Panjea’s world beats come to Vail Wednesday |

Panjea’s world beats come to Vail Wednesday

Daily staff report
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the DailyPanjea will play a free concert in Vail Wednesday starting at 6 p.m.

VAIL, Colorado ” The music will set the stage Wednesday evening as musical and spiritual journeyman Chris Berry, alongside Michael Kang and the multi-cultural ensemble Panjea, bring their powerful groove and socially conscious message to Checkpoint Charlie in Vail Village for the next installment of the 2009 Bud Light Free Concert Series.

So who is Chris Berry? First of all, he is one of the living masters of African drumming, with roots in both hand percussion, based on studying the sacred ngoma drum in an isolated Congo village, and the mbira, or “thumb piano,” whose honey-toned tines stir something deep in the soul.

Leaving his home in California at the age of 18, Berry relocated to South Africa with his mentor, forming Panjea in the process. Rooted deeply in African culture, the band’s revolutionary mix of indigenous music, dance hall and hip-hop has earned Panjea extensive success throughout Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

Berry’s tireless dedication and unmatched skill led him to become one of the first Westerners to be accepted among the mbira masters as one of their own. Positive influences feed the sound of Panjea, from Bob Marley to Sting, but it is the African connection that fuels the band’s mission.

“Africa is the source for almost all the popular music of the world,” Berry said. “You can hear it in blues, rock and roll, funk, hip-hop and jazz. I’ve just found a more direct line to the source. I’ve got the medicine and it’s pure and strong.”

Following the edict to make a difference in the world, Berry and Panjea continue to preach the positive message of hope and peace through infectious cultural rhythms and danceable beats. Contributing to Amnesty International, Flyways and their own Panjea Foundation for Cultural Education, the group has become a nonprofit organization in their own right.

“Music is the medicine. World is the patient. We are the doctors,” sings Berry on “Are You Ready For This?”

All Bud Light Street Beat free concerts start at 6 p.m. at either Checkpoint Charlie in Vail Village or at the Arrabelle at Vail Square in Lionshead. Concert-goers are encouraged to dress appropriately for the outdoor performances, with food and beverages available for purchase at each show.

In addition to the free concert, Eagle, Lake and Summit County residents can register to win the season-long grand prize as Volvo Cars of North American will give away a 2009 Volvo C-30 to one lucky local at the final concert on April 15.

Out of town guests can also win a return vacation trip to Vail with deluxe accommodations. The Volvo Vail Grand Prize Guest Giveaway will also be awarded at the final free performance.

The Bud Light Street Beat free concert series continue next month with performances by Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band on March 4, The Indulgers on March 11, the special American Ski Classic show at Golden Peak with Taj Mahal on March 19 and John Brown’s Body on March 25. Additional free shows are slated for April 1, 8 and 15.

For additional information on Bud Light Street Beat, visit

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