Doors at 8:30 pm; Show at 9:00 pm
Tickets are $15
Mbira Magic: the Neoafrosoul of Piwai
From art and culture site Noirologie:
With her hands concealed inside a gourd resting in her lap, glistening droplets of sound cascading into the air, it’s easy to imagine something otherworldly is happening when Piwai performs. And there is: the act of an artist reclaiming her musical roots.
“Christian colonizers in southern Africa brainwashed the Shona into believing their own music was evil,” she says. “I was born in a Christian household, so I was apprehensive about playing the mbira. But it’s been a spiritual awakening for me.” The ancestral notes she plucks from the mbira’s tines are a signature element of her neoafrosoul style—a mixture of complex african rhythms blended with jazz, soul, and latin flavors.
Piwai has never wanted to be center stage, but the packed crowds at Ashkenaz affirm that’s just where she belongs. She feels a sense of mission to bring the melodies of southern Africa to more audiences, especially now. “The music lifts people’s spirits,” she says. “It’s a little bit sad in a way that we don’t have more of it in the Bay Area. It’s either drumming or Afrobeat, usually. But I’m hoping to keep getting better and bring more of it forward.”
Piwai was surrounded by music from an early age. Her first influences include music from the Shona and Ndebele people of Zimbabwe, Suthu and Zulu tribes, and the Zimbabwean Catholic Church. She joined her first choir at the age of 10, wrote her first song at 13, and hasn’t stopped since. Piwai went on to study with renowned percussionists Yagbe Onilu and Butch Haynes, trained vocally at the Jazz School of Berkeley, and delved into the mbira – a traditional African instrument associated with profound spiritual union – with maestro Cosmas Magaya.
This cinematic set will showcase the individual and combined talents of KYN, Kamerin, and Ghostlore. The artists' collaborative performance will transport you through a series of emotional and acoustic landscapes as they reflect on both the mundane and the profound, the beautiful and the heartbreaking aspects of today's world.
KYN (Yari Bundy & Josh Casey) is an electronic music duo exploring lush sonic landscapes and rhythmic structures both familiar and experimental. Their music is often described as beat driven sound design with cinematic overtones. KYN performs music that is innovative in scope yet instinctively emotive in practice.
Kamerin (Kamerin McDonald) is an Oakland-based folk-pop singer songwriter who is not afraid to show their vulnerability in their music. A classically trained vocalist, Kamerin lush vocal harmonies with with electroacoustic synthesizer sounds and catchy beats to send you melting backward into some childhood nostalgia you didn't know you had.
Ghostlore (Tim Kim and Kamerin McDonald) began as a vocal improvisation duo providing live dance accompaniment. Rich with twisting and turning vocal melodies and harmonies, their material is hauntingly sweet and sorrowful all at once. At times their sound is as minimal as two voices alone; at others it is a densely layered soundscape of vocal, violin and synthesizer loops. The duo deeply values and creates space for improvisation within their work, bringing a sense of spontaneity, honesty and playfulness to their lovingly crafted sound.
Barbara Nerness is an artist and math teacher residing in Berkeley, California. She blends a background in mathematics, programming, music, and photography to create geometric visualizations that move with sound, transporting the listener to new spaces.