Afro Spot All Stars

Hootananny 25/08/10

Wednesday, rain plummeting down…the only thing to do was to head to Hootananny and get an enormous dose of warming West African music.

Dripping through the door, Hootananny was the quietest I’d ever seen it. But the relaxed atmosphere did not stop Kodjovi Kush (who’s also the bassist in Brixton’s Soothsayers) and his band from ensuring this Afro Spot night (on every last Wednesday of the month at Hootananny) was one packed with energy.

The band included two guitars, bass, saxophone, vocals and ‘legendary drummer Kofi Adu’. From the moment it began you forgot your feet were soggy and took you somewhere a whole lot sunnier. The style of the music is High Life, which is a genre really popular in West Africa. It began in the early 1900s in Ghana and spread, with its jazzy horns and several guitars leading the way.

The guitars lilted whilst the rhythm resembled samba music in places and in many of the songs the saxophone solos gave it a more intense feel. Rhythms are key throughout and in some of the songs it the rhythm built in tempo, making it impossible not to move to. What’s great about this music is that although it has it’s own definite style, you can hear waves of other styles in it too, such as Blues and Dub every now and again.

In the middle of the set, a person who I just thought was an enthusiastic member of the audience calmly climbed up on stage and began playing with the band! Relaxed and clearly a master at the guitar, he started playing and after a few minutes everyone started dancing. What had before been a few people moving to the music, became a room full of people going for it on with the unusually spacious dance floor.

Another thing that made this gig so fun was that the band was clearly having a great time. Totally unphased by the fact that it was pretty quiet, they focused on the music and their positivity rubbed off. The drummer added a extra bit of magic as at the end of a lot of the songs he crashed around on the drums to finish it off…a bit like Animal with more High Life and less hair!

All in all the night was low key but brimming with life, a perfect way to ensure summer isn’t over yet. Be sure to catch next months Afro Spot.