17 Hippies and Dobert Gnahore
By Blaine Schultz
There is a pulsating sense of energy just beneath the surface of Dobert Gnahore’s music. Her fluid vocals are gently propelled by musicians led by acoustic guitarist Colin Laroche de Feline. With roots in Africa’s Ivory Coast, it is no surprise that the English translations for Gnahore’s songs tackle some heavy issues – dipping into gender politics, economics and war. A percolating battery of percussionists and vocalists adds up to some intriguing music with a message in any language.
The title cut of 17 Hippies Heimlich “tells what happens when a strong feeling should be kept a secret, so as to keep that feeling alive and strong; whereas blaring it out would destroy it.” But there is nothing secretive about this tribe. While many kids went techno when the Berlin Wall fell these folks went the other route picking up ukulele, dulcimer, violins, accordion and various horns to form this moveable feast. Alternately rollicking and melancholy, they pick and choose influences from Morocco, Romania, France and Germany. This rag-tag bunch is hard to peg unless Cajun-Balkan-Indian is a new genre. One of the members even dated the Velvet Underground’s Nico.
Appearing Saturday 1 p.m. Global Union festival at Humboldt Park