You'll want to be at the Old Town School of Folk Music on Wednesday, January 15, for a most unusual musical experience. The Otaak Bamd's performance begins at 8:00 p.m. Otaak Band, is the exciting cross-cultural collaboration between drummer Miguel Merino from the United States, and the remarkable singer Ahmed Said Abuamna from the Beja community of Eastern Sudan. Otaak Band will be performing music from their 2012 release Bejawiya, the first recording to take an ancient East-African lyre, the masankop, out of its traditional setting and feature it as the lead instrument in a contemporary ensemble.
This will be a singular opportunity for American audiences to meet Ahmed Said Abuamna, a master lyre player and singer. With his spectacular voice and dazzling traditional dress and dances, he is a treasure of African music. Mr. Abuamna is the most outspoken advocate for the preservation of the great Beja civilization, one of the oldest and richest in the world.
Otaak Band is equal parts performance and education- in addition to concerts the band conducts interactive workshops and master classes on rhythm and dance; Beja language, society, and culture; traditional arts and crafts; and building and playing the masankop. They have performed at concert halls, art galleries, public schools, libraries, and a variety of community events.
On Thursday, January 16, the Old Town School of Folk Music will host the Beja rhythm and dance workshop at 7:00 p.m. ($20 registration).
There will be one more performance in Chicago before the band moves on. On Thursday, January 30, at 8:00 p.m. Otaak will perform at 32 Forty ($12)