When it’s hot like it is now – 95 degrees (or more) – I think back to a night at 1st Avenue in Minneapolis in 1986. This was Prince’s club for a while. The entire summer was hot and every night out, I’d pour beer in and, with a little dancing or even just bouncing up and down, the sweat poured out.
Sunny Ti De Aryia
King Sunny Ade was on his first tour of the states. I had been listening to the album and had read that he and the band often played for up to twelve hours at a time. They took a few breaks for liquid replenishment because Nigeria is as hot as Minnesota, but mostly they played. Long jams, many drums, and dancers. Can you believe they brought their own dancers?!
At first, a lone guy, with a talking drum under his arm, walked to the stage and took his place on one of the risers. Then, someone else walked up to a bigger drum, then another and another and another joined him. The rhythms went straight through my ears to my toes and the bouncing began. Guitars and other, unknown, instruments step in, carried by guys in bright colors. Next, came the women dancing, waving, smiling big time and shaking everything they had. Not only were there about twenty players, but it was loud and complicated, with the bass of the drums and the bass guitar thudding in my chest.
Finally, King Sunny takes the stage, playing his guitar. He has a presence and he can really play. He’s got a hat on his head that could have been a crown. After all, he really is a King and all the players are his subjects. His tribe. His family.
Eje Nlo Gba Ara Mi
The music is hot in a way I’ve never experienced. So much is going on – the individual playing and the dancing – everyone is dancing! It’s the ultimate funky marching band, but they’re not marching, they’re dancing. I’m hoping they’ll play the full twelve hours, but know better.
This is stimulation like no other. Visually, these guys are wild. Sonically, they’re overpowering. Musically, though from the other side of the globe, they’ve taken us over.
There are no chairs, but who could sit at a time like this. Our arms are waving in the air. Our feet have a mind of their own. We’re screaming, but no one can hear us. This is the best show ever. It has to be! I’ve never heard or seen anything like it!