“If you close your eyes, you’d never know!” exclaimed members of Kenyan band Sauti Sol, commenting on the contrast between the authentic sounds of the Afrocentric band and their deceiving appearance. Bamako Airlines is composed of eight veteran musicians with backgrounds in a variety of genres, who are all drawn to the polyrhythmic, electric nature of Afropop.
Meera Chandy is a trained vocalist in Indian classical music, and grasps the trills and pentatonic scales of Afropop with ease. She was initially introduced to the genre over a decade ago, where she, along with trumpeter and arranger Brian Carr, joined an Afropop ensemble at The University of Texas at Austin. Guitarist Chris Vestre, of Torch fame, also leads his own critically lauded jazz ensemble, and is a founding member of the White Horse Orchestra. Bill Anderson, an Austin Music Hall of Fame guitarist, brings his Blues/Rock background to the stage, while also plugging in with Churchwood. Doug Marcis is an accomplished drummer, who played with Austin’s Ivory Ghost, as well as The Hello Lollies. Latin influences also permeate Bamako Airlines through Greg Goodman, veteran bassist of Sexto Sol and Kiko Villamizar. Hailing from Conakry, Guinea, master percussionist Aboubacar Sylla attacks the polyrhythms of Afropop with a constant grin. Together, the unique group strive to bring the authentic sounds of music from various regions of Africa to Central Texas.