Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang and Their Eternal-Now Jams
by Dave Segal
on Sat, Jul 21, 2012 at 12:10 AM
If anybody can pull off a grass skirt...
You can get the gist of some bands after a few songs. Such is the case with Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang. Led by the lean, dreadlocked, grass-skirted Janka Nabay, considered a pioneer of the Sierra Leonean genre of bubu, the group lock into bustling, undulating, timeless grooves that really have no beginnings or endings and could conceivably roll on forever—or until the drugs euphoria wear(s) off.
Destined for a VICE "Do" any day now.
Nabay’s backing band—composed of hip young American musicians in outfits like Skeletons, Gang Gang Dance, and Starring—generate upful jams with guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards that replicate bamboo cane flutes and metal pipes that sound like warped xylophones. Janka possesses a gruff yet cheerful voice, which he uses to sing in his native language and in semi-busted English. When he screams, which is not infrequently, he lacks the lung power of James Brown and Wilson Pickett (but who doesn’t?). No matter. Janka cuts a delightful Lee "Scratch" Perry-esque figure onstage and his trousers—featuring little, stylized maps of Africa—are to die for. David Byrne’s a fan (he signed Janka to his Luaka Bop label), and you should be, too.