The Brand New Life headlined Friday (5/3) at Durty Durham's Pinhook fundraiser. (For supporting band The Black Experience, see yesterday's blog post.)
The Brand New Life at The Pinhook
Greensboro is some kind of strange rhythm nexus, attracting more than your average share of griots, drum classes, and African and Brazilian percussion specialists. In fact, all across the state, from Asheville's Toubab Krewe, to Greensboro's Africa Unplugged, and Carrboro's Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba, Africa/North Carolina hybrids are springing up like a cottage industry.
The Brand New Life belongs to Greensboro's gems. "Impossible to pigeonhole" has become a popular moniker for out-of-the-way bands, but: "Does several things very well that don't traditionally go together," better describes The Brand New Life. As the set started out Friday, they showed their free jazz, skronk funk side. "Just wait," I told some friends at the bar. Sure enough, they pulled out their heavy West African grooves next. In its history, the group has worked closely with musicians from Senegal, and musicians on the autism spectrum, both of whom released special synergies in the collective.
Sean Smith and Evan Frierson
Walter Fancourt and Seth Barden
Getting up to date with BNL's personnel changes during the past year: Tama drummer Mamadou Mbengue just left the area in March for Chicago, but percussionist and co-founder Evan Frierson has taken on the instrument, also called a talking drum. Scott Johnson plays congas since September, 2012, and electric guitarist Will Darity is a full-time member since June 2012, around the time of saxophonist and co-founder Casey Cranbrook's departure. Trumpeter Sean Smith (2006-2010 member of Asheville's Afromotive) holds up the horn harmonies now with tenor saxophonist and co-founder Walter Fancourt. Two more original members remain intact: Seth Barden (electric and upright bass), and Daniel Yount (trapset drums).
My video clip from Friday night shows Frierson ascending the stage for a talking drum cameo, followed by smoking horn solos from Fancourt and Smith, on an Afrobeat tune entitled "Everybody Like You, Boy."
It's an original tune, based on a traditional Senegalese tama/sabar rhythm. Made more Afrobeat by The Brand New Life. (--BNL trapset drummer Daniel Yount)
Seth Barden and Will Darity
The Brand New Life, artist website