Sotho Sounds show Junk Funk brings African music to 2013 Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Tin cans, oil drums and home-made instruments make for high-NRG township jive
This article is from 2013.
In recent years, homemade instruments have brought unusual sounds to records by Staff Benda Bilili (marvel at Roger Landu’s wild, electrified one-string lute) and Konono No.1 (kalimbas run through buzzing amplifiers). The latest DIY instrument builders to make a splash are southern Africa’s Sotho Sounds – set to keep Edinburgh dancing in August. Hailing from the mountainous kingdom of Lesotho, the members are shepherds who took to fashioning instruments from recycled materials. Tin cans and scrap wood are transformed into 4-string guitars and violins, while oil drums and bottle tops become percussion instruments. The musicians' gumboots also serve as percussion instruments, carrying on the dance tradition started by South African miners and made famous worldwide by Paul Simon on Graceland.
Drawing on the choral music traditions of Lesotho, township jive, reggae and funk, Sotho Sounds first brought their rich vocals and infectious rhythms to Western audiences at Womad ten years ago. Asked how their lives have changed since that UK debut, manager Risenga Makondo explains, ‘We have picked up new artistic ideas along the way. This change has been a big surprise to a lot of people and us. This is our first time in Scotland and we are looking forward to it’.
Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, 3–26 Aug (not 14), 1.30pm, £9–£11 (£8–£10). Previews 31 Jul–2 Aug, £6.