Grand Opening Markus James & The Wassonrai & Billy Jones Band in Oklahoma City Sept 28.
Markus James and the Wassonrai will bring their upbeat blend of African and American Delta music to the stage. The performance, part of a genre called desert blues practiced by nomadic groups of the Sahara, is in a style considered the root of the American blues genre. Instrumentation features the Kameme n’goni, an eight-stringed hunter’s harp of the Wassoulou people, the krurbu and njarka violin that is played by the Sonrai people, and the calabash and Bolon, a three-stringed gourd bass. Vocals alternate between Bambara, Sonrai and English, with North Mississippi-style trance riffs, singing and rapping in English and Bambara, mixed with harmonica and long jams.
Opening the the show will be The Billy Jones Band from Arkansas. Born in the Deep South, band leader Billy Jones grew up in his grandfather's bar, listening to blues in different juke joints and bars. Among his influences are Elmore James, Big Joe Turner, Jackie Wilson, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke and other great blues and soul musicians. His band boasts a repertoire that encompasses a number of musical styles.