Oumou Sangare, Toumani Diabate, Vusi Mahlesela, Anania Ngoliga, Bassekou Kouate, D’Gary, and many more
Label: Rounder Records
In 2005 the Flecktones had decided to take a year off, for the first time since we had started full time touring in 1990. I was thinking about projects that I’d want to do that I didn’t have time to do properly in a typical Flecktone year. I had long dreamed about the idea of going to Africa, where the banjo originally came from, and connecting with the acoustic musicians that I knew were there. It wasn’t til I heard Oumou Sangare’s music wafting from the back of the Flecktones bus one night after a show that the idea took hold in a serious way. I went to the back to investigate the remarkable sounds that Jeff Coffin was playing on his computer, and I fell in love. Not with Jeff, with Oumou! Now I had heard African acoustic music that I could relate to, and imagine myself within, I started thinking seriously about making a trip there on our off year. Folks at Sony got excited about the idea, and insisted that I film it. So I asked my brother Sascha if he’d want to direct a film over there, and he was way into it. We locked in a couple of great engineers (doc sound, and music recording) a great cinematographer and found field producers in each country. The trip was on! Two months before the trip, Sony backed out. Tickets were already bought, everyone was holding the time – it was too late to turn back now. I had to fund the very expensive trip myself. Another side story – a friend of mine had taken on the IRS in a massive battle. I had been subpoenaed as a material witness for the prosecution! And the court date had now been set up for when I was supposed to be in Africa! Lawyers advised me to cancel my trip, as I would become a law breaker if I didn’t show up – and they might lock me up when I came back into the country. I decided to roll the dice and go. At the last minute the trial was postponed and I didn’t go to jail. And neither did my friend. So everything worked out great. We went to Mali, The Gambia, Uganda and Tanzania, and had amazing musical adventures – which we caught on film and audio tape. It became Throw Down Your Heart. I decided that if this wasn’t a Tale from the Acoustic Planet, nothing was! So it also became became Tales From The Acoustic Planet, vol 3.