, and his machine-gun bongo style was set in place. Mr Tee-Jay arrived and played a chord for ten minutes, while the lady shook her shaker and the drummer worked hard. Oh, Abdul also sang, but the repetitive nature of the musical accompanyment, which was, I think, supposed to be mesmeric or trance-like, was actually a bit dull and beset with buzzing finger inaccuracies. As the evening progressed, the 'songs' became more structured - one had as many as four chords - but none featured the chorus, verse, chorus, middle eight structure I have been brought up to expect.
This, of course, is entirely my fault. This was Palm Wine music, inspired in Sierra Leone by poverty-stricken drunks whose 'woman is gone, now I is all alone, a-ley, ley, ley, a-lay, ley.' Once I had worked out the style, I began to see some of the texture. I had to give up waiting for the Bminor that never arrived, but admire the use of open chord tuning, the amazing half-guitar, half sculpture instrument and the happy atmosphere.
The skinny woman who had served the tapas got up and began to dance. I feared for her life, as she couldn't possibly have the strength to survive standing up for much longer, surely?
By the end of the evening, I had warmed to the stolen chicken song, and we had eventually been treated to some more adventurous guitar playing. Nice evening out.