As anyone who knows me knows, The Wild Bean is my home away from home, my respite in the face of power outages (sorry for my despicable behavior during the derecho; I had been driven mad by the silence!), my morning revival from a wretched dearth of caffeine, feeding my dependency with the always delightful Swift Kick, and so it just completes me when there is music added to the mix to top off my gratification for a place I love. And so I settled in last weekend to enjoy a free concert by the Oakland, California-based band called ANTIOQUIA (pronounced an-tee-OH-kee-ah, just to clear things up), a name that originated in Columbia, representing a town where the blending of the old and the new somehow grew out of Columbian folkloric music. Sitting in my favorite easy chair in the Bean, watching loved ones and the children of loved ones dance in the toddler mosh-pit, I began to take notes about their style and influences. It was hard to categorize, but I enjoyed them.
Having observed them for several minutes before they started their first set, I was taken by the differences in preparation by the band members, some meditating peacefully, some schmoozing with townies, some playing intriguing percussion in the green space to lure folks, Pied Piper-like, to the venue, wanting more. And just as diverse was the meshing and interlocking of their influences and styles. A minor interview with members of the band brought a bit of info as to where they had been and where they were heading. Having recently played at Floydfest, a great festival in Virginia , where I’m sure they rocked the hillsides far and wide, they were invited by CultureFest’s originator, Lori McKinney of Option 22 to join them for their festival, held annually at the Southern Appalachian Folklife Center near Pipestem , WV , my old stomping grounds from years past. And so, a fortuitous pitstop at the Bean ensued. I know I’m not a twenty-something anymore, but I was amused by the bass player gently warning me that “it might get loud”, as if I was his granny and it might make it hard for me to knit or something. Not my first gig review, sonny…
The most prominent aspect of their music was, of course, the rhythm they brought with them from travels through South America and West Africa , weaving through their originality with a psychedelic periphery. They all sing and play percussion, and have released three studio albums and toured all over the United States . The line-up is Adley Penner on guitar, Craig Miller on drum kit, Paul Martin on bass, Rachel Antony-Levine on keyboard and lead vocals, and guitarist Tomas Salcedo. A fine ensemble it was. Their various and sundry backgrounds are the key to their disparate but well-merged sound and style. From early influences of Van Halen and Primus (I thought so!) to Indie to Joan Osborne, Megadeth , rock, funk, hip-hop, you name it. The only influences I didn’t pick up on were possibly Bebop and Tuvan throat-singing, though it wouldn’t have surprised me.
The sounds I heard emanating from the stage, and from the dance floor as they came out into the audience dancing, singing , and drumming, were at times reminiscent of almost Caribbean reverberation, to Allman Brothers twinning, to the twangy mechanical machinery that reminded me of The Chickasaw Mud-puppies from long past to Les Claypool-esque funky bass lines and wacka-wacka grooves, threaded with pulsing cadences of African and South American inspirations.
The contrasting locales the band members grew out of could have done nothing but add to their conglomerated miscellany of method and style. One member is from British Columbia, others are from Wisconsin . Alabama, Columbus, Ohio, and ANIOQUIA has one member who was born in New Jersey but raised in Santiago, Chile (how does that happen?), who then wound up in Ghana to study music, where he learned about the manufacture of traditional African percussion instruments.
So this band is a melting pot. I can absolutely see them completely spell-binding their audience on some festival hillside somewhere, their element, their homeland of musical appeal. They were first-rate, and their singer Rachel had a great stage presence, but the band, en masse, was at one with who they were. From tip to toe. (Pretty hip jargon, eh, kids?)
Though most of their upcoming shows are far away from our little burg, you can still catch their schedule, press information, bio, and hear their music on www.antioquia-band.com. Check them out. Try to nail them down. Analyze their sound. Get on their mailing list. Raise your mugs to a Swift Kick toast. To diversity.
– Susanna Robinson-Kenga, LBSPY #16