The cool guitar licks and hot Dogon percussion rhythms of Amadou & Mariam create an ideal dance atmosphere: it is impossible to stay still under their influence, which resonates into the soul. The primal layering of sound, rhythm and vibration that is key to Afro-blues is only accentuated by technology. The broad resonance of rock guitar blends more naturally with skin-covered drums than an acoustic would do. There was a compelling, open-throated wail of voices, keeping up a chant to match the pace of the band. Occasionally the voices broke into harmony, but it was different than a choral sound – it was more similar to the way the drums would break into a roll, syncopation, or a quick hemiola.
The sheer volume of drums was exciting. Gallagher Hill shook with their beats at the opening night of the 2012 Edmonton Folk Music Festival. No one could resist, especially in songs that tore up the night for ten minutes at a time. The whole crowd was on its feet, cruising to the sweet sounds.
In every song, Amadou & Mariam teased us, lulled us into thinking they were cooling down, then kicked it up again with a brand new style. Not even my sprained ankle could keep off the dance floor. If this is any sign of what’s coming, it’s going to be a hot weekend. The festival is sold out but some tickets are available at the door. Because lets face it – being outside the fence will not be satisfying enough.