I was sad to learn about the death on January 14th of Gambian Kora master Dembo Konte aged 71. I did not know him well but I do have a wonderful memory of my wife and I picking him and his musical partner Kausu Kuyateh up from a Central London train station after they had performed at the Brugges Festival, more than twenty years ago. It was a tight squeeze to get them and their two Koras into the car and they had to hold the instruments on their laps. It was rush hour and the usual gridlock. We sat in the traffic fuming at the delay but also chatting and laughing. There was a lull in the conversation and out of nowhere, jammed into the back seat as they were, the two of them began to play their Koras and sing an improvised praise song in honour of my wife Sandra who was driving! I will always be grateful for that wonderful moment; the combination of the London traffic contrasting with the beauty of the Kora played up close and the joyous humour of their playful tribute. Thank you Dembo Konte. You will be missed.
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Debashish in London
It was wonderful to see Debashish Bhattacharya play in London's South Bank Centre last Friday and to catch up with him over lunch in Borough market yesterday. Debashish has released six albums with Riverboat and his superb recent release 'Beyond the Ragasphere' was one of the albums which helped us win this year's WOMEX best independent world music label award. Thank you so much Debashish!
Debashish has returned to the USA to complete his North America tour. He will be back in the UK in May next year for a Making Tracks tour with his group including brother Subashish on tabla and daughter Anandi.
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