LIVE: Ranky Tanky @ Proctors’ GE Theatre, 2/9/18
Photographs by Rudy Lu
Music Haven at Proctors’ Passport Series travels the world one concert at a time, but this month the musical tour stop was actually right here in the U.S., on the islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. These islands were settled by slaves largely descended from West Africa. Their culture is known as Gullah.
At Proctors’ GE Theatre in Schenectady, Ranky Tanky played their version of the music of the Gullah culture to a large and appreciative crowd. Numerous popular songs have had Gullah roots, although that’s hasn’t been widely acknowledged – including the much maligned folk standard from the ’60s “Kumbaya,” Little Feat’s “Join the Band” and “You Gotta Move,” recorded by everyone from Mississippi Fred McDowell to the Rolling Stones.
Opening with “Join the Band,” the music set a celebratory vibe that quickly spread throughout the theater. The powerful voice of Quiana Parler filled the room, showing why she first captured national attention on “American Idol.” The soul-jazz trumpet of Charlton Singleton added richness to the sound. The rhythm section of Quentin Baxter (drums) and Kevin Hamilton (bass) had a distinctly R&B feel to it. Even though Hamilton was playing an upright bass, the voicing and sound more closely resembled that found in a rhythm and blues electric bass. One of guitarist Clayton Ross’ other projects is the world music band Matuto, so it cam as no surprise that his fretboard work clearly exhibited an African influence. “Turtle Dove” and “Go to Sleep” had the audience swaying and nodding their head to the gentle beat. “O Death,” the traditional song of faith and prayer, left the audience breathless.
The celebratory and spiritual music was much needed in these troubled times. I hope we hear more from this band soon.
UPCOMING: The Passport Series’ final concert of the season at Proctors is scheduled for 7:30pm on Friday, April 13 with “Africa Unplugged,” a double bill featuring South African guitarist Derek Gripper and a contemporary twist on ancient and uncharted repertoires of the Mali culture with Trio Da Kali. Tickets are $25.
GO HERE to see more of Rudy Lu’s photographs of this concert…