A&E » Arts

World-renowned for the Worldbeat sound



Who: Alpha YaYa Diallo

Where: Boot Pub

When: Monday, Feb. 9

Worldbeat guitarist Alpha YaYa Diallo and his backup band of Afro-funksters are making their yearly party pilgrimage to the Boot Pub this Monday.

"We do very good at the Boot. It’s a very nice place to play," says Diallo from Vancouver, his home since 1991. "We usually play there once a year. Playing there is like a party for us."

Born in the West African nation of Guinea, the self-taught Diallo made his way to Europe during the 1980s, where he became a member of Fatala, a group of West African musicians recording for Peter Gabriel’s Real World label.

After the group’s North American tour in 1991, Diallo made the decision to stay in Vancouver.

He has since recorded four albums, racking up Best Global Recording and Best World Independent Juno Awards for 1999’s The Message and 2002’s The Journey . Fans will be pleased to hear a fifth is in the early stages of composition.

A mainstay of the summer jazz and folk festival circuit in Canada, Diallo’s winter club shows are slightly more intimate affairs. He scales his backing band Bafing (named after a river in his home village in Guinea) down to four or five musicians.

The sound, however, remains as big as ever, driven by a combination of African percussion and North American drum kit, funky basslines, and featuring the lyrical guitar melodies and distinct vocal stylings of Diallo.

Expect everything from mellow, lilting grooves to driving dancehall beats.

"We play two genres of music," he says. "Sometimes we go light, sometimes we like to pump it up a little bit."

Even though he wields the most North American of instruments – acoustic and electric guitars – Diallo is far from Afro-lite. He may appreciate the music of rock gods Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana and Pat Metheny, but he remains fiercely committed to his Guinean roots.

"In the studio, I’m very careful with what I do because I identify myself as an African musician and I want to keep myself that way," says Diallo.

"Musicians are messengers," he adds. "Music is about sending a message and experience in life. Through the music we show a different culture.

"It’s a way to know African music, to discover our culture, the beauty of the culture, the melody of the music, the lyrics. Africa has a very rich culture and many people still really don’t know."

African culture aficionados, or those who simply love to groove to an infectious dancehall beat, will want to catch Alpha YaYa Diallo at the Boot Pub this Monday.

Call 604-932-3338 for information.