UPDATE: Read a REVIEW of Wednesday’s concerts.
After 23 years of playing full-volume in a Cajun dance band, fiddler David Greely has gone unplugged to help his audiences plug into a more intimate experience.
Greely, 58, of Breaux Bridge, La., will carry the music of his ancestors to Cedar Rapids for a weeklong residency during the annual CSPS Landfall Festival of World Music. He will be in town Monday through Sept. 25, conducting classes, lectures and workshops, and will perform three Landfall concerts.
The fourth annual festival brings musicians from around the globe to the newly renovated CSPS Hall from Wednesday through Sept. 23, moving to Greene Square Park for an afternoon of free music Sept. 24. Audiences will hear a mix of African, Caribbean, European, Nepalese and Cajun traditions.
Joining Greely onstage will be accordion player Steve Riley, co-founder of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys; fiddle and accordion player Chris Stafford, co-founder of Feufollet; and Jo Vidrine, bass player from Les Malfecteurs.
Greely performed for years with the Mamou (pronounced mah-moo) Playboys.
“What really interests me now is to perform the music of the house party, being at home rather than in a dance hall. There’s a lot more variety in a more personal situation,” he says. “You can reach some really deep emotions and get really ferocious with some up-tempo dance music.”
So his Landfall audiences will hear acoustic Cajun music — something he says is rarely presented anymore. He has delved deeply into Cajun history and the evolution of that music, which he’ll share during workshops and discussions.
“I’ve spent a lot of time getting involved with the Cajun early 17th century rural dialect here,” he says. “Often to modern people, it sounds like Elizabethan English would sound to us.”
Greely says he heard some Cajun music growing up near Baton Rouge, but his father listened more to country music and western swing. He picked up the fiddle at 17 and hasn’t looked back.
“When I got interested in the fiddle, my family kept telling me my grandfather was very Cajun. He was a fiddler, but I never heard him play,” Greely says. “My family was all excited when they heard I was interested in it. I felt it was my job to look into Cajun music. When I did, I discovered it was the best music I’d ever heard. It really, really resonated with me.”
His mother’s family was part of the French migration that became the Acadian people, bringing their culture and music first to Canada and eventually to Louisiana. They put down roots in Louisiana in 1785.
“When they arrived here, they prospered. They had land, and because they were Catholic, they had lots of children, all living side by side with French-speaking black people from Africa by way of the West Indies. Nowadays we call those people Creoles,” he says. “That was when their very European, very late-Renaissance sounding music became infused with blues and polyrhythms, starting in the late 1700s.”
Even though his own life is infused with all things Cajun, Greely’s five children are forging their own paths.
“They all play music, but none play Cajun music,” he says. “That’s OK. As long as they’re playing and enjoying themselves.”
— Diana Nollen
- WHAT: David Greeley at Steve Riley at the Landfall Festival of World Music
- WHERE: CSPS, 1103 Third St. SE, and Greene Square Park, downtown Cedar Rapids
- WHEN: 6 p.m. Wednesday, CSPS, $10 at the door; 6 p.m. Sept. 22, CSPS, $10 at the door; 9:30 p.m. Sept 23: CSPS, $10 at the door; 2:30 p.m. Sept. 24, Greene Square Park, free
- DETAILS: Legionarts.org or (319) 364-1580
The brain child of writer Rina Durante, Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino (Best Italian World Music Band) is the foremost and longest standing traditional music band from Salento, in Puglia, coming together in 1975.
In 2007 the lead passed from the founder of the band, Daniele Durante, to his son Mauro. Canzoniere’s live concerts explode with energy, passion, rhythm and mystery, bringing audiences from the past to present and back.
Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino | 7:45 p.m. Wednesday | CSPS, 1103 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids | $10
Joaquin Diaz began his musical career as a street musician in the streets of San Domingo, Dominican Republic. At age 12, this Dominican “king of accordion” was playing for guests at a local hotel.
By the time he was 17, he was performing at the Olympic Games; played for the president of the Dominican Republic at his presidential home; won first prize at the highly competitive Merengue Competition of Santo Domingo; and appeared each week on the Sabro Show, a favorite variety program on Dominican TV. He also toured with the Folk Ballet of the Dominican Republic. He now resides in Montreal, Canada.
Joaquin Diaz | 7:45 p.m. Sept. 22 | CSPS, 1103 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids | $10
Tani Diakite and the Afrofunkstars hale from Mali by way of Madison. They bring the sound of Malian hunters to CSPS through the music of Diakite, a native of Wasulu, Mali, and his mastery of the kamale n’goni, an instrument that originates from Wasulu, a region on the border of Mali and Guinea, West Africa. It is derived from the larger Donso N’goni, which means “hunter’s harp.” Throughout the centuries, Malian hunters were also skilled musicians who used their trance-like music to appease the spirits of the animals they hunted, so as not to be plagued by evil spirits. The Afrofunkstars are backed up by one of the hottest rhythm sections around, featuring Paddy Cassidy on jembe, Hugo Reynolds on drumset, and Mamoudou Diallo and Djam Vivie on percussion. The funk is rounded out by bass powerhouse Nickolas Moran, Peter Baggenstoss on keyboards, and Matt Manske on guitar. The interplay between Kamale N’goni and jembe grooves so hard that audiences can’t stay still – the urge to get up and move is too powerful!
6 p.m. Sept. 23 | CSPS, 1103 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids | $10
1 p.m. Sept. 24 | Greene Square Park, downtown, Cedar Rapids | free
Dikanda, in one of the African’s dialects, stands for family, and this group, founded in 1997 in Szczecin, Poland, lives and works as if they are a small family. Their acoustic songs have been inspired by Poland’s folklore, Oriental culture, Balkan, Macedonian and Romanian. Winner of numerous prizes in European festivals, the group’s concerts are a journey around the music of the world.
Dikanda | 7:45 p.m. Sept. 23 | CSPS, 1103 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids | $10
The word “Kutumba” holds a special meaning in the Nepali language. It stands for a unique bond among community members.
As their name suggests, this folk instrument ensemble from Katmandu brings together traditional folk tunes and instruments with new and improvised sounds and ideas.
Kutumba | 4 p.m. Sept. 24 | Greene Square Park, downtown, Cedar Rapids | free