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The Dartmouth
February 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

WMPE, Barbary Coast explore rhythms: Luther 'Guitar Junior' Johnson, Defunkt appear as special guests

The highlights of the weekend were the two musical performances at Spaulding Auditorium by the World Music Percussion Ensemble and The Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble.

It began on Friday with the WMPE performance, directed by Hafiz Shabazz.

There were over 20 drummers who performed and played various types of African drums. The drumming sounds produced beautiful rhythms and melodies that roused the crowd and led many to tap their feet.

One song entitled, "Coming of Age" (translated from the original Senegalese title) was explained by Shabazz as a blues tune that described how Sengelese girls become women in their culture.

Another tune, "Fresh Water Among Salty" is related to the tragic story of how a fresh water river near Ghana was polluted and "turned salty."

One of the memorable highlights was when a dancer from Ghana, Eric Mensah, came to the stage to dance to a song.

The second half of the evening was dedicated to the renowned special guest, Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson who was received well by the crowd.

He performed such popular tunes such as "Stand by Me." By the end of his performance, nearly all of the audience was out of their seats and there were several people dancing in the aisles and at the front of the stage.

The next evening, the Barbary Coast continued this mood of using music as a representation of culture and as a portrayal of history.

Freshman Sarah London dazzled the stage with her singing styles for two songs near the beginning of the performance, along with pianist Onche Ugbabe '98 and saxophonist Tony Jurado '98.

Joseph Bowie and his brother Byron Bowie soon came to the stage and performed a few pieces with the Coast.

After the intermission, the Bowie brothers came back to the stage to jam with their own group, Defunkt. They performed original tunes including, "She Only 19 Years Old" and "Make the Dance."

At one point, Joseph made an announcement to the crowd voicing his concerns about drugs and alcohol in out society and the "negative" assumption that is made about the relationship of these vices to music.

He explained in the playbill that he believes that our society must eliminate the threat of drugs "by recognizing the catastrophic numbers of casualties each year in this genocide."

The walls of Spaulding Auditorium will forever ring after these performances this past weekend.

Not only was the auditorium filled on both nights, but many audience members danced both nights to the tunes of both the Percussion Ensemble and the Barbary Coast with the two special guest performers.

These concerts will hopefully set a precedent of combining musical artists from the College and from abroad so that in years to come, the Dartmouth community can continue to witness the transformation of traditions.