Donal Dineen & Niwel Tsumbu
Sunday, December 26
Admission: €7 before 11pm / €10 after
As the affable presenter of the much loved Today FM show The Small Hours, Donal Dineenhas been responsible for introducing a myriad range of new exciting alternative music to Irish listeners.
A former presenter on the much-missed RTE television series No Disco, Dineen has sincegone on to curate music festivals, including the Body & Soul arena at the 2008 ElectricPicnic and the Fresh Air mini-festival in 2009, which shone the spotlight on emerging Irish talents.
His own tastes can only be described as eclectic. The Small Hours playlist reads not so muchlike a ‘who’s-who’, but a ‘what’s-what’ of diverse music genres, with Dineen skippingeffortlessly between avant-garde hip-hop, experimental electronica, funky Afro-beat,the deepest dub-step, exciting new directions in modern composition, exotic world andtraditional music, folk, indie soul and countless other varieties that can so often fall betweenthe gapping cracks of today’s music journalism without ever getting its due recognition.
He’s also become a favourite on the live circuit whether he’s just hauling his considerablemusic collection around the country for solo shows, or being joined by friends for a livehootenanny. It’s the latter that Cork folks will be treated to when Dineen comes to thePavilion for the Electric Underground St Stephens night special.
Joining him on the night is Congolese born, Cork based Niwel Tsumbu. His fluid guitar-playing reveals a rich tapestry of various styles and cultural reference points, including themusic of his homeland (Soukous and Rhumba) – describing the sound and the dominantfeatures, as well as the unique characteristics of the music offers a history lesson in theprocess and an insight into what makes Niwel tick.
There’s 430 different tribes in Congo and they all play different music and speak differentlanguages so it’s very hard to get an overall view even when you’re there. There’s someplaces where cameras and cars have never been, and music there that never migrated tothe cities. I grew up in Kinshasa, the capital, and I had the chance to go on holidays to thevillages which is where I got to explore a lot of different traditional stuff.
The traditional music would be very raw, there’s a lot of drumming and also stringinstruments – likembe, a one-stringed gourd mainly used on the West coast and banjo andguitar of course… there were so many but I never knew the names, probably some never hadnames. And marimba, a kind of wooden xylophone.
So out of the traditional tribal music came Rhumba – it’s more contemporary, it cameto Congo and brought different instruments in the 1920s and 30s – electric guitar camealong, and saxophones were brought by the Belgians and missionaries. There was a Cubaninfluence, that’s where the name Rhumba came from. It brought new styles of guitar playingand singing as well as song structure. In traditional music the people played for three or fourhours in a kind of trance – the Rhumba was more short, snap,three minute songs and radiofriendly.
And then out of Rhumba the new generation came in the late 50s early 60s of young peoplewho wanted fast rhythmic music because Rhumbas are kind of slow. So they just sped it up,added bass and drum kit and it became Soukous, but still with intricate spiraling guitar. Therewas a new style of singing as well which we call Atalaku, it’s kind of between singing andrapping, kind of screaming, you know like a DJ or an MC?”
The duo had previously paired up at Electric Picnic in 2009, and again for two shows (witha full band line-up) at the Body & Soul Festival in 2010. They are set to enter the studio inJanuary 2011 to record material, while Tsumbu will also release his new record in March 2011.
Tsumbu has been a resident of Cork since 2004, during which time he has embedded himselfin the local music scene. As a member of the Niwel Tsumbu duo, Sumu, Jazzmu Motema,and the Clear Sky Ensemble, Niwel has brought Congo’s traditional sensibilities to Cork earsthrough a variety of styles, from jazz to funk to full-on ethno tribal rhythms.
“Working with Niwel over the past year has been a great thrill for me,” said Donal. “Iwould regard him as one of the best musicians I’ve ever come across. His versatility alone isastounding. I’m very excited at the prospect of going into the studio to record with him. Forthis gig in The Pavilion we’ll be trying out a lot of the ideas we plan to put on tape in January. I’m delighted to get the chance to bring Niwel with me for a rare show in Cork where Niwelis deservedly regarded as a hometown hero. Joe Doyle will be joining us on percussion forthe gig also. It promises to be a great night.”
Donal, who is also a renowned photographer and filmmaker, and Tsumbu will also beaccompanied by a full visual show which will no doubt add to the exotic and constantly changing sounds emerging from the stage. It should make for an ideal post-Christmas day rave-up.