Digital Rebroadcast: Balla Kouyaté, Mike Block, and Friends
Boston to Bamako: West African and American collaborations

This digital concert originally premiered December 1, 2022, and will be available as a re-broadcast on December 7, 2023 for 90 days.

Malian American artist Balla Kouyaté is part of a long unbroken family line of musicians, praise-singers, and oral historians who celebrate and keep vital the culture of the Malinké people of West Africa. Playing a balafon – the West African antecedent of the xylophone – Kouyaté makes his Celebrity Series debut and shares the stage with boundary-defying cellist Mike Block and other equally daring musical friends.  

The six-piece band comes together to create a program of joyous, effervescent music that blends West African beats (courtesy of Kouyaté and percussionists Dembele and Kone) and vocals with bluegrass, funk, and rock. Block and Kouyaté lead the band in a program that celebrates international sounds and cross-cultural collaboration.  

This performance is part of our Neighborhood Arts Global Percussion Series.  

Balla Kouyaté balafon 

Mike Block cello 

Sekou Dembele  djembe/vocals 

Idrissa Kone talking drum/calabash/percussion/vocals 

Luke Okerlund electric guitar 

Mike Rivard bass/sintir