KALIMBAS AT WORK
WORLD MUSIC (Africa)
Kalimbas at Work embraces audiences with magical interlocking melodies, lively African rhythms, and heartfelt lyrics. Deeply rooted in the traditions of Cameroon, the quartet features the kalimba (African thumb piano) in unique configurations you won’t find anywhere else. Kalimbas At Work includes Njacko Backo – one of Canada’s most well-known world music ambassadors, and Chip Yarwood – a multi-instrumentalist known as the dynamic flutist with The Garfield Band, the founder of Mother Tongue, and lifetime member of Kalimba Kalimba. The ensemble also features Valery Woloshyn (kalimba) and Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo (percussion). Original compositions feature kalimbas and blend in ngoni (African harp), flute, mandolin, banjo, and a variety of African and other country specific percussion instruments.
Njacko Backo is a percussionist, singer, storyteller, choreographer, songwriter/composer who has been performing for children and adults since his childhood in Cameroon. He has a lifetime of practice in capturing the subtlety of dance and storytelling with his music – an essential part of the African performing arts. He creates joyful African-influenced “world music” that instantly evokes images of sun-drenched music festivals, ecstatically-dancing crowds and the spirit of peace, love and social harmony found within. Visit his website and read the story of this exceptional and loving human being who believes so strongly in the strength of community and humanity.
ACOUSTIC ROOTS (UK)
Variously described as one of the UK’s most unique and versatile guitarists, Steve Payne is also feted as a talented and non-predictable singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, wordsmith and story-teller whose compositions cross the musical boundaries from Blues to Folk to Contemporary Roots. By 1976, he was touring Europe with Loudon Wainwright III, and also found time to team up with comedian Jasper Carrott on his memorable Funky Moped tour. He featured with various other artists of the time, recording with Rosie Hardman on the Eagle Over Blue Mountain album in 1978, which was produced by Steeleye Span’s Nigel Pegrum.
The early eighties saw the birth of the Paynekillers, a band which evolved into the longstanding regional rock & blues favourite, The Parole Brothers. Their debut album, “When’s your album coming out?” found favourable reviews. During this time Payne continued to work with other artists, most notably Dr John and blues legend B.B. King.
In 1986, he moved to L.A. and played on the West Coast scene for three years, before returning to the U.K. to form The Candy Run. The band’s debut album of the same name took three years to complete, punctuated by Payne’s return visit to L.A.
Back in the UK in 1989, he teamed up with well-known musician Steve Tilston and together they played Glastonbury Festival and recorded the album, “In For a Penny, In For a Pound”. Candy Run toured for a year or so, before Steve began working with harmonica afficionado Keith Warmington.
They played Glastonbury Festival in 1993 and a new band – Payne and Friends – took shape soon afterwards, touring Europe through 1994. This year also saw Steve begin to move more heavily into slide guitar and jazz styles, teaming up with fellow (unrelated!) guitarist Rick Payne. The two played together regularly over the next couple of years, a period that also saw Steve’s first collaborations with blues singer/songwriter Maggie Thomas.
They recorded one acoustic album at the Hope Centre in Bristol – aptly named “Hope”, and carried out a successful, televised tour of America’s East Coast in 1998. During this period, Payne returned to Toronto where he built a following, appearing with Paul Brady in 1997.
Steve began to focus more on his Roots leanings in the late nineties, leaving the electric side of his music alone, and releasing a succession of acoustic albums. “Six” was released in 2000, followed by “The Kiss” a year later, and “Outlines” in October 2002.
With a long list of festival and club appearances not only in the UK, but also regularly in mainland Europe and North America, a musical life’s worth of troubadour globe-trotting has resulted in Steve perfecting his particular succinct, and at times very tongue-in-cheek, live ‘in concert’ experience.
Michael Pickett is a multiple award-winning artist whose lengthy career has included extensive recording, film, radio, and television credits. In the 70s, 80s, and 90s he established himself as a musically ground-breaking, electrifying singer/songwriter/ harmonica player, [Whiskey Howl, Wooden Teeth, Michael Pickett Band]. Surrounding himself with some of the top musicians in the country, he toured North America and Europe. He has received two JUNO nominations, the Canadian Independent Music Award, the coveted Maple Blues Blues With a Feeling Award and many others for best harmonica and best blues albums. His reputation as a powerhouse of solo acoustic roots music extends throughout North America, the UK, and Europe eliciting standing ovations in prestigious venues such as Toronto’s Massey Hall, Olympia’s Washington Center for the Performing Arts and Spain’s Teatro Marbella. He performs in Blues, Folk, Jazz clubs, coffee houses, house concerts, theatres, festivals, not to mention his remarkable contribution to that specialized world of harmonica / guitar / songwriter workshops! Pickett has shared the stage with luminaries such as Big Mama Thornton, John Lee Hooker, James Cotton, Jeff Healey, Bo Diddley, Koko Taylor, Tom Rush, Taj Mahal, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, and many more. An international troubadour with a social conscience, Pickett creates material that is powerfully evocative and visual. His performances take his audiences to another world and another time.
Pickett currently co-produces the annual event ‘CONCERT FOR PEACE’ with his wife, Louise, at their home in Crystal Beach, ON, CANADA.
Mike Branton made a name for himself as a young guitar prodigy in the Southern Ontario region evolving into a triple threat: inventive improvisational soloist, original singer and songwriter. Part of any musician’s education is backing up other people. Branton has been featured by, played with, shared the stage, recorded with and just plain jammed with a who’s who of Canadian and American blues musicians including Jeff Healey, Michael Pickett, George “Wildchild” Butler, Chicago Pete, Pat Ramsey, Richard Newell aka “King Biscuit Boy”, David Clayton Thomas, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Lee Oskar, Jordan John, Steve Marriner & Matt Sobb (Monkeyjunk), Amos Garrett, Michael Fonfara (Electric Flag) and long time boss Stu Heydon. This is a man in love with the blues. It was his first musical passion and one that has remained in full bloom over the years.