Heaven’s just a tune away – Saaraba
“I think the message in music is important. There’s a lot of crazy … going on in the world at the moment. Apart from the election when there was a little buzz, people are being very passive about it,” Danny Marks, vocalist and guitarist for New Orleans ska-funk-reggae band Saaraba, said.
Marks expounds his views with socially conscious lyrics.
Taking its name from a Senegalese dialect meaning ‘Utopia’ Saaraba are strong on their identity and all too aware of the plethora of funk and jambands that forget their messages and lose their ways during excitable moments onstage and ultimately in the minds of the audience. Noted for their high tempo fusion of various styles of music Marks is quick to put the ‘message’ aspect into perspective,
“It is important but at the same time I don’t want to be preached to.
That’s the good thing about reggae music: It’s very inviting and mellow. It draws people in. It’s like talking to them in a calm voice instead of screaming at them. You’re not going to do anything if someone is just screaming in your face. You’re more likely to listen to that calm voice.”
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“It’s also important to have an identity. People often call us reggae because our vocal songs are closer to reggae and people more easily identify with vocals and lyrics but they miss our instrumental songs. In a way we all have our influences and our styles and we act as filters for those influences to create something new and our own.”
The members of Saaraba are still young, both in physical ages and also in band terms, November will see the third anniversary of playing their first gig in Cafe Brazil in New Orleans come to pass.
The vocalist is upbeat about the future and aware of what the band needs to take the next step.
“We just want to keep playing together as a band, we need more time to practice and maybe a little more help with the admin side of things. It would be nice to get a little more money in so we’re practicing more than once a week. It’s very hard to make any money playing music in New Orleans unless you kind of sell out and just play to the tourists. If we had a little more money we wouldn’t have to worry about paying the bills and can concentrate on the band.”
A five piece who hang their hats in the Big Easy when they’re not on the road promoting their second album ‘Nudivinity’, Saaraba’s music is propelled along by trumpet and sax lines, guitar and bass chords and vocals. The drums come courtesy of Boyanna Trayanova, a musician Marks describes as, “One of the best drummers I’ve ever seen and definitely the best girl drummer I’ve ever seen.” The enthusiasm of being in a band and the passion felt for his chosen path is clear but there is hint of wariness present as well, of walking the path with eyes wide open.
“When I realized that I was playing music more than I was doing anything else it was then I knew I wanted to be in a band and do it for the rest of my life but it’s not very glamorous. We slept on a floor in a really small apartment and then had turkey sandwiches for breakfast. But we play New Orleans music and it’s what I want to do.”
Having never made it as far as Vail before on previous tours, Marks is rueful of a handful of missed opportunities last year,
“We played through Colorado last year for a couple of days and I realized at the time that we could have stayed for a couple of weeks. We were driving eight hours at a time to get to the next big place and we should have been stopping every two hours to play at all these mountain towns because they looked great. We played Boulder, Durango and Denver last time and we had a great time so this should be good for us.”
Ben Quirk is a contributing writer to the Vail Daily.