This summer, two festivals celebrate the sweeping cultural wealth of the continental Africa.
Rachel Joyce, co-producer of one of the festivals, was instrumental in bringing Lucky Dube, now deceased, to Minneapolis a year ago teams up with Steve McClellan, longtime talent buyer for First Avenue as well as others from DEMO-Diverse Emerging Music Organization-to form the first year of the Pan African Festival. Their line-up features first-rate African arts from around the world as well as locally.
Opening night, August 6, sets a precedent with Malian guitarist and singer Habib Koité who performs with his band Bamada at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. Koité gigged at the Walker over a year ago nearly “blowing the roof off the building” with his exuberance and the audience’s frenetic energy.
Not every event charges a cover. The second night of the festival offers a free evening of African jazz, art, and wine at Altered Esthetics Gallery. In addition to music, Pan African Festival offers dance troupe performances and film screenings. A detailed schedule can be found at DEMO’s website: http://www.demomn.org
This six-day celebration of African arts also includes a nightclub event featuring the region’s popular African DJs (August 8), a free outdoor concert by local and international African musicians on the West Bank including such artists as M.anifest, Z-Plus, and Munnah Myers (August 9) and a day of African music documentary films at the Parkway Theater (August 10). The recent addition of hip hopper K’Naan on August 11th rounds out the artistic menu.
A nonprofit organization, DEMO’s mission seeks to support, educate and promote emerging musicians and enhance communities open to diverse, multi-cultural, musical experiences. Through featuring artists’ performances, reaching out to communities with educational materials, and creating alliances with other institutions, DEMO hopes to enrich the Twin Cities cultural landscape