Mark’s bother, David, recommended we take a listen to this African band he’s been following. I know very little about African music, so it sounded like fun to explore a new musical genre. Off we go to Lauralthirst where Dusu Mali is performing.
Lauralthirst reminds me a little of some down and out blues bar in New Orleans. I like the rough hewn look here. The upholstery of our booth is almost worn through, but hey, the springs have not broken through yet, so it works. It is self-serve here. One orders drinks at the bar and brings them back to the table. The space is small. But that didn’t stop the crowd from moving to the irresistible beat of the music.
The opening act tonight is Cosmic Rose. They are touted as a reggae, funk, and rock band, but the smooth velvet voice of lead singer, Lauren Rose, and the heavy reliance upon the saxophone sounded like jazz to me. They are a wonderful band with a lovely sound.
Dusu Mali is reportedly African blues and rock and roll according to their web site. Dusu Mali means “the heart” and the heart is where the bands wants you to feel the music. I am definitely feeling it.
Their sound is kind of mystical. The lead singer, Ibrahim Kelly, has a high-pitched tangy voice, like biting into a dish and being pleasantly surprised by a very original flavor. I loved every unique sound that came from his lips. This guy can also play guitar extremely well, but it is when he starts playing a large bongo-like drum that I get totally blown away. It is a very physical performance. Many of their songs break into a what sounds like a jam session that highlights performances from the band members. It is music that beckons everyone to dance shamelessly to wild abandon, except for my husband and I who have every right to be ashamed at our dancing—ya, we are THAT bad. At an age where I think nothing can surprise me anymore, it is a lot of fun to hear something so beautifully different.
As I listen to incredibly original sound of Dusu Mali, I think, “Why isn’t this place packed? The cover charge of $5/person does not begin to represent the degree of talent or musical worth of this band.” But then I look at the time. Its 1:15 am! We are they only patrons left in the room. It is so damn late that even the young adults have gone home. The feature band should be starting at 9pm, not 11:30pm. How does a band get heard if they are performing after everyone has gone to bed? It was painful watching these really good musicians perform for only my party of five. This band deserves a better than this.
Also, why can’t Lauralthirst have a waiter? As my brother-in-law rightfully pointed out, people would likely order far more food and drink if there were servers occasionally checking in with patrons for additional orders. I hate standing around a bar waiting to place and receive my food and drink orders. Nor do I like sitting alone in a booth while my spouse waits to give and receive food and drink orders.
Laurelthirst, Cosmic Rose, Dusu Mali Band
I will admit the cute name give me pause. When I texted my brother for the location of the show and he responded Laurelthrist I thought he was making a joke. Nope. Yes, the pub is in the Laurelhurst neighborhood and yes it is a Public House i.e a drinking establishment, but the name was a wee bit too cutesy for my taste. On the other hand it was named in 1988, not a decade know for lasting cleverness.
Fortunately, Laurelthirst did not live up to its iffy name.
It is a good pub in NE. Slightly run-down and decorated with old child’s toys that during October have a slightly Halloween vibe.
They have an excellent beer selection, a solid bar and good service although you did have to order at the bar. I had steak and brie sandwich with bean/sausage soup waiting for the music to start. Solid food, served hot shortly after ordering. It is a nice environment for a drink and bar food. But we were not there for the food and drink, we came for the music.
Cosmic Rose & Dusu Mali Band
There is a small stage at the back of the pub and we were early enough to be near the front.
The first show was Cosmic Rose a reggae/ska style band who played for an hour and 45 minutes. There are styles of music that is always better live, including zydeco, ska and reggae. They are an excellent band and reminded me of my youth when I listened to more ska. And who would have thought a ukulele would work so well with a reggae band.
The second act was the Dusu Mali Band, who describe themselves as “improvisational African blues rock & roll.” I would describe them as incredible. The music does have a west African feel but the songs are long with amazing guitar and traditional African drum solos and improvisations. Live music is more enjoyable when they riff on a song for long periods of time. It is why I like remixes of songs. Dusu Mali riff with energy and style.. And for 5 bucks. What a bargain.
The only sad part of the show is that they did not take the stage until about 11:30 and by then two thirds of the audience had gone home and missed a phenomenal band.
I do not know why so many music shows start so late, ending well past the bed time of everyone who holds down a job. Even on a weekend it is hard to stay up past 11, especially at my age.
However the music of Dusu Mali Band is so energetic I was wired long enough to drive home. They will be playing Nov 19th at GoodFoot and I will try to be front and center.
It is rare that CDs are as good as the live shows of local performers. Usually the recordings are stiff and stilted. Not for either of these bands. I bought both bands CD’s and we listened to them as we drove to Estacada the next day. The CDs are every bit as enjoyable as the live shows.