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Toubab Krewe fuses Western with West African 

click to enlarge Common ground: Toubab Krewe
  • Common ground: Toubab Krewe

Yes, Toubab Krewe can, strictly speaking, be called a jam band. It plays the requisite outdoor fests, and it fuses Western rock with world music. But consider this band a moment before you dismiss it as just another draw for the drum-circle crowd.

The group formed after three of the members were in an Asheville, N.C drum-and-dance ensemble called Common Ground; it finalized its current lineup as a five-piece band in 2005. What the group has come to produce is a combination of jazz and rock with traditional African instrumentation.

And the band does their homework: It has traveled multiple times to western Africa to study and play with musicians. In 2007, it played the Festival of the Desert in Mali, a music festival that celebrates the Tuareg culture there -- a far cry from Bonaroo (which, of course, it's also played).

There's plenty to be said about the musical and cultural fusion of the jam-band scene that Toubab comes from, and arguments about authenticity are both numerous and nuanced. But regardless of how much one valued authenticity, what's notable about Toubab Krewe is this: While a few white guys from Asheville playing African music might not come off as genuine, the musicians here have genuine intentions -- and beyond that, they've got genuine talent. That should be enough to make doubters, including those who turn their noses up at the jam scene, give Toubab another look.

 

Toubab Krewe. 10 p.m. Fri., Sept. 26. Club Café, 56-58 S. 12th St., South Side. $13. 21+. 412-431-4950 or www.clubcafelive.com

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