Man of the People 

Alpha YaYa Diallo returns to the Boot Pub

alphayayadiallo.jpg

Who: Alpha YaYa Diallo

Where: Boot Pub

When: Monday, Jan. 17

One of the Boot Pub’s most popular visiting players returns this Monday.

Guinea-born African World Music guitar master Alpha YaYa Diallo is making his yearly trip up the Sea to Sky Highway from Vancouver to throw down a set of his famous afro-funk riffs.

Since his last visit in February 2004, Diallo has had a banner year. He toured Europe and was once again a fixture on Canada’s summer jazz and folk festival circuit. He recorded his fifth full-length album and also took part in a CBC recording project called the African Guitar Summit. The project brought together a group of renowned African-born Canadian kings of the six-string at Toronto’s Glenn Gould Theatre for both a live performance recording and a subsequent studio recording released this past November.

The artist’s latest album – Djama – was also completed last November but won’t be released until Feb. 14. Boot-goers this Monday will get a live sneak peak at some of the songs but won’t be able to obtain the album until the official release date.

The title means "the people" in the Northwest African Fulani language, Guinean-born Diallo’s mother tongue. "Everything is about the people," Diallo explains. "People are the ones who listen to music."

He describes the new work as a more traditional sound – less contemporary blues/rock this time around with an even greater emphasis on African roots. With the exception of electric guitar and bass Djama is exclusively acoustic, making use of a host of guest collaborators from Europe and San Francisco on traditional instruments.

Even in his more rock and blues-influenced compositions, Diallo has prided himself on remaining steadfastly connected to his roots.

"In the studio, I’m very careful with what I do, because I identify myself as an African musician and I want to keep myself that way," he has said.

But even with a more introspective, traditional focus, Diallo’s songs will never lose their infectious dancehall groove, which is what has endeared him to his fans in Whistler and the rest of the world over the years.

With the impending demise of the Boot Pub after the property’s sale to Cressey Developments in 2003, this is very likely the last time his funky-afro guitar rhythms will ever bounce off the intimate Boot walls. A repeat player at the illustrious pub over the years, Diallo is allowing himself to get a little sentimental.

"It’s very sad when a musician hears a club is closing down," he says. "It’s contributed to my career. We’ve met people, we’ve sold CDs we’ve had a drink and we’ve had fun. We’re going to miss the Boot if that happens. It’s very sad, but it’s not going to stop us going to Whistler."

Not too sentimental. You can crush his favourite venue, but you can’t keep a good guitar player down.

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