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Oyoyo spreads the traditional sounds of West Africa to new audiences.

African Drums Beat

As more people awaken to world music, transplanted artists from around the globe find ways to share their cultures locally. Two African groups will do just that when they perform this weekend.

West Africa has always been a source of music and dance, and Boulder's two-year-old Bantaba World Dance & Music studio will showcase performers from Senegal, Mali, Ghana and elsewhere as part of West African Nights. This Friday, Senegalese griot Boubacar Diebate and his group, Dialy Kounda, along with other guests, will demonstrate dance and various forms of traditional African drumming. "We start a little like a class first, to show the basics," says Bantaba director Jenny Gill. It will be a way of "getting people out of their regular ideas" about African culture, he adds, and show them the rich traditional textures from that continent.

For exactly those reasons, Emei Ezidinma began his Denver-based African Awareness Expos ten years ago. As part of that effort, Ezidinma -- a Nigerian-born businessman -- performs with his band Oyoyo ("beautiful" in Ibo). The five-member group, which plays in Parker on Saturday, strives to educate and entertain, playing handmade instruments that have been used by Nigerians for years: talking drums, gongs and thumb pianos that weave a fabric of sounds. "This is the type of traditional music people get together and play," Ezidinma says. "Sometimes there is improvisation, so you can come up with personal expressions that is something that is you." So not only will Oyoyo's members instruct the audience in the history of their instruments, but they will also pass them around so that everyone can try their hand.

If you can beat 'em, join 'em.


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