Tag: Oakland

So what IS it with the Paramount?

So what IS it with the Paramount?

Friday I went to the Paramount Theater in Oakland with some friends to see Youssou Ndour and Angelique Kidjo. Wow, what a GREAT show!! Kidjo did an amazing job of warming up the crowd, and (of course!) she encouraged everyone to get up and dance, and to come down to the stage.

Those of you that know the Paramount, a beautifully refurbished Art Deco theater in downtown Oakland, are probably saying, ‘Uh-oh!’ – because you know how ridiculously anal the security staff is there. They were caught off guard by the crowd’s swift reaction to Kidjo’s invitation to come down front and get with the groove. But they made up for it by picking on individual people to verbally harass and physically intimidate back to their seats!

And when is the last time you saw people sitting at a concert, enjoying the vibe, when ushers suddenly start sweeping the rows with flashlights, blinding people? Say, what??

– So, what IS it with the Paramount?

However, Kidjo and Ndour helped us all rise above the hostile treatment by Paramount staff, and Ndour’s final encore, a beautiful interpretation of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song was a fitting end to the evening.


Can’t wait to see Kidjo and Ndour again – just hope they are playing somewhere OTHER than the Paramount!

African Princesses, in Oakland?

African Princesses, in Oakland?

Did I mention that my theme tune is “Voyager” by Les Nubians?

“Voyager, rien ne m’est plus essentiel
Plier bagages, en quête d’autres images plus réelles..
Partir loin et découvrir
Quel air l’humanité respire
Comment nos contemporains vivent
Sous d’autres lumières.

“Travel, nothing is more important to me
Pack my bags, in search of other images more real…
Travel far and discover
The air that humanity breathes
And how our contemporaries live
Under other lights.

So I just had to be there this afternoon at Yoshi’s when Les Nubians included Oakland in their pre-release tour for their new album, “NU REVOLUTION”! What can I say, other than the music was true to their ‘Afropean’ heritage – a wonderful mix of African rhythyms, R&B, with a jazzy style, with lyrics in French and English. Check it out for yourself at Les Nubians.

Les Nubians, Afro Hair Dance
Les Nubians, Afro Hair Dance

Great as the new songs are from their new CD, the most fun part was the interaction between Hélène and Célia and the kids in the audience, especially the Afro Hair Dance, which they even performed again at the end of the show as an encore, a special request by an 8 year old fan!

meeting Les Nubians at Yoshi's
meeting Les Nubians at Yoshi's

Thanks to my daughter for taking the photo, and to my girlfriend Regina for indulging my moment with Les Princesses Nubiennes! 😉

Toumani Diabate, master Kora player

Toumani Diabate, master Kora player

Some of the most enjoyable things about travel are learning new and different cultural traditions, trying to master your first few phrases of a new language, and discovering rich new veins of music.

Of course, most of us don’t get to travel to our dream adventure destinations nearly as often as we would like, so when the opportunity presented itself to witness master Kora player Toumani Diabate playing here in the Bay Area, I jumped at the chance.

Toumani Diabate at Yoshi's
Toumani Diabate at Yoshi's

Yoshi’s offers an intimate venue to get close to, and sometimes even converse with, a wide variety of world class musicians. While the primary focus is Jazz, traditional and modern musicians from around the world are often also featured.

… And this week Toumani Diabate, a Kora (traditional West African 21 stringed harp-like instrument) master from Mali filled the house at Yoshi’s in Oakland with incredibly varied sounds, from guitar like riffs and solos to complex melodies making use of all those strings – but don’t take my word for it, check his music out for yourself, live if you can, or on YouTube: