Winter Park / Live Music: Hear the beat of the African heart |

Winter Park / Live Music: Hear the beat of the African heart

by Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

Tonight, the Winter Park Pub will be filled with the drum beat of West Africa.

The concert features world-renown musician Bola Abimbola, producer, composer, vocalist and percussionist who came to the United States from Nigeria.

Abimbola, also known as “Mayor” or “Mr. Multy” by his fans who love his versatility and myriad of talent, is a native of Lagos, Nigeria in West Africa. He released his first hit single, “Silifa Bamijo,” at the age of 19 and since then his award-winning music has been the feature of films, television and radio shows.

His first release in the United States is titled “Ara Kenge,” a CD touted by music writers as a unique collection of some of the best rhythms Abimbola has to offer.

“Ara Kenge stays fresh and full of simmering intrigue from start to finish,” wrote Jacob Richardson in the Evolution of Media. “The foundation of older African rhythms can satisfy those looking for a classic sound, but on top of this, Abimbola deftly incorporates modern instrumentation making an end product that is relevant today.”

After touring with King Sunny Ade (who he said is a very beautiful person with a lot of energy) and the African Beats in 1998, Abimbola found a new home in the United States.

“We had fun touring the world together musically,” he said. Ade was a very good leader who encouraged him to be more creative with what he believed in.

Now a resident of Denver, the gifted musician regularly performs with his band Wazobia. He also leads an African Songs Workshop, where he teaches percussion and song to students of all ages.

Although his singing and drumming are what originally got him noticed by Ade, Abimbola plays a wide variety of instruments to keep the beat hopping, including mandolin, vibes, timbales and ukulele.

Salem drummer and front man Todd Anders Johnson is scheduled to join Abimbola and Wazobia for this performance in Winter Park.

Like Abimbola, Johnson also composes music, writes lyrics and plays percussion. He has been performing, teaching, recording and composing music throughout the United States and Canada for almost a quarter of a century.

Four other musicians, who regularly play with Wazobia, join Abimbola and Johnson for their first-ever Winter Park Pub performance, including a third percussionist, Ido Ziv. Christian Mockett plays guitar for the band, Rob Garland plays bass, and Troy Warwick plays the keyboard and offers background vocals.

Ziv, who is originally from Israel, was inspired by the drum and rhythm at the age of 9 and Abimbola said he’s the kind of person that plays from the heart. As the young musician grew older, Ziv was inspired in “traditional and folkloric styles” and he’s become enthralled with how music can transform and change a culture. He hopes to use this global sound to bring the world’s awareness closer together “to promote tolerance and nourish an understanding of our humanity through performance.”

Warwick said playing with Abimbola “is like riding a roller coaster ” wonderfully terrifying and memorable at the same time.”

Garland, whose father was a also musician, started playing the trombone in third grade and picked up the bass as a sophomore in high school.

Mockett was playing at 12 years old to Nirvana records before he developed an obsession with classic rock, ’70s funk, blues and world music. He studied music in Dakar, Senegal, and has played in the Front Range African scene for almost four years with Charlie Sounds, Feli Aho, Boubacar Diebate and Dialy Kounda and BongoLove.

Abimbola’s songs are usually sung in the West African Yoruba language and in “broken” English. Reoccurring trends throughout Abimbola’s music include gradually growing percussion combinations, smooth electric basslines, and a fresh Caribbean sound.

With so many worldly sounds coming together this concert is sure to please audiences from all walks of life, from African music purists to the most laid-back music fan just out for a great time.

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