Review and photographs by Stanley Johnson
Additional photographs by Rudy Lu
“Travel the world with us, one concert at a time.” That’s the motto of the Music Haven Concert Series and the mission of Artistic Director Mona Golub. At the inaugural concert of the season in the Agnes Macdonald Music Haven in Schenectady’s Central Park, Golub remembered her first show in the park more than 20 years before, back when she ran Second Wind Productions.
“The concerts were over there on the side of the amphitheater on an old wooden stage,” she said, noting that she was particularly excited to have brought soukous musician Kanda Bongo Man to play in 1991. I remembered the show: in the wake of Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album and tour, soukous – meaning “shake” – was one of several styles of African music which were suddenly all the rage, and it was something of a coupe to have the real thing in Schenectady.
Kanda Bongo Man, who is currently touring this year in Europe, had an exciting band of dancers and musicians who played the hypnotic dance music that was anchored to the drums in a repetitive rhythm that was also very intricate in the feather-light, winding guitar lines of Diblo Dibala. Once you allowed yourself the freedom to dance and found the rhythm, it was almost impossible to stop dancing.