“06880” does not usually promote Levitt Pavilion concerts. There are too many good ones — rock, jazz, military bands, kids’ shows, you name it — and by now, most people know how to find the shows they like.
But the Levitt does not usually showcase Gullah music. So here’s a little promo for this Saturday’s event (August 4, 8 p.m.).
And — because “06880” is “where Westport meets the world” — there’s a great local connection.
Ranky Tanky is the group you’ll want to hear. They celebrate Gullah culture — the unique evolution of West African slaves shipped to the South Carolina coast to work the low country rice plantations.
Because they were so skillful, the slaves were kept together — not separated, like those from other parts of Africa. The culture they created continues today.
Ranky Tanky celebrates Gullah life through spirituals, poems, children’s songs and lullabies, combining them with fresh, jazz-inflected music. It’s special, unique, and well worth seeing and hearing.
The band is hot. Their first album zoomed to #1 on the Billboard, Amazon and iTunes jazz charts. They’ve headlined the Spoleto Music Festival, played Carnegie Hall and been featured in Downbeat. Terry Gross interviewed them for “Fresh Air.”
But the world would not have heard about Ranky Tanky without the passion of a local couple.
Last year, Steve Ruchefsky and Rondi Charleston started Resilience Music Alliance. The goal is to empower artists and creators who explore, challenge and celebrate the human condition of (you guessed it) resilience.
Ranky Tanky — the name comes from a Gullah phrase meaning “work it” or “get down” — has performed all over the country, and are booked well into 2019.
During a summer when — thanks to a superb Historical Society exhibit –Westport is examining its African American past, and our town’s connection to slavery, Saturday’s Levitt Pavilion show is timely and important.
And if all that is not enough to draw you to the Levitt for Ranky Tanky, try this: