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A Concert and a Fun Evening Out

Last Saturday night John and I attended a concert at a nearby Cultural Center.  We have never attended any events there in all of our years here.  We paid about $4.00 each to get in to hear one of the foremost musical groups here in this country. The amphitheater is outside with fairly comfortable chairs.  It would be best to go during the cool season.  The night we were there was quite comfortable, but I can imagine it would not be as enjoyable when it is really hot.

 The group is called Mamar Kassey.  Their name comes from history:  Askia Mohammed, the greatest king of the Songhai, was also known as Mamar Kassey.  

The concert was to start at 8:30, but probably didn't get going until 9:00 and then lasted until almost 11:00.  Honestly, we didn't catch a lot of the lyrics.  Some of the songs seemed to be poking good fun at the culture, while some dealt with issues and current events such as child trafficking.  The leader of the group, Yacouba Moumouni, was very entertaining with a great sense of humor.

The distinguishing thing about this group is that they mix traditional instruments with modern instruments.  The music itself has a traditional pentatonic sound combined with a bit of reggae, a bit of jazz, and maybe even a bit of hip-hop.  The audience was very enthusiastic and engaged.
Playing a gaasu, which is a calabash hollowed out and turned upside down, usually over a hole in the ground for greater resonance.  It is played here by hitting the rings on his fingers on the calabash.  When the calabash is hit with a "hand" of sticks, it has a distinctive sound associated with spirit worship.
A moolo, which is a three stringed guitar sort of instrument.
Throw in an bass guitar (there was also an electric guitar) for a modern sound.
A drum called a dondon and another sort of drum.  This guy was drum was under his arm and the other strapped to his leg and he played both at the same time.
Even though he is Songhai/Zarma, he has learned to play a Fulani flute, called a seese in Songhai.
Playing a kora.  John tells me these can be much larger than this one.
A close-up of the kora.

There were two girls doing traditional dances.  I just want to say these girls were IN SHAPE!!!  They danced almost non-stop for nearly two hours.  
For $4.00 per person, it's likely we will try going to other concerts and events in the future.