Summer Stars: Toubab Krewe
“Festivals have such an accepting music crowd, so we definitely have used those stages as an opportunity to branch out,” says Toubab Krewe’s percussionist Luke Quaranta.
The Asheville, N.C.-based band formed in 2005 and pioneered a sound that is rooted in West African music, as heard in their bright folk guitar lines and energetic drumming. They have traveled to Guinea, Ivory Coast and Mali, studying the region’s instruments and musical history. Toubab takes this education and expands on it, bringing in the jam sensibilities of Western rock music.
The quintet (Quaranta, Justin Perkins, Vic Stafford, Drew Heller and David Pransky) has performed at festivals like Bonnaroo, Wakarusa, Electric Forest and High Sierra. This summer, Toubab will premiere new material and revive older tunes at Gathering of the Vibes in Connecticut and Peach Music Festival in Pennsylvania.
“We have been working on a bunch of tunes that we haven’t played in a long time, so we’re going to reach back and play some of the repertoire that we’ve moved away from,” says Quaranta. “That’ll be cool to see how that material changes once we move back into it. You can expect more vocals. We’ve been singing a lot more tunes and we’ve been playing some covers.”
Furthermore, what they are calling the “Toubab Krewe Orchestra” will bring a few guests to the stage during festival sets. Quaranta predicts it will be an “extended ensemble,” “a spectacular” with “a lot of different solos and a bigger sound with horns and other instrumentation.”
“We’ve let ourselves open up—to a degree—to different influences,” he says of how the band has grown throughout the years. “We started out in the West African traditional side of things. That was our foundation. But we’ve branched out and a lot of different aspects have come into play—old-time music, Appalachian music and a lot of rock and roll. We definitely evolved quite a bit since we started the band.”
Favorite summertime food: Grilled fish
Best album for a warm summer night: Toumani Diabate, Symmetric Orchestra
Favorite summer vacation location: Ocracoke Island, N.C.
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