Modern Ghanian KING AYISOBA rocked Cafe Oto during the 12th LONDON AFRICAN MUSIC FESTIVAL
The 12th London African Music Festival took place from 19th to 28th September 2014 across 16 venues in London, put together by 10 producers under the direction of Festival founder Biyi Adepegba of Joyful Noise.
I briefly caught up with Biyi outside if Cate Oto in Dalston as were enjoying the last rays of warm autumnal sunshine and awaited the arrival of rootical King Ayisoba from North Ghana. It’s great that Biyi has moved his operation outside of the Southbank Centre, which hosted many of his events in the past, and by involving a range of curators he has come up with a full-on festival that is more community orientated and more diverse than ever. On this night, Biyi was in the area to pay his respects to the King before zipping off to check two other festival sessions including one at Passing Clouds that was, he said, “More attuned to his daughters tastes!”
The vibe in the Cafe was set for the arrival of the King by his barefoot dreadlocked compadre who laid down increasingly intense trance inducing set of rhythms on his djembe. It ensured the predominantly young crowd, who’d gathered to experience what was clearly one of the most earthy performances of the festival, were packed tight around the “stage”.
King Ayisoba arrived clad in his red gold and green outfit, dreadlocks twisted in sculptural shapes on his head and armed with his Kologo – a 2-string traditional instrument which he plays with with unbridled passion. As you watched him scanning the space above him gazing into the distance as he began to play you had to wonder what or who he saw or was looking at.
There is deep back story to this man. He was born in June 1975 at Bongo SOE near Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region and three clear years after birth, little King Ayisoba could still not walk. His father, Apoore Abaadong, now aged 110 years old and his mother, Azumapoka, also 91 years old, got worried at the time and tried all means including the use of traditional medicine to get him walk, but all failed.
It appears that King Aysisoba was destined to be a musician.His father encountered a soothsayer at the Market on a Soe Market day and was told his son was born to be a fetish priest with special powers. Apoore was also asked by the soothsayer to stop sending the child from place to place for treatment and instead, give him a Kologo and all will be well.
Shortly after Apoore gave his son a kologo he started walking and playing with it. It is said, that the sounds which came from the Ayisoba’s kologo moved one of Ayisoba’s uncles, a fetish priest, into performing wonders. From a young age his music was considered to have healing powers and he was allowed to perform at gatherings, including funerals. Schooling for Ayisoba was minimal – his mind was more on his kologo.
Today, King Ayisoba is a star in Ghana. His number one hit “I Want To See You My Father” is in the hearts and minds of every Ghanaian as he advises fathers to be responsible and stop spending all their money on girlfriends. As we tuned in the King Ayisoba in Cafe Oto we were able to savour his distinctive rootical sound that is simultaneously melodic and percussive. His songs flew into the air as he danced in his Dutch wooden clogs and produced two distinctively different voices that were punctuated by the sound of “kai kai kai” and what sounded like the harsh bleating of a goat.
His lyrics are very personal, imaginative and often funny. He is a Modern Ghanaian and has little time for Africa’s ‘Wicked Leaders’. On his recordings he readily unites the traditional with rap and reggae influences and apart from a blistering electric guitar meets kalogo duet with man called Zea it’s stripped down traditional music that fills Cafe Oto. As the set gathered momentum he joined forces with his djembe drummer and Wanlov The Kubalor- who’s armed with some nifty percussion – and just as he’s done in his native Ghana King Ayisoba and his bredren rocked the house with a unique set that had nothing to do with hi-life or afrobeat. All hail the King.
NOTE: For more on the line-up of the 12th LONDON AFRICAN MUSIC FESTIVAL which feat. BOMBINO, JALLY KEBBA SUSSO, SEKOUBA BAMBINO, KANDA BONGO MAN, GHALIA BENALI, RISE KAGONA of Bhundu Boys, COCO MBASSI, SAMY BISHAI, MAMANI KEITA, SOUSOU, MAHER CISSOKO, VOODOO FUNK, ABDUL TEE-JAY, JUWON OGUNGBE and YAABA FUNK.
More info: http://www.joyfulnoise.co.uk
You can buy King Ayisoba’s LPs on the Cafe Oto website – http://otoroku.cafeoto.co.uk/