Concert Review: Toubab Krewe (July 11, 2015)

July 25, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

ARTIST:  Toubab Krewe

VENUE:  New Mountain AVL - Asheville, NC

DATE:  July 11, 2015

Review By:  Hannah Bober

Photos By:  David J. Simchock

Toubab Krewe 2015-07-11 (Asheville, NC)Toubab Krewe 2015-07-11 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David J. Simchock It is the ten-year anniversary of the release of Toubab Krewe's first album, and the band celebrated in a tremendous way:  coming home to Asheville to play the indoor stage at New Mountain Amphitheater.  The band's illustrious career has thus far taken them not only to multiple musical festivals around the United States, but has also been the driving force in their travels throughout the world.  Nevertheless, I admittedly wasn't all that familiar with Toubab Krewe, and didn't really know what to expect going into the show.  I also couldn't remember how long it had been since I'd hit up a concert that was purely instrumental.  It did not take long before I realized I had been missing out considerably in both.


It's no wonder there was such an enthusiastic turnout of loyal followers at the venue.  World travelers David Pransky (bass, guitar), Drew Heller (guitar, piano, fiddle), Justin Perkins (Kora, Kamelngoni, guitar, percussion), Luke Quaranta (Djembe, Congas, percussion), and Terrence Houston (drums) represent cultural backgrounds that have much to express.  Native to Asheville and true to their roots, the group combines the homegrown style of the South with West African tradition, while incorporating various other influences.  Their beats are infectious and exotic, with a warm familiarity that quickly draws you in.


What had me hooked right from the start was the fact that although I couldn't get enough of the fantastic sound the band produced, I wasn't able to name more than a couple of the strings they were hitting, and I immediately wanted to learn more.  In proper Asheville design, there were a few times when my inquisitive expression was noticed by friendly fellow concertgoers, who would graciously take the time to try and explain above the music level the instruments that were foreign to me.  Although I couldn't hear their confident pronunciations or really even discern what they were trying to say, I was impressed by the amount of people who seemed to have a working knowledge of the mesmerizing musical tools being expertly played onstage.  It was clear that while I may have just been tuning in to the groove happening in front of me, I was surrounded by many veteran Krewe fans who knew what to expect and couldn't be more ready or thrilled.

Toubab Krewe 2015-07-11 (Asheville, NC)Toubab Krewe 2015-07-11 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David J. Simchock

The band's laid-back nature created a friendly, energizing atmosphere as they played further into their set.  Being in the relatively cozy, indoor space at New Mountain offered benefits not found in a less intimate venue, one of which was being able to see up close the contrast between the steady background beat and the animated one up front.  As the bass got very heavy in unison with the fast tempo of its front-stage counterpart, I noted how easily the group continued to play their instruments as they walked around the stage, smiling, laughing and switching places with one another.  At one point the guitar let up, giving the stage over to percussion in a way that seemed to invite the audience to take a breather and reset their rhythm.  It wasn't long though, before the guitar jumped back in and the venue was pumped right back up for the ride.


Toubab Krewe 2015-07-11 (Asheville, NC)Toubab Krewe 2015-07-11 (Asheville, NC)© Copyright David J. Simchock "We were born and raised here...our roots are deep here," was the heartfelt proclamation that gave some context and insight into Toubab Krewe's uniquely grassroots Southern yet global style.  They went on to acknowledge their musical influences, which include those of Western Africa, reggae, rock, bluegrass, and traditional Appalachian.  The variation in strings and percussion brought me everywhere from Celtic Ireland to West Africa to a 1960s rock concert, before swinging back into downtown Asheville on a Saturday night.  Considering that on this particular Saturday night at New Mountain I was standing in the only one of those places that I have actually been, the spirit of Krewe's devoted fans struck a chord with me.  Whether you dig the Appalachian Mountains or the Rockies, or anywhere outside or in between, Toubab Krewe will transport you across oceans and eras without ever leaving your own backyard.




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