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Bokanté: Blues & Roots

Bokanté delivers musical and social unity during these divisive times

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Things didn’t exactly go smoothly for Bokanté during its Philadelphia debut, part of the Funk of Ages event at the Fillmore in June, when technical difficulties cut the group’s set nearly in half. Many a newborn band—this was only the ninth show in its short history—would have walked away dejected. Then again, Bokanté is a new project founded by Snarky Puppy leader and bassist Michael League, who has logged more than a few miles and mishaps on the road with that tirelessly touring act. The eight-piece shrugged off the setback and roared through an abbreviated set, barely pausing between one electrified, desert-blues-fueled song and the next.

League met Guadeloupe-born singer Malika Tirolien in 2012, when the band she was then fronting, Groundfood, opened for Snarky Puppy in Montreal. He invited her to sing on the band’s Grammy-winning 2013 album Family Dinner—Volume 1, and she was the first name that came to mind when he decided to form a new project based on the blues diaspora, which brought together musicians from diverse cultures to create its groove-heavy world-music fusion. League and Tirolien discussed the band’s origins and intentions backstage after their set, before League had to retake the stage with Snarky Puppy. SHAUN BRADY

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