Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Carter's Chord

Carter’s Chord is the “just-uncovered gem” of the cross-over country music scene, and is rapidly garnering a loyal fan base. When we heard their music (southern rock, blues, and Outlaw country) and had a solid sense of their credibility—as evidenced through Toby Keith’s backing—we knew this was a real opportunity. We booked them immediately, with every belief that they’ll be huge by this time next year. They’re touring with Toby this summer, so their exposure will go through the roof.

Their sound is really interesting, in that while it’s definitely country, it reflects influences by the Counting Crows, Emmylou Harris, Marc Cohn, and the Black Crows. You can actually hear the added edge. I mean, these are three sisters in their early twenties, ready to set the world on fire, and their energy really comes through in their music. Even our marketing director, a self-admittedly lukewarm country fan, is excited about this act—she says it isn’t “too twangy.” Regardless, we believe they have a very bright future; we hope we can say “We knew them when…”
—Alan Jenkins, Founder

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Step Afrika!

I don't know when I've been as excited about an event as I am about Step Afrika! This professional step dancing company from Washington, D.C., will present 2 concerts and 2 master classes at Merrimack Hall April 4 and 5.

My first exerience with seeing a performance of African dance was back in 1995 at Panoply and I found it to be one of the most moving experiences I've ever had. The African drums, the beautiful tribal costumes, the ritual dances are all so compelling and inspriational to me. It is fascinating to hear the dancers explain the meaning behind their movements and the occassions when a particular dance or drum cadence was used - to signal that the enemy is coming; to ask the gods for rain; to celebrate the harvest; to rejoice in a birth or mourn a death.

When I think about these ancient rituals and traditions, it makes me realize that from the moment humans came into existence, they have had a primal urge to express themselves through music, dance and art. What makes Step Afrika! so unique as a dance company is that they combine the ancient tribal dances with newer forms of African dance, like stepping. When they perform their step numbers wearing the gumshoe boots, which were worn by the workers in the diamond mines of South Africa during apartheid, and explain what the percussions of their feet mean, you realize that when people are oppressed and not even allowed the right to speak, they will still find a way to communicate. For those mine workers, communication was through stomping, clapping and dancing.

I know that I will leave the Step Afrika! performances with a renewed awe at the power of music and dance!