Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk, Steve Pierce
Malian blues virtuoso Mamadou Kelly and his band, Ban Kai Na, brought their encyclopedic knowledge of Mali’s music and fresh sophistication to the sounds from Niafunke for a free concert at Troy’s Freedom Square last weekend. There was plenty of free food and arts activities throughout the afternoon community celebration, but the stirring music of Kelly & Co. was at the heart of the day.
Lead vocalist and guitarist Kelly was joined by Alpha Ousmane Sankare (calabash, backing vocals), Ibrahim Nabo (backing vocals, hand percussion) and Brehima Cisse (djourkel, njarka), and despite the fact that their performance was interrupted by a couple of storms, the spirits of the band and the appreciative crowd remained high. Due to the weather delays, the free concert went on later into the evening than originally expected, but the twilight glow only seemed to enhance the band’s trance-inducing sound.