Senegalese master Baaba Maal threw down something heavy at SummerStage on Monday, June 14. Playing For Change opened. Baaba was accompanied by his band Dande Lenol featuring long time talking drum companion Masamba Diop and was joined later in the set by Somi and practically half the audience at the end.
When Baaba took the stage I was close enough to smell him: incense, smoke, earth and roasted meat - other worldly. It was a high energy set from start to finish and the title song of his new album, Television, sounded amazing. Baaba periodically pointed his mic at his drummers and singers, bequeathing the royal power of his presence. The first time Masamba went to stand on the railing of the photo pit, he saw me climbing up to take a photo and grabbed my shoulder as ballast. At the peak moment of the show, crumpled singles, fives and tens flew over the pit to the stage - any that fell below we dutifully delivered to the rightful recipients.
Please enjoy the slide show. If you are with media and are looking for images, please contact me. Click on any image to go directly to my archive.