Sounds from Africa: Catch a free gig with Boombay Djembe Folas tonight
Listen to Boombay Djembe Folas, a group that celebrates the traditional music of Burkina Faso and Mali, at a free gig tonight
Anand Bhagat, frontman of Boombay Djembe Folas, plays the balafon
Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation in West Africa, might be known to the world for its military coups and droughts, yet this has been no hindrance to its cultural revolutions. The country is popular for traditional Folk poetry and instruments like the djembe and balafon. Anand Bhagat -- a Mumbai-based percussionist who visited it to study the various rhythmic patterns from the Griots a few years ago -- will present a set dedicated to his teachers at a gig tonight. His band is called Boombay Djembe Folas that also comprises Tejas Parekh (dununs, sangbang), Prathamesh Kandalkar (djembe and vocals) and Tre Munroe (kenkeni, vocals).
Formed in early 2014, they are among the first to introduce Mumbai's music lovers to West African music. “The Griots are a family who follow an oral tradition of passing music to generations. They are keepers of the music,” informs Bhagat. The 30-year-old didn't want to return but he had other commitments in India. “I keep going there. I have been learning their music since I was a kid. Whenever I need to refine my skills, I go,” he adds. Apart from Burkina Faso, Bhagat has also lived in Mali.
The band will be using balafons (a large xylophone) and dununs (a rope-tuned cylindrical drum) -- two extremely traditional instruments from the region -- in their performance. “It is rare to find these instruments in India,” says Bhagat.
For tonight's gig, the band will be playing rearranged versions of traditional West African songs. “They are more than 100 years old. West Africa was one empire that later split into different countries. We formed this band to showcase their music, so try to maintain authenticity amidst our arrangements.”
Among the songs, Balakulandjan -- a song about a long-legged bird bringing happiness -- is a must-listen at the gig. “We are doing this track for the first time. I learnt this from the Griots. The song, Sinte Konofe, which talks about belief and hope in times of struggle is an inspiring one too,” informs Bhagat.
On Tonight, 9.30 pm
At Bonobo, second floor, Kenilworth Mall, Phase 2, off Linking Road, Bandra (W).