Kan’Nal blends rock/dance
A Kan’Nal show is not like most rock shows: Sure, the musicians get wild ‘n’ crazy on their instruments, but you’ve also got two dedicated dancer/performance artists spinning blades and donning antlers in a frenzied tribute to an ancient Mayan forest spirit. The guitar blares louder, the drums thump hard and as the singer yells and whirls, the multi-cultural crowd stomps their feet, lost in the trance as well. Welcome to the Kan’Nal tribe.”I think we always wanted to make a show that was more interactive – something that’s more of an experience,” says Kan’Nal co-founder and singer Tzol. “The idea is to make a multi-sensual experience. The audio is happening, we’re burning incense for odors in the air and the visual design and dance just brings everyone into it. We always want to develop more ways for people to get involved; the idea is to walk the line between order and chaos.”Whether you believe in spiritual fate or not, the beginnings of Kan’Nal bear the marks of mystical fortuitousness. Tzol, originally from Huntsville, Texas, was backpacking through Guatemala and Mexico in search of something greater than American throwaway materialism when he happened upon Tierro, the band’s lead guitarist, on the shores of Lake Atitlan. The two backpacker musicians formed an immediate bond, but things got really spooky when they went back almost one year later to the day and met bassist Rodolfo and performance artist Teresita. Rodolfo brought in his friend Gilly Gonzalez on drums, and after the band met percussionist/didgeridoo player Arron Jerard in the Yucatan peninsula and second performing artist Akayate in Colorado, the lineup solidified.”Each of us were on our backpacking journeys when we met – the muse was just down,” Tzol says. “It felt very magical – I feel like we’ve got our family and our musical tribe really tight.”
Because of their earthy roots and tribal sound, Kan’Nal often gets lumped in with the jam band scene, but they don’t fit the description. Rather than extended solos, their music finds roots in tribal beats and psychedelic rock riffs, which the group rides into trancey, pulsing crescendos. The band strives to conjure both the primal intimacy of dancing around a neolithic fire and the epic, communal singalongs of a U2 concert.”There’s a lot of jam fans that love what we do, but we cross into other realms as well,” Tzol says. “It’s definitely a mission of mine to let people know we’re not a bluegrassy jam band – we have electric guitar and loud, pounding drums.”Another mission of Kan’Nal’s remains staying connected to the Guatemalan origins that inspired the band – the name “Kan’Nal” is itself a conflation of the Mayan words for “snake” and “corn,” which hold spiritual significance in that culture. (“Canal” also conveniently means “channel” in Spanish). To maintain this Central American connection, the Denver-based band makes yearly pilgrimages to Mexico and Central America, and they recently played a concert set amid the Mayan ruins of Tikal for a winter solstice festival.”Playing in front of the pyramids was just legendary,” says Tzol. “Our connection with that place is so powerful, and we were fortunate enough to know people who know people, and it was really something special.”Kan’Nal’s new record, which they hope to release in the summer, reflects on this connection and the Mayan’s greater connection to the earth, which Kan’Nal shares.”We want to use this record to present that our music isn’t world music – it’s earth music,” Tzol says. ” I usually write about the earth, skies, oceans and things going on that are very destructive to them. There are better ways to live on the planet and love the planet; that’s why I’m so drawn to Mexico and Guatemala. People there have a stronger connection to the earth beyond materialism, and it creates a whole other vibe.”
“I want to remind people that it’s all about balance. The planet needs us, man – all of us.”Arts &Entertainment writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or email@example.com.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado
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