Keeping in step with the rhythm of life by sharing nation’s music
Kenyan band brings its culture and sound to Banana Island stage.Allentown Morning Call, 2:18 AM EDT, August 7, 2007
Band member Moses Midundo, of Nairobi, Kenya (far right) joins hands with (from left) sisters Amanda Riedy, 3, Brenna Riedy, 6, Charissa, Riedy, 8, all of Michigan and Cyelowyn Willey and Rhiannon Willey, 9, both of Erie, during the Musikfest concert of Kenyan band Bana Kadori on Monday.
By Michael Duck | Of The Morning Call
August 7, 2007
Moses Midundo of Kenya spun around on the Banana Island stage at Musikfest Monday, shuffling and bobbing to the infectious African rhythm played by his band, Bana Kadori.
”We’re gonna let the kids come in front and dance for us!” called out Midundo, one of the band’s three singers. He leapt from the stage into the audience, where he coaxed a half-dozen children from their seats to bounce and sway with him.
Charissa Riedy, 8, was one of the first to leap to her feet. The music made her ”really want to, like, shimmy and stuff,” giggled Charissa, who was visiting from Michigan with her family.
Bana Kadori, a last-minute addition to this year’s Musikfest schedule, has shared the rhythms of its native Kenya at seven shows in the past four days as the festival’s ”artist-in-residence.” The band’s eight members are visiting the United States for the first time, hoping to expose more people to their country’s traditions of music and dance.
”We have to make [the children] happy by dancing, show them how our music is enjoyed,” Midundo said before the group’s family-oriented show.
Odindo Kadori, the band’s lead guitarist, agreed that moving to the music is key. ”The dance shows that you are enjoying whatever you are doing,” he said.
And that’s why the band dances constantly as it performs, he added, laughing.
Bana Kadori, which means ”sons of Dori,” formed in 1979 around Kadori and his two brothers, plus cousins and friends. The band’s songs — in Swahili and a tribal language called Luo — sing of love and friendship and even how to stop the spread of HIV, Kadori said.
The band’s members play electric guitars, bass and a drum kit, but they create music that sounds nothing like the thousands of American rock bands that play the same instruments. In Kadori’s hands, his electric guitar sounds almost like a traditional African instrument.
”I love the music. … It makes me feel like I’m in heaven or something,” said Jessica Lujwangana, a New York City dancer and friend of the band who joined them onstage.
Lujwangana, who was born in Tanzania, slid onto the stage with hip movements so fluid they’d make Beyonce jealous. After trading dance moves with Midundo, she glided down in front of the stage to hop and clap with Charissa and the other children.
Bana Kadori nearly didn’t play at Musikfest at all. The band came to Pennsylvania to perform at an Aug. 18 dinner-dance held by the Kenyan Community in the Lehigh Valley, said Bernard Oguche, one of the organization’s founders. The group includes about 200 people, and most of them were born in Kenya, Oguche said.
Bana Kadori arrived in late July, and Oguche contacted Musikfest organizer Patrick Brogan to see if he could fit in the band at the festival.
At the same time that Bana Kadori ”almost appeared out of nowhere,” Brogan said, he learned that Musikfest’s scheduled artist-in-residence, a drum troupe from Ghana called Kusum Gboo, would have to cancel all its Musikfest appearances because of last-minute visa problems.
Bana Kadori ended up replacing Kusum Gboo at all its scheduled performances and as artist-in-residence, Brogan said.
Bana Kadori’s music is different from Kusum Gboo’s, but it’s still ”an interaction with a group from Africa … something that the Lehigh Valley isn’t going to see everyday,” Brogan said.
Musikfest’s other artist-in-residence this year is percussionist Guillermo Cardenas of the Dominican Republic, who is leading workshops with local musicians, Brogan said.
Back at Banana Island on Monday, Charissa and the other children grinned and laughed as Midundo and Lujwangana showed them new ways to experience music. And the children weren’t the only ones learning something about Kenyan rhythms.
”How can you sit still?” asked Musikfest volunteer Jo Ann Gassner as she bopped along to the music.
Copyright 2007, The Morning Call