Saturday, August 22, 2009

SUMMER TOUR '09 - Part 4: London / Youssou NDour's show

Just returned to Los Angeles after six glorious weeks out in the world: touring, performing, singing, dancing! This is part 4

Arriving back from Dakar, I was tempted to push my entire suitcase into the washing machine in London. But luckily, a gigantic bag of café touba offset the smell of clothes that had been danced and sweated in for two heavenly weeks.

Another quick turn around. The next morning, I was BACK at Heathrow, but this time waiting for my 9-year-old daughter, Koyan, who had braved a 10 hour flight from Los Angeles to have two weeks with me in London and France. We were SO HAPPY to see one another after a month apart! She cheerfully told me she had neeearly made it, but barfed on the descent when the plane was in a holding pattern. I just LOVE her!

The next week, we pin-balled around London, seeing the sights, visiting friends, sampling the city’s awesome parks, cafes, bus routes, nooks and crannys. So much fun!

At the amazing new Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground
ashley koyan

The one Saturday I was in London, Youssou Ndour was playing at Indigo (ALHAMDOULILAH!). Koyan stayed with friends and I went alone … and early. Once inside, I sat by the wall on the nearly empty floor and just watched the place fill steadily. Anyone who loves Youssou’s music is my instant friend. Soon, I was chatting to one person after another. A young man recognized me from performing at Bercy ’08 and told me sincerely that my dancing was “grave,” (love that!). Finally, Youssou came on. Oh, he and Les Super Etoiles threw down a wonderful show.

Backstage with YOUSSOU NDOUR after his show in London
ashley maher,youssou ndour,youssou n'dour

I was particularly excited to see dancer Pape Moussa Sonko from up front. I had only seen him in videos or from the side of the stage. His dancing is so creative, powerful, fun, and effortless ... What a Master!

with Divine Dancer PAPE MOUSSA SONKO
ashley maher,pape moussa sonko

A few songs into the show, everyone onstage had spotted me. I was down front to the side dancing with a pile of hilarious SeneGambians who I’d just met. Every new song would bring on an eruption of fresh enthusiasm from the floor.

When they played the song I co-wrote for Youssou, Boul Bayekou, he called me up onto the stage. The security guard said. “No way!” until I pointed behind him. He turned to see Youssou emphatically pointing at me to say, “Get her up here NOW!” . . . Oh. . . . The guard helped me up onto the stage himself! I turned to the audience, adjusted my hat with a smile to make sure it wouldn’t fall off, and solo-ed with total glee. Afterwards? … more dancing, of course!

When the show was over, there was a rush for the backstage, but an excellent DJ was playing my fave mbalax, so I couldn’t tear myself away from the floor. Finally, Jimi Mbaye and Pape Moussa came out and they insisted I come backstage, so I did. Said Hello to everyone before more dancing outside.

WIth ABDOULAYE LO (drums) and BIRAME DIENG (backing vocals)
They both performed on my upcoming 5th CD.
(Love the pink backstage pass on my thigh!)

ashley maher,abdoulaye lo,abdoulaye low,birame dieng

It took 3 buses to get allll the way back across London that night. I met 10 SeneGambian students on the bus’ top deck and we chatted the whole way. Arrived home cold, tired, and happy at 5am! Vive Youssou N’dour et Les Super Etoiles de Dakarrrrr! Vive London!



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

1:52 PM

Blogger Ashley Maher said...

Jerejefate Waye!!! (Thank you so much! in Wolof)

2:01 PM


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