by carl wilson

News from Nairobi: Extra Golden Need Your Gold

At the IAJE panel on Friday, there was some discussion of the wisdom-or-lack-thereof involved in mixing opinions on current affairs into music blogging - with the general sense being that unless you bring something unique to the topic, it's unwise. The example that came up was commenting on the unrest in Kenya - no reason why some random music writer should start throwing his two bits into that well, we said. So it's kind of ironic that five days later, I actually find myself having cause to bring up Kenya.

The reason is an appeal for help from Alex Minoff and Ian Eagleson, the American members of Extra Golden, on behalf of Opiyo Bilongo, Onyango Wuod Omari and Onyango Jagwasi, their bandmates who live in Kenya. Bilongo, Omari and Jagwasi make their livings as nightclub musicians in Nairobi, but with the current all-night curfews, they've been unable to work. They've also been forced from their homes, which have been looted. Their families have almost no food and no clean water. Minoff and Eagleson are asking for donations of $5 to via Paypal.

Extra Golden's mixture of Kenyan benga music (the Kenyan musicians are from a group called Orchestra Extra Solar Africa) with D.C. rock (Minoff is also a member of Weird War, while Eagleson is an ethnomusicologist) goes down beautifully, with much more richness than the African-rock pastiche efforts of certain fashionable bands. Nothing against pastiche, or even against those bands particularly, but it's heartening to hear a more intimately collaborative approach to third-world musics.

Their current predicament is, like many of the stories out of New Orleans in the past few years, a potent reminder that whenever crisis affects a population broadly, you can be sure that it's affecting the art and culture of those people as well; and that, conversely, it's vital not to reduce any place and people to its problems. As Henning Mankell told me for the profile I wrote last year, "the West knows all about how Africans die but next to nothing about how Africans live," from their daily working lives to the nightclubs and dances they attend - except, that is, when there's a dusk-to-dawn curfew.

On a tangent, recalling the Tinariwen discussion here in November, it was at their concert that I learned about the Festival au Desert, which took place in Timbuktu last weekend. My colleague Stephanie Nolen's report from Mali in The Globe and Mail, which follows the experience of a group of Inuit performers there, is very worthwhile.

Likewise, the promo video below for Extra Golden's latest album, Hera Ma Nono, which came out in October.

General | Posted by zoilus on Tuesday, January 15 at 1:25 PM | Linking Posts | Comments (0)




Zoilus by Carl Wilson