Ferro Gaita and Sean Ardoin in New York City

 

Kreole music was in the spotlight recently as Ferro Gaita from Cape Verde and Sean Ardoin of Southwestern Louisiana passed through New York City within days of each other.

Ferro Gaita at SOBs

Ferro Gaita at SOBs

DJ MD spun a set of vintage satndards at SOBs prior to Ferro Gaita taking the stage. Creating a mood that evoked home to many in the club, a festive audience of Cape Verdeans drawn to the soho club for the rare appearance. While Morna, the songs of longing and seperation, may be the sound most associated with Cape Verde, Ferro Gaita’s music brings people together. The funana and batuka rhythms at the core of the music evoked a carnival-like spontaneity on the dancefloor. It is roots music, associated with freedom as gathering to play the music was banned during colonial days.

Brian Worick Jr left, guitar, Sean Ardoin, accordion and Sean Ardoin 2nd on frottoir (rubboard) at Elebash Hall

Brian Worick Jr left, guitar, Sean Ardoin, accordion and Sean Ardoin 2nd on frottoir (rubboard) at Elebash Hall

Sean Ardoin’s appearance at the Elebash Concert hall in midtown Manhattan was a celebration, marking his 20th year as an solo artist. He opened by reaching back for a song that had been in his family for generations, before inviting his band on stage and launching into a rollicking version of Pulling, title track of his 2001 release and opening track of current release Ven.

Sean Ardoin and Kreole Rock and Soul at Elebash Hall, NYC, September 27th 2019. (L-R) Davis Whitfied, keys; Brian Worick Jr, guitar; Sean Ardoin, accordion; Mitchell Hayes, drums; audience member, rubboard; Austin O'Carroll, bass; and Sean Ardoin 2nd, rubboard.

Sean Ardoin and Kreole Rock and Soul at Elebash Hall, NYC, September 27th 2019. (L-R) Davis Whitfied, keys; Brian Worick Jr, guitar; Sean Ardoin, accordion; Mitchell Hayes, drums; audience member, rubboard; Austin O'Carroll, bass; and Sean Ardoin 2nd, rubboard.

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Ferro Gaita made a rare New York City appearance, to an ecstatic audience at SOBs. Perhaps the foremost roots band from the island of Santiago. Their music they play is based in rural rhythms funana and batuka, significant because it was banned during colonial rule. Iduina, accordion player and co leader says “this music connected to them, it is very nationalist this is the traditional music of that identifies the country, this is our roots.”

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Ferro Gaita’s music is funana fast slow and funana samba, batuka, tabankaas well as rhythms of neighboring islands Fo and San Vincent. They are mostly original compositions with elements contributed by other bandmembers. Iduina picked up the accordion from his father and godfather who both played the instrument. After playing trumpet in the military band and in a band that played reggae and other music he decided to form Ferro Gaita, 23 years ago. 

 
DJ MD, Marcy Depina mixing Cape Verdean standards at SOBs prior to the Ferro Gaita set

DJ MD, Marcy Depina mixing Cape Verdean standards at SOBs prior to the Ferro Gaita set

Sean came on stage solo to open the show with two solo accordion songs, Amédé Two Step and Les Barres des Prison, paying an understated homage to his roots. Both songs have been in his family for generations. Joined by his band, the audience next heard the fanfare intro to Pullin, with the vocal line “i came through the door pullin” rising above the rumble. The energy coming from the stage was like a smack in the face, particularly for those not familiar with the music (Ardoin hadn’t performed in the city for several years). Pullin is title track of his 2001 album and opening track to the just released Ven.  The music builds on the original, the drumming in particular driving the music with a rock and roll energy without altering the original drum pattern or cymbal signifyers. Keyboards add a layer underlying the interaction between the accordion and rubboard. Ardoin added a bridge and rap lyrics to infuse the zydeco classic with his current vein of creativity, Kreole Rock and Soul. 

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Kreole Rock and Soul more accurately describes the current sound and where it came from but is being pushed in new directions or as Ardoin told us  before the show “You are coming to see me not a genre”. The pace slowed only once, harkening back to the Fame studios era of soul music when Ardoin coaxed the extraordinary vocalist Melonie Daniels from the audience. She sang Tennessee Whsikey a song originally recorded by the country artist David Allan Coe but more recently revived by Chris Stapleton.