N'Goni Dub Trio at Summervale!

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By Zaidee H. Laughlin, Music Intern

If there’s one thing we like to do at the Intervale Center, it’s bring people together in support of good food and sustainability. In the summer this means hosting Summervale, an evening of celebration with local food, local drinks, and local music. Each Thursday this July and August we’re bringing in gems of the New England music scene, from bluesey singer-songwriters to afro-funk groups, like this week’s N’Goni Dub Trio.

Fronted by Burlington music powerhouse Craig Myers, the N’Goni Dub seeks to highlight the unique sound of the West African N’Goni, a harp-like string instrument. This time around, they are joined by guitarist Rob Compa of the New England-based rock band Dopapod.

I connected with Myers to ask him some questions about the group and the performance coming up:

The N'Goni Dub Trio and your larger band Barika both revolve around the distinct, ethereal sound of the West African N'Goni. In what ways do these projects differ, and in what ways are they necessarily similar?

N'goni Dub is an experience of improvised musical possibility. It is based on the familiar sounds and songs from the larger outfit Barika but much more open and experimental. We also have a different group of musicians which is often changing.

How did you find the N'Goni? What was it like to learn it and how have you found a balance of honoring its history and reinventing it with American influences?

I found the N'Goni while I was in Mali, West Africa studying percussion. It called to me from the first time I heard it being played. It was a great experience studying with my teacher in Mali Adama Coulibally. I would sit and practice for hours every day as well as tag along with Adama to traditional ceremonies and weddings where it is played often.

There are many different kinds of N’Goni. The original is called the Donso N’Goni or Hunter’s Harp. The one that I play is called the Kamel N’Goni (or Young Person’s Harp). The Kamel N’Goni was created in the 60's by young people who loved the sounds of the Donso N’Goni but were unable to change its style because of the Traditions of the Donso (hunter) culture. Thus they made the Kamel Ngoni. Now they were able to make it their own and integrate it into the music of pop culture, adding dance beats and otherwise. I like to think with Barika, we keep a nice blend of the traditional sound as well as add other influences we have from western music. The result is an eclectic blend crossing many musical borders.

Tell me about the other band members that are going to be at Summervale and what they bring to the project.

The Summervale show will consist of myself (Craig Myers) on the Kamel N’Goni (Barika, Mike Gordon Band), Robinson Morse on upright bass (Vorzca Trio), Caleb Bronz on Drums (Barika) and Rob Compa on guitar (Dopapod)

What made Rob Compa so appealing as a guest for the Trio?

Rob Compa just recently moved to Burlington and moved into my house! I have always loved the way in which he improvises musically and with his living in my house it seemed only logical to collaborate.


Come by the Intervale Center this Thursday at 5:30 to hear the N’Goni Dub Trio live on the Summervale stage!

Abby Portman