Pan-African music festival starts Wednesday, Aug. 6

Minneapolis-based Ghanian artist M.anifest plays outside the Nomad World Pub on Saturday as part of a free day of music during the six-day Pan-African Music Festival.

Photo by Courtesy of DEMO

Cedar-Riverside to host opening night, day of music

On Wednesday, Aug. 6, the Diverse Emerging Music Organization (DEMO) and a host of sponsors kick off the first annual Twin Cities Pan-African Festival in venues throughout Minneapolis, including an opening-night concert at The Cedar and a day of free live music at the Nomad World Pub. The festival brings together local and global talent, with a blend of Afro-beat, hip-hop and acoustic music; as well as visual art, documentary films and more. International emcee K’Naan from Mogadishu, Somalia will close the festival Aug. 11 with a performance at First Avenue.

Created in 1999, DEMO is a local nonprofit organization designed to promote and increase awareness of a range of emerging musicians, according to DEMO founder and longtime First Avenue Manager Steve McClellan. Projects have ranged from larger-venue, national bookings to weekly series — like the ongoing Lo-fi Thursdays at Acadia Café, 329 Cedar Ave. — that give developing bands the chance to get some stage time.

The Pan-African Festival reflects the values of the organization, according to McClellan. The festival not only promotes new artists, it breaks down cultural barriers by placing the spotlight on a music scene that otherwise gets overshadowed by Minneapolis’ tradition of guitar bands. “If you look at the main bulk of your music coverage, it’s white punk rock and alt-rock,” said McClellan. “But some of your best festivals are the ones where acts overlap [in terms of culture and genre]. You have to stick out your neck, but it’s better to take the risk.”

One of the DEMO’s goals is to employ music as a mode of common ground between the diverse communities of Minneapolis. “I want to see DEMO focus on the more social quality of music,” he said, “to have music be a means of having people mix.

“I’ve always though music is a better means of communication, and in this market it’s surprising how far behind we really are,” McClellan said. “I always thought we should get more involved in causes that would matter to all ethnic groups.”

Festival co-producer Rachel Joyce, who chairs the DEMO board of directors, said the support of local musicians and businesses has been gratifying. “The level of generous, true-spirited collaboration that has made this festival possible has been an up-lifting process to be a part of,” she said. When asked which event she looked forward to most, the co-host of KFAI’s “Shake & Bake” world music program demurred, saying, “I’m not a mother, but I imagine it would be a lot like choosing between your children.”

McClellan, meanwhile, expressed particular excitement over the return of Tony Brown to the Twin Cities, whom he referred to as “the grand-dad of reggae musicians in this area.”
While DEMO did play a role in organizing last year’s Afro-fest, a similarly themed festival, the Twin Cities Pan-African Festival is a new and separate event. “As far as we know right now, this is the first of many Pan-African Festivals to come,” said McClellan.

Pan-African Festival, Aug. 6–11

Mali’s Habib Koité and his band, Bamada
Wednesday, Aug. 6, 7:30 p.m.
Cedar Cultural Center
416 Cedar Ave. S.
Habib Koité is an acoustic guitarist and singer from Mali who integrates Western folk and rock with Malian instruments and socio-topical lyrics. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Call the Cedar Ticketline at 612-338-2674 ext. 2.

Gallery Grooves at Altered Esthetics
Thursday, Aug. 7. 7–9 p.m.
1223 Quincy St. NE
The evening features the international group show The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, as well as live music and over 100 works of art from 50 local and national artists. Admission is free.

An Afro-Caribbean experience
Friday, Aug. 8. 9 p.m.
La Bodega Tapas Lounge
3005 Lyndale Ave. S.
DJs Xpect and Hustla will spin African and Caribbean music in two rooms. Admission is $10.

A day of free music
Saturday, Aug. 9, 3 p.m.–2 a.m.
Nomad World Pub
519 Cedar Ave. S.
(all ages at the outdoor stage,
21+ inside the Nomad)
A lineup of Afro-beat, hip-hop and reggae artists will perform on an outdoor stage adjacent to the Nomad World Pub, with a set of acoustic acts scheduled to play inside. Performers will include Minneapolis-based Ghanian artist M.anifest, Yawo and his Afro-beat band from Togo, Zhalman Harris (a.k.a Z-Plus) from Liberia, Liberian R& B artist Munnah Myers, Diaspora, F.A., and Tony Brown with his band The 608 Rhythm Section. Also featured will be KUT Dance, a Twin Cities dance team integrating styles from the East African region with hip-hop and reggae. All ages; Admission is free.

Directly following the day of outdoor music, a 21-and-over after party begins at 10 p.m., with a variety of reggae and hip-hop acts inside on the Nomad stage. Lineup features Gideon Soldier’s Sound at 10 p.m., Waltah PPK at 11 p.m., Verb X at 11:45 p.m., Afrobeat, Motown and Latin fusion artist Maria Isa at midnight. Verb X and Pee Wee Dred will join Isa to close the show at 12:45 a.m. Admission for this event is free.

African music documentary films
Sunday, Aug. 10
The Parkway Theater
4814 Chicago Ave.
Three documentary films begin at 5:45 p.m. Hip-Hop Colony, which focuses on the firmly established hip-hop scene in Kenya, will be shown first, followed by Music Is the Weapon, a profile of Nigerian musician, composer and human rights activist Fela Kuti at 7 p.m. Africa Unite, a humanitarian documentary focusing on the travels of Bob Marley and his family begins at 8:15 p.m. Music is the Weapon is free; the other two shows cost $5.

A Pan-African Festival escapade
Sunday, Aug. 10, 10 p.m.
The Lounge
411 2nd Ave. N.
DJ Hustla will present a night of hip-hop and dancehall music. Tickets cost $5.

Monday, Aug. 11, doors at 7 p.m.
First Avenue Main Room
701 First Ave. N.
Somali MC and spoken word poet K’Naan represents a new sound and direction in hip-hop music, according to his festival bio. His unique and socially conscious approach to the genre has been making its mark in music scenes across the cultural and geographical divide. 18+; Tickets cost $16 in advance and $20 at the door.

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last revised: August 25, 2008