WHO: Mr. Something Something
WHERE: The Boot Pub
WHEN: Monday, Dec. 12
Inspired by the Nigerian folk hero Fela Kuti, a political activist who expressed his ideas through music, Mr. Something Something shares a message of change, inclusiveness and self-empowerment through its lyrics carried by Afrobeats, but also through the dancing the music inspires.
Frontman Johan Hultgvist describes himself as a born again dancer who never danced unless he was thoroughly intoxicated, until three years ago when a girlfriend invited him to a drumming circle. The free form dancing that ensued became what he described as a form of therapy whereby he peeled back the layers of restrictions he placed on his mind and himself.
When he met Mr. Something Something founding members Larry Graves (drums) and John MacLean (saxophone) who studied and played the unbeatable rhythms of Nigeria, Senegal, Mali and Ghana for 20 years, the powerful African beats were the perfect outlet for creating music people could dance to and lose themselves in.
"We all came into this with the understanding that we wanted to write music that was inclusive: music designed to engage the listener," Hultgvist said.
"The lyrical message is sometimes political. It’s about a social consciousness conveyed in music imagery. The music is designed to get you up and moving and hopefully get to a point of ecstatic release. A place where you can forget yourself."
Mr. Something Something welcomes dancers to the floor Monday, Dec. 12 at the Boot Pub.
The group combines western instruments with improvisation and Afrobeats for a percussive-driven sound. In the spirit of Kuti, the music is highly polyrhythmic with beats often being kept by percussion, bass and guitar.
"The guitar is a percussive instrument for most of the show," Hultgvist explained. "The horn section plays percussive parts and on bells and shakers and wood blocks. They all lock together. It is a very intricate web, a tapestry of rhythms. It doesn’t have the backbeat, the four on the floor, that you usually have in Western music."
Graves, MacLean and Hultgvist share the stage with songbirds Janine Stoll and Angie Nussey as well as Canadian trumpet icon Brian O’Kane, who has played with Diana Krall and Aretha Franklin.
The organic, ecstatic dance music led to accolades from Exclaim! Magazine: "It’s all there: punchy horn riffs, jazzy drums, percolating guitars and percussion galore."
While other critiques such as a Muzik Etc. writer praised the cathartic "healing" experience of a Mr. Something Something dance floor: "You catch this Toronto band live, this Mr. Something Something, and you’re a changed person. Next day, you are still dancing, hypnotized by the entrancing rhythms carried first hand across the waters from West Africa and made personal by this distinctive team."
The two-year young band keeps up a mind-blowing tour schedule. Already this year, the band toured across Canada twice, played East Coast shows three times and the road warriors are completing their second Western Canada tour. It adds up to 120 shows this year alone. They have shared stages with The Trews, Sarah Harmer, The Creaking Tree String Quartet, Eliana Cuevas, Cuff the Duke and The High Dials.
Somewhere among the small towns and big cities, Mr. Something Something found time to complete and release their second album, The Edge, this fall.
"We are really gaining momentum," Hultgvist said. "After this tour, we are going to go home and recharge."
However, it is back to work in the New Year with plans for a live album, a U.S. tour and traveling the Canada summer music festival circuit.