Syracuse, are you ready for music that will intrigue your mind, soothe your soul and get you hyped and dancing? Music that stretches the globe in influence and is half-born of a Syracuse native? Music sparked from the collaboration of a local hero turned international performer, and an acclaimed master from a far off land? Then you are ready for Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate. Following an incendiary local performance at the Grassroots Festival in Ithaca, NY, Joe and Sekou are sure to bring a dedicated Syracuse fan base and many new followers to the Westcott Theater on Aug. 22.
Faya, Joe Driscoll and Sekou Kouyate’s debut album and the impetus for the current international tour, is appropriately titled. Throughout most of the album, Joe lays down funky or reggae-based guitar chords while Sekou’s insanely beautiful and rapid kora riffs lick the rhythm like flames. For those of you who have never heard a kora, you are in for a treat. The kora is a West African instrument that plays like a super-fast yet elegant harp. Sekou, a native of the West African country of Guinea, is no average kora player either- he is a master in all senses of the word. He is recognized throughout African music circles as a phenomenon, and known in France as the “Jimi Hendrix of the kora,” for his intensity, flowing virtuosity and innovative use of effects. Joe’s recent years of successful recording and touring as a solo act throughout Europe and the U.S. have polished his skills as a musician and solidified his sound, thereby enabling synthesis of different languages and musical styles. Joe’s unique take on hip-hop, funk, and reggae ties seamlessly into his exploration of exotic Afrobeat and traditional West African grooves.
Joe and Sekou share vocals throughout the album, which is a testament to both musician’s adaptability. Joe’s characteristic and insightful (English) hip-hop lyrics are broken up by full verses (sung by both) in French. When Sekou met Joe at the Nuit Metis (Mixed Night) Festival in Marseille France, neither of them spoke much of each other’s language; and yet, they were able to construct (in one week) an innovative and highly entertaining musical project that is most definitely hot like Faya.
Come out to the Westcott Theater on August 26th at 9pm and experience a new take on an old favorite and a cultural coalition that is sure to burn down the house.