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Toubab Krewe – “Underground Improv”

Episode 14: ——- Dig what I’m doing? Consider donating $5 or more at the bottom of this post.

I first heard Toubab Krewe when we played FloydFest in Floyd, VA during the summer of 2006. I could tell right away that they were a festival favorite and sure enough, we saw them almost every time we played that festival. Over the years I kept in touch with them and our band played several shows in the area including various venues/festivals like Starr Hill Music Hall, Satellite Ballroom, Capital Ale House, The Festy, and others.

One similar aspect to both of our bands is that our music is primarily instrumental. I can remember joking with them once before a show about how people would often ask us/make comments like “where’s your lead singer?” or “you should sing more, then it would be complete.” I believe that these commonalities between our groups helped foster a great musical friendship.

I caught up with Drew Heller (guitar), Luke Quaranta (percussion), and Justin Perkins (kora) in late September before their show at The Jefferson Theater and captured this improv session beneath the stage.

Jay’s “Pun Picks” – Toubab Krewe – “Underground Improv” (Ep. 14) from Pun Picks on Vimeo.

Jay Pun: At first listen, the African influences are definitely a major component to the band’s sound. You all are very well traveled including tours all over the U.S., Africa, and Europe. What other particular genres/cultures are you most inspired by?

Drew Heller: Traditional music from Southern Appalachia have had a huge influence on me. Particularly Piedmont Blues guitar playing and Old-Time fiddle tunes. Zydeco music from Louisiana has been like a second heartbeat for a good long while now. Chicha music from Peru has also been inspiring. The music of Django Reinhardt is infinitely listenable too.

You all have shared the stage with a range of different acts including Matisyahu, Railroad Earth, Infamous Stringdusters, to name a few. What other groups would you like to be on the same bill as that you haven’t yet played with?

Vieux Farka Touré

Either with Toubab Krewe or with a side project, who would like to collaborate with musically?

Tin Hat Trio, Gas Lamp Killer

Who are some of the up and coming acts that you are diggin’ on lately?

Adron from Atlanta, Georgia. Emily Estrella and the Faux Barrio Billionaires from New Orleans, Louisiana.

You all definitely have grown a following here and I think it’s safe to say that you all are one C-ville’s favorites, do you have some favorite spots when you come through?

I love wandering around Cville. Usually I head straight to Mudhouse in order to clear the cobwebs. I’ll end up drifting around Main St till showtime. Late night drinks at Miller’s have always been fun too.

What’s next for Toubab Krewe?

We are scoring a 1932 Japanese silent film called “I Was Born, but…” We are performing it at the New York Guitar Festival on January 30th. This has been one of the most fun musical projects ever. It is especially fun because the film is a comedy centered around the hijinks of a group of neighborhood kids so the more I watch, the more I end up laughing and in good spirits. We’ll be touring all across the continental US this Winter and Spring.

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