Lakou Mizik brings the house down
The Dance Place was rocking last night April 23 in Washington D.C!. If you read what I wrote on www.windowsonhaiti.com and Facebook a couple of weeks, you need now to have the “ in concert experience “ with Lakou Mizik presently on a US tour which will take it to New York, Denver, Burlington and so on. For those in Washington D.C., well, you miss an absolutely dynamic, vibrant, powerful performance by a group of young musicians steeped in Haitian traditional culture, yet modern enough to appeal to everyone. Indeed, the music was a delightful blend of strong Haitian folkloric rythms, some konpa, even some dance hall at times.
But let me describe a bit the setting, so that you have an idea of the atmosphere inside the Dance Place. The concert hall is configured like an auditorium, so that you have a clear view from any angle. The stage is a very wide area and the musicians were place toward the rear section of the stage, with a wide area in front of the group left clear. Mrs. Carla Perlo, a frequent visitor to Haiti and involved with an organization called “the Network of Cultural Promoters of Latin America and the Caribbean (La Red) ”, made it a point to give a brief history of Lakou Mizik and how she made sure that a group from Haiti was chosen. She also underlined the fact that the area in front the band on the stage had been left empty for one single purpose: even though it was a concert, people were welcome to get up and dance, because it would be difficult for people to remain in their seats as they listen to the music. How right she was!
After the opening prayer, half way through the first song, “Zao Pile tè”, played on a furious rara beat, half of the audience left theirs seats to get to what became a dance floor. The concert had turned into a big happy party: both young (as young as 5 ½) and old (as old as 84) were shaking, gyrating in a happy mood, feeding on the energy of the music. People did not go back to their seats until intermission. 10 minutes later, back to the dance floor for more. The musicians outdid themselves. And most remarkable, it seems that they are interchangeable: at different times, the conga player (by the way, there were two conga players, a father and son combination) sang, the bass player (who plays an electronic bass drum while playing the bass), was on the drums; the guitar player was on the conga; the drummer was blowing into the famous Haitian cornet that defines rara and so on. It was remarkable!
The grand finale was also something else!. Playing the last tune, a 2016 Carnival tune, the musicians left the stage, inviting the audience to follow them to the lobby of the Dance Place and there, it was pandemonium. See the short video and you will see how the lobby of the Dance Place was transformed into a big Lakou rara!
It is with sadness however I noted that, despite publicity on the radio, there were few Haitians present in the audience which was dominated by Americans, both white and black as well as a few people from other nationalities. I would like to think that such absence might have been due to the fact that the publicity did not reach the Haitian community in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area. I leave it at that…….
I just hope that the Facebook readers who have the opportunity to read this brief account will check the Lakou mizik website at www.lakoumizik.com to find out if the group is performing in your area. This is an experience not to be missed.
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