By James Hutchinson
The soulful intimations weaving between the performers Habib Koité, Oliver Mtukudzi, and Afel Bocoum have conspired to form an unlikely testament to the recognition of traditional African custom: Acoustic Africa.
The acclaimed troupe has marked a constellation of dots across North America from Maine, California, Canada, and New York to setting their sights on the Mariner Theater for a show on April 3.
Any with a mind for Acoustic Africa’s dot-to-dot will doubtless mark the occasion a welcome intrusion. But what of the rest? Surely the worst fate stuck in art is to be ignored, so it is hoped that Acoustic Africa’s amalgamated talent is—if not loved—then recognized. For that, the necessity of shared experience becomes manifest.
The group, Habib Koité, Oliver Mtukudzi, and Afel Bocoum present a theatric gamut, the mixed coterie of soulful African traditionalism and western style brewed for the live sensibility. For Acoustic Africa, the word “live” receives a special intimation, as evinced by their appeal to the collected throng: Lucas Easton, a 2010 Homer High graduate, was able to see them recently at the Maine Lobster Festival. Half the crowd surged to the front to dance. Soon, a communal clap to the band’s rhythm called throughout the venue.
“They were smiling and laughing; it looked like they were having a blast,” Easton says. “They seemed to be enjoying it as much as the audience was enjoying it.”
That this act wasn’t merely accepted, but embraced in the home of the coveted “Maine Lobster Festival,” is telling. It highlights the group’s ability to transcend societal schisms and achieve communicability: inclusivity.
A live show is tantamount to an invitation, a broaching attempt at conversation between two seemingly disparate cultures. As Easton summarizes: “It was just an unbelievable experience.”
On April 3, there will be an intrusion into another seaside hamlet.
Tickets on sale at Homer Council on the Arts, The Homer Bookstore or on line at www.homerart.org.
James Hutchinson is a Homer High School senior
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