On Saturday, Sept. 11, Grammy winner Count M’Butu and his Zoo Krewe, along with Kevin ‘Kalimbaman’ Spears put on a show at Tallgary’s (4 College St., Asheville, 772-1489).
Count M’Butu may come off, by name and by carriage, as an African King. In fact, the percussion — according to his bio, “was born Harold L. Jones in Georgia, 1945. As a young boy he sang in the church choir and from that moment on he could see the sun, he knew that music would be in his future.”
From the Count’s Facebook page: “In the late eighties the Count met underground legend Col. Bruce Hampton. Col. Hampton has worked with other well-known musicians such as the infamous Frank Zappa and Chuck Leavell. The first time Col. Hampton met the Count he proclaimed he shall be called Count M’Butu. That was the first of many synchronicities. You see, the family that the Count lived with in Africa was called M’Butu but there was no way that Col. Hampton could have known that. The Count claims that Col. Hampton was like his lucky rabbit’s foot. It was a meeting that was meant to be.
“The following five years were dedicated to recording and touring with the legendary Col. Bruce Hampton & the Aquarium Rescue Unit. The band played in front of thousands of fans all over the U.S. and was a staple on The Horde Tour, composed of various bands such as Blues Traveler and The Spin Doctors … In 1995 the band broke up and the Count pursued a solo career.
“In 1999 the Count signed with Terminus Records and finished producing his long awaited solo-debut, See The Sun – featuring Graciela Lopez. The Album was released in March 2001 … Count M’Butu has been the mysterious sixth member of The Derek Trucks Band for the last six or more years … the Derek Trucks Band celebrated their first Grammy win taking home the 2010 award for ‘Best Contemporary Blues Album for their latest release, Already Free.
“Currently the Count is enjoying a little break living in Atlanta, and continues to teach his unique style of hand drumming. He’s also busy with a number of different projects including the bluegrass-fusion inspired M’Butu’s Zoo Krewe and Rhythm Nomadic, his percussive collaboration with Kalimba virtuoso Kevin ‘Kalimbaman’ Spears.”
There’s actually another ‘Kalimbaman’ out there: Tie-dye wearer Scotty ‘Kalimbaman’ Hayward. But Spears, according to his bio, is “conisdered by many as one of the best kalimba players alive today.” The bio goes on to note, “The kalimba / sanza is an African instrument derived from the ancient musical instrument originating in Zimbabwe (Southern Africa) called mbira. This class of musical instruments (lamellophone) contains metal, bamboo or wooden strips (keys/tines) that are fastened atop a small acoustic resonating body. The sanza / kalimba is known throughout Africa by many names including likembe, ikembe, kisanji, kongoma, and a bass version used in the Carribean called marimbula.”