Friday, February 17, 2017

Sinkane at the Bowery Ballroom

Ahmed Gallab was  born to college professors in London, England, but in short time the family relocated to Omdurman, Sudan, where his father became a politician in his native land. Ahmed was five years old in 1989 when his father took the family from Sudan to Provo, Utah. The move was supposed to be temporary, but a coup overthrew the Sudanese government, the elder Gallab lost his position, and political colleagues started "disappearing." The Gallab family eventually settled in Ohio, but the teenagers visited Sudan every summer vacation. Ahmed started playing music in a band while in grade school in Utah, joined the Ohio punk scene in his teens, and by his early 20s was the touring drummer for indie bands Of Montreal, Caribou and Yeasayer. Sinkane, a name Gallab adapted from Joseph Cinqué, leader of the Amistad rebellion, is both his alter ego and the name of his touring band. Currently, Sinkane is based in Brooklyn, New York, and released a sixth album, Life & Livin' It, on February 10, 2017.

At the Bowery Ballroom tonight, members of opening act No BS! Brass Band did double duty as backing musicians for Sinkane. Gallab led the nine-piece band featuring vocalist Amanda Khiri, keyboardist Elenna Canlas, lead guitarist Jonny Lam, bassist Michael "Ish" Montgomery, drummer Jason "Jaytram" Trammell, and three members of No BS! Brass Band, Reggie Pace, Sam Koff, and Jason Arce. The selections including older songs ("Jeeper Creeper", "Young Trouble") and new songs ("U'huh", "Passenger", "Telephone", "Deadweight") first tested live at a residency at Union Pool in Brooklyn in 2016. Gallab led the smooth and soulful singing, amplified often by leads and harmonies from other band members. The set rocked, in large part propelled by Lam's licks, but also grasped firmly onto the rhythm section's fluid funk patterns and Canlas' synth-heavy Afro-electro grooves. The extended musical breaks often aligned with free jazz, yet emphasized light and bouncy pop melodies. The total effect was a combination of world music and American jam band. Sinkane offered a very unique blend of music over the course of nearly two hours.

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