Left to right: Drew Heller, Justin Kimmel, Justin Perkins, Terrence Houston, Luke Quaranta (photo by Kenny Appelbaum)
Some music cannot be found on a map or within iTunes categories. Some music is so original it seems snatched from the great, invisible substrata that runs below all human activity, a sound aching to be born without a flag or fixed allegiance – free, questing, overflowing with immediate, tangible life. This is the music of Toubab Krewe, the vibrant Asheville, NC-based instrumental powerhouse that creates a sonic Pangaea that lustily swirls together rock, African traditions, jam sensibilities, international folk strains and more. While nearly impossible to put into any box, it takes only a few moments to realize in a very palpable way that one is face-to-face with a true original who recognizes no borders in a march towards a muscular, original, globally switched-on sound.
Formed in 2005, Toubab Krewe has tenaciously honed their craft through relentless touring and a fierce dedication to carving out something they can truly call their own. The fruits of this hard work can be heard on their latest release, STYLO, (March 2nd, 2018). What Justin Perkins (Kora, Kamelngoni, guitar, percussion), Terrence Houston (drumset), Drew Heller (guitar, organ), Justin Kimmel (bass, keys), and Luke Quaranta (Djembe, Congas, Dundun, Sangban, Kinkini) have wrought on STYLO reflects the many miles and musical journeys that have transpired since their last studio album, TK2.
This is a band that actively draws inspiration from whatever source floats into their purview, something they've exhibited in their decade and a half of heavy gigging, including regular appearances at major U.S. festivals like Bonnaroo, High Sierra, Rothbury and Wakarusa, and abroad at such legendary gatherings as the Festival In The Desert in Essakane, Mali. Whether on their own or collaborating with luminaries like the Last Poets' Umar Bin Hassan or Uncle Earl's Rayna Gellert, Toubab Krewe has already earned the attention and respect of a broad musical community.
Toubab carries echoes of African greats like Ali Farka Toure, Orchestra Baobab and Salif Keita, no doubt picked up during the group's travels to study and live in Guinea, Ivory Coast and Mali. But what truly differentiates Toubab Krewe from other Statesiders inspired by African music is how they innovate on what they've learned instead of simply recreating tradition. Toubab Krewe carves out a new trail honoring the African originators they admire by making something alive and contemporary.
"Toubab Krewe has such a visceral, ear-yanking quality that in the band's capable hands you just might find your definitions of what is/is not rock n' roll and worldbeat being completely rewritten. This is the sound of liberation." - Blurt
"a futuristic, psychedelic, neo-griot frenzy." - Village Voice
"a new standard for fusions of rock n' roll and West African music." - Afropop Worldwide
"one of the most innovative voices in music today." - Honest Tune
"Their music avoids cliché with authentic extrapolations of traditional Manding beats, percussion, and jam-band flare." - The New Yorker
"...expertly meshed surf guitar with Malian rhythmic patterns, a Dick Dale moves-to-Timbuktu experiment in Afro-California fusion." - The Boston Herald