March 2007

Adam Solomon & Tikisa | Roots Rhythms CD Release
March 29, 2007Lula LoungeToronto
Releasing Roots Rhythms
by Tony Shivpershad with photos by John Leeson

Adam Solomon is a busy man. Recently he has contributed to the Juno Award winning African Guitar Summit I and the Juno Award nominated African Guitar Summit II. With his band, Tikisa, just eleven months after the release of their successful Mti Wa Maisha (Tree of Life) we find him releasing another smash album, Roots Rhythms, hence the reason for this appearance at Lula Lounge; to celebrate the release of the latest CD. The evening was comprised of three very different acts: Adam solo, palm wine music and capped off with the full force of Tikisa.

The night began with CBC personality Jowi Taylor presenting the Six String Nation Guitar to Adam. The Six String Nation Guitar is a very special instrument. It was the brainchild of Taylor back in 1995 and made its debut eleven years later on Canada Day.

It is constructed of 64 pieces of carefully selected wood, rock and bone. Each piece shares a special story in the history Canada. Within the pieces that comprise the guitar one will find wood from Pierre Trudeau's canoe paddles, parts of hockey sticks belonging to Wayne Gretzky — the greatest hockey player ever — as well as Paul Henderson — scorer of the most famous goal in Canadian hockey history, part of the deck of the Bluenose II and many more important artifacts from across the country.

On this night, Taylor would unveil some special fabrics used in the guitar’s case — Pierre Berton's bowtie and Don Cherry's pants. The guitar travels the country and is played by many of Canada's premier guitarists. In presenting the instrument to Solomon for his use at the show, Taylor told the crowd, "The six string guitar is a thing of beauty, most beautiful when being played. Tonight, I invite Adam Solomon and Tikisa to bring life to this guitar".

Solomon took the stage alone, strapped on the Six String Nation Guitar and took a seat on the stage with a "Jambo" (Welcome). The night began with “Baraka” and “Bua”, two new songs found on the Roots Rhythms CD. Solomon delivered them looking solemn and singing with great conviction, punctuating his song with his usual flow up and down the fret board of the guitar.

After the second song, Solomon declared his wish for African Guitar Summit to take their second Juno Award a few days later. Someone in the audience answered back, "In sha' Allah." The Arabic term means, "If God is willing". As it turned out, He was not.

The tempo picked up a bit with “Fisherman's Blues”, also from Roots Rhythms and it was indeed a pleasure to hear Solomon play African Blues again, as his focus in recent years has shifted from blues to African soukous. At the conclusion of the song, Solomon thanked Jowi Taylor for bringing the Six String Nation guitar and allowing him to play it, saying that it made the night perfect.

Adam Solomon & Jowi Taylor

The next chapter of the evening was Palm-Wine music; it featured two of Adam Solomon’s band mates from the African Guitar Summit, Pa Joe on electric guitar and Theo yaw Boakye on percussion. Palm-wine music proved to be as nice and laid back as it sounds. It is a fusion of African, European and calypso sounds. It is named after a drink made from the fermented sap of the oil palm tree, which was drunk at gatherings where early African guitarists played.

The two musicians played four pieces together; Boakye hammered out funky percussive beats while Pa Joe added sweet slide guitar rhythms. The final piece of this set employed a drum machine to complement Boyake's percussion.

Tikisa then took the stage for the night's finale. They played “Ua Jasmine”, “Adi Fundi” and “Ukuti Ukuti” from the new album with all ten of the musicians playing frenetic drums and singing.

The band then picked up their respective instruments for a set which featured songs from the 2006 CD Mti Wa Maisha (Tree of Life). The incomparable rhythm guitarist Cesco Emmanuel graciously stepped aside, as the equally talented Donné Roberts, another guest musician from the African Guitar Summit, joined the band.


Solomon’s signature fiesta guitar had the audience members on the dance floor. The next song saw Donné Roberts switch from rhythm to bass guitar and had Nancy Barrett throwing glow-in-the-dark bracelets to the revelers on the dance floor.

Just when it felt like the party couldn't get any hotter, the climax of the evening came when the band took a request from the audience for “Malaika”, an East African standard that had everyone on the floor singing and dancing, even though it was a song that Tikisa had never even rehearsed before.

The band left the stage, but the audience was not ready to leave yet. The crowd willed Tikisa back to the stage for “Rikata” the final number of the night, which was performed a capella as a night cap.

Tikisa is
Adam Solomon (Kenya) – Lead guitar, lead vocals, composer
Chester Manoharan (Canada) – Bass guitar
Cesco Emmanuel (Trinidad) – Rhythm guitar
Nancy Barrett (Canada) – Percussion, back-up vocals
Emmanuel "Fulani" Mutsune (Kenya) – Back-up vocals
Suleiman Juma (Kenya) – Keyboards
Walter MacLean (Germany/Ghana) – Drumkit/Djembe
Tamsir Seck (Senegal) – Percussion/Djembe
Marcus Chonsky (Canada) – Percussion/Congas

Muhtadi Thomas – percussion (featured on Roots Rhythms)
Donné Roberts (Madagascar) – guitar (from African Guitar Summit)
Pa Joe (Ghana) – guitar (from African Guitar Summit)
Theo yaw Boakye (Ghana) – vocals (from African Guitar Summit)

We welcome your comments and feedback
Tony Shivpershad
• • • • • •
John Leeson
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The Live Music Report

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