Well it’s been a long, hot (and wet) summer here in Central Australia and I can hardly believe how quickly April has come around. As things begin to wind up for the busy season so comes the return of our in house musicians. This year we welcome back some regular voices and add a few new local musicians into the mix. Keep an eye on in house performances page for the full calendar as it becomes available.
This Friday sees the first night of music for the year with King Marong and Bec Matthews. If you are not already familiar with their work check out their biographies below and book a table for dinner or a room tonight and catch the performances, this weekend playing Friday 4th April 2014 through to Sunday 6th April 2014. Performances start at 7:30pm in the homestead and finish up around 9:30pm.
Gambian Master Percussionist, Singer, Composer, Teacher and Cultural Ambassador.
Born in The Gambia West Africa, King has been performing professionally since the age of 12. King developed his skills in the coastal fishing village where he grew up surrounded by the griots (hereditary musicians) and international musicians who were his mentors for Senegambian drumming and cultural priorities. In his late teens he formed his band Kunta Kinteh and consequently toured The Gambia, Senegal, UK and Europe. King has since built an international reputation as a master of many African drumming styles on instruments such as the Djembe, Boucarabou, Doundoun and Sabar, performing and teaching percussion to students from around the world.
“People in my classes speak many different languages but they all come together through drumming.”
Since arriving in Australia, King has developed a reputation as being a sensitive versatile and dynamic performer. He has worked extensively with local West African, Australian and international artists to introduce the complex and powerful drumming rhythms, melodic kora music and vivid dance style of his culture to Australia. His involvement in many collaborative projects has enabled him to work with both local and international musicians across all genres of music from classical to electronic and the world of styles in between.
King has several Melbourne based ensembles which range from the high energy and visually dynamic traditional percussion and dance rhythms of Safara to the sleek and sophisticated ‘afrobeat-jazz-reggae-fusion’ of his band Afro Mandinko. For this project King has been collaborating with some of Melbourne’s premier musicians, playing and arranging the traditional songs of the Gambia and Senegal with a contemporary big band feel. His most recent collaboration with fellow West African Lamine Sonko One Africa brings you everything from melodic guitar and vocals to explosive and engaging percussion and dance in their interactive show.
Singer, songwriter, composer, musician
From her early beginnings as a classical pianist, Bec Matthews has travelled a diverse and cosmopolitan musical path which has lead to her current status as one of Australia’s most talented and charming players of the kora (21 string West African Harp). Bec’s musical repertoire also includes the kamelngoni (West African hunter’s harp) and bolong (African gourd bass) along with trumpet, guitar, assorted percussion and voice. As an artist who crosses musical and cultural boundaries, Bec fuses her own original music with influences from traditional West African, Middle Eastern and World Fusion music. Her original songs and music reflect Bec’s personal journey and worldview, echoing her extensive studies with West African musical masters and travels through remote Australia and elsewhere.
Working closely with Gambian artist King Marong, Bec has been a dynamic and pivotal member of the Melbourne-based ‘Safara Music School’ which enjoys a reputation for its uplifting and community-minded spirit. As a part of this project Bec has been involved in numerous exciting collaborations incorporating art and music, including drum making, drumming and dance, African story telling and interactive performance.
Having managed and performed for 9 years with afrobeat masters “Afro Mandinko” a 10 piece afro-fusion band, Bec has performed and workshopped at numerous Australian festivals including Woodford Folk Festival, Port Fairy Folk Festival, AWME, WOMADelaide, Brisbane International Festival, Perth International Festival, Meredith Music Festival, Falls Festival and the Warrnambool Children’s Festival to name a few. No stranger to international stages, Bec has performed and conducted workshops in Canada and the UK, and has also enjoyed several musical residencies in The Gambia, West Africa.
Bec’s graceful talents on and understanding of the kora and at least 3 other traditional West African instruments have been nurtured by great masters and troupes such as the Guinean cultural drum and dance ensemble ‘Fatala’, Bamako based kamelngoni master Adama Sidube and the BBC world music award nominee Juldeh Camara. In 2007 Bec enjoyed a 6 month residency playing trumpet with Gambian based pan-African band “Lolo Lulu” (5 Star Band), on many occasions playing for the President of the Gambia.
“Bec Matthews is a charming entertainer, captivating her audience with her very personal and intimate performance where she talked the audience through her stunning collection of koras and their beautiful ‘other-worldly’ sounds while playing delicate melodies interspersed with sparkling runs. Bec also displayed her skills on guitar and trumpet, layering harmonies in loops as she played a unique and eclectic mix of traditional African and her own contemporary material with a very melodic but powerful voice. Bec‘s passion for her African music shines through as she plays as one with the kora” Angela Davies, Eltham World Harmonies
In 2010 Bec recorded her debut EP “Utopia”. Featuring members of her then band the ‘Kora Collective’. The recording showcases original songs in a melting pot of rich vocal and instrumental textures. Performing as part of the Arts Centre’s ‘Mix it up’ Program supporting Kora great ‘Toumani Diabate’, Bec Matthews and the Kora Collective captivated their audience with a selection of lush sound-scapes, contemporary beats and original and traditional songs.
Having relocated to the NT, a new musical direction is emerging for Bec with her ever evolving solo performance as well as involvement in Cabaret and Operatic productions. Swinging from stomping swamp blues to classical West African folk songs and a myriad of styles in between, Bec Matthews is an artist of diverse talent. With her stories of misadventure with African witch doctors to songs speaking of our own stark inequalities, Bec will take you on a journey to far flung corners of the globe and back.