Bit by the African-music bug |

Bit by the African-music bug

Cassie Pence
Special to the DailyAphrodesia got recognition for its social activism (and its funky African rhythms) after its "Just Vote Tour," a nationwide voter-registration tour focusing primarily on swing states. Members drove from San Francisco to New York and back on a vegetable oil powered bus, playing gigs and signing people up to excercise their American right.

VAIL – Members of Aphrodesia are creating music of the world and trying to save it at the same time.The 12-member band travels the country via its vegetable oil powered bus. It’s Aphrodesia’s way of spreading the message about how important renewable energy is.The group’s music is an effect of being bit by the African-music bug. Members are infected with the mother land’s rhythm, polyrhythm and traditional song. The band weaves sounds from Cuba, Brazil and the Caribbean into its sonic tapestry, as well, along with the musicians’ personal influences, like jazz, Afrobeat, Highlife and funk, to create an original brand of world music.

“I like the rhythms and the ability that they have to evoke people into dancing. We’re a dance band. We get everybody dancing,” guitarist David Sartore said. Sartore studied music of Ghana and Zimbabwe. On guitar, it’s a lot of melodic and repetitive melodies. He’s also the one that researched and bought the converted city transit bus.Ezra Gale (bass) and lead vocalist Lara Maykovich gave birth to the San Francisco band in 2003. Mayakovich, who studied in Boulder, lived in Ghana and Zimbabwe in ’97 and ’98, where she studied and performed with members of Akrowa Dance Ensemble of Ghana, Hewale Sounds of Ghana, Ghana National Dance Company and National Music and Dance Company of Zimbabwe. Her vocals add authenticity to Aprhrodesia’s sound.”It (living in Africa) really opened up my voice. I love the rhythm, the dance. I really got into the folklore and mythology of African traditions,” Mayakovich said. “Our sound is very original, but we try to respect the traditional forms of rhythm.”The group performs classic, fun African songs that are traditionally played for special occasions, and they also perform songs with deeper rhythms that are from old-earth pagan religions.

Vocalists sing some songs in African languages Ga and Ewe, but the band also writes its own English lyrics, which are often politically charged and sung over Afrobeat. The band likes to dress in costumes and the three vocalists lead the crowd to dance.”Music is a vessel for political and social change. Right now, we are really fired up about the war in Iraq,” said vocalist Nicole Rodriguez.”I really feel heartbroken that we’re in Iraq,” Maykovich added. “I really don’t think war is a solution.”But renewable energy is, which is why the band practices what it preaches.

Tonight’s high-energy show at 8150 begins at 10. For more information, call the club at 479-0607.Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or cpence@vaildaily.comVail Colorado

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