King Sunny Ade’s concert this week in S.B. should get the good times rollin’. Here’s why you should take part:
1) It’s Soul-stice: Nothing says summer like returning to the root of all soul, which is the original African beat. King Sunny Ade leads the longest-running, most complete, and absolutely swinging big funk band in the world. Fans of James Brown will find his “get up, get into it” spirit is alive and well in this guitar- and drum-driven orchestra, and devotees of Bob Marley will hear the African version of reggae’s righteous call to brotherhood, peace, and understanding. Use Thursday night’s concert as the perfect jumping-off point for your extended Solstice weekend.
2) They Jam: Guitar duties in the African Beats are shared by as many as six very skillful electric guitarists, and the result is a panoply of extraordinary runs, fills, riffs, and solos. Very few groups anywhere can rival this powerhouse of improvisation. Listening to such classic tracks as “Ja Funmi,” “Synchro System,” and “Suku Suku Bam Bam” is an education in the fantastic, seemingly unlimited imaginative potential of the jam. Just take it from Phish frontman Trey Anastasio, who said, “You know if you go see King Sunny Ade, you are going to dance all night long.”
3) He Accepts Singles: Ade is known for his skill in praise-singing, a Nigerian tradition that involves adapting the lyrics to flatter those in the immediate audience. The traditional response to being mentioned from the stage by Ade is called “spraying” and involves pasting dollar bills to the sweaty forehead of the singer. If you hear your name mentioned, or you feel that the singer is responding to you personally, you can go right up to the stage, stick a dollar bill to his noggin’, and expect to hear yet another verse about how cool you are. Try getting Gwen Stefani to do that for you with any denomination of dead pres, never mind a lowly George Washington.
4) He’ll Blow the Roof off the Lobero: Ask anyone who was at the Derek Trucks Band show just a month ago-our town’s most comfortable, intimate venue has optimal acoustics for this kind of sophisticated electric music. It’s not too soft, it’s not too loud, and, when the band is tight and the mood is right, it will take you out of yourself and into the musical equivalent of hyperspace. Set the controls for the heart of the sun!
King Sunny Ade and His African Beats are at the Lobero Theatre on Thursday, June 18, at 8 p.m. For tickets and information, call 963-0761 or visit lobero.com.