Inside Midsummer Night Swing: Femi Kuti with Sahr Ngaujah and Jill Vallery of FELA!

Field Report: Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing with Femi Kuti & Positive Force, Sahr Ngaujah and Jill Vallery of FELA! 7/12/2010.

Lincoln Center's Midsummer Night Swing wrapped up their 22nd season this month, bringing together the intertwined cultures of music and dance in a highly diverse series that covered swing, salsa, tango, bhangra and disco.  If you haven't been to Midsummer Night Swing before, the evening begins with a dance lesson on the dedicated dance floor, moves into a DJ set and ends with a performance by an artists associated with the style of the evening.

I created this multimedia piece combining photography and field audio to bring you inside the experience:

Building on the success of FELA! on Braodway and the heightened awareness for the music of Afrobeat godfather Fela Kuti, Lincoln Center put together a wonderful show with Fela's son, Femi Kuti and his band Positive Force. Jill Vallery, dance captain and cast member if FELA! began the dance instruction, teaching 8-bar sequences of Afrobeat moves.  Amayo, frontman of New York's own Antibalas was there to assist. Sahr Ngaujah, the star of FELA! continued the lesson with his break-down of the 'underground spiritual game', showing how to shake the hips in coded patterns. As the evening started to warm up, Sahr and friends came down to the dance floor, and soon FELA! cast members and audience alike were dancing together and trading moves in the middle of a large enraptured circle.  Rich Medina was on hand to provide the music.

Femi Kuti & Positive Force took the stage with dancers, a large horn section and rhythm section for an extended set. Femi has his own unique style, it is brighter, slightly more frantic and improvisatory. But at the core he is his father's inheritor, bringing political critique and positive messages and leading the ensemble while moving between singing, keyboard, alto sax and trumpet.

Also in recent African Music News:

Fela's original drummer, Tony Allen played (le) Poisson Rouge (photos)

Baaba Maal played SummerStage (photos)

Floyd Arthur Dakil - 1945-2010

©Jacob Blickenstaff, 2009

The great Texas born guitarist Floyd Dakil sadly passed away this week at the age of 65. He was scheduled to play the Ponderosa Stomp this fall in New Orleans.  I met and photographed him at the Stomp's SXSW Showcase at the Continental Club in 2009.  I had no idea what a 'Floyd Dakil' might even look like until I figured out the cleanly dressed man in the orange jacket was him.  I approached him outside and asked if I could make a quick portrait and we moved a few feet over to a painted wall near the back stage exit.  Later I saw him tuning his guitar by the light of the pool table lamp backstage and just asked him to look up from there. He gave me his business card for his company "FDI Financial Corp." and I sent him some prints when I got back to NYC.

you can click on the gallery below to go to my image galleries and archive:

His best known recording was "Dance Franny Dance" as the Floyd Dakil Combo, which was amazingly recorded live at the Pit Club in Dallas, TX and released on the Jetstar label and later included on the Pebbles vol. 1 garage rock compilation.

There is some good information at the Garage Hangover blog about him...