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Gullah band Ranky Tanky performs

September 13, 2017 11:40 am Updated: September 13, 2017 11:49 am

EAST MEREDITH — The West Kortright Centre, 49 West Kortright Church Road, East Meredith, presents both a 3 p.m. harmony singing workshop and 7 p.m. concert Sept. 23, both by South Carolina Gullah band Ranky Tanky. Unique and energetic, with rhythms, melodies, and verbal sound effects inspired by both African and early African-American musical traditions– Gullah music is a reminder of the tenacity and rich cultural identity of Africans in the Americas.

The Gullah people are descendants of slaves from West Africa who worked on rice plantations in the lowlands of South Carolina, Georgia, and the Florida coast — also known as the Sea Islands. Given the geographic remoteness and threat of mosquito-borne disease, Gullah communities had little oversight and were able to protect and cultivate their own culture, the practices of which have been passed down from generation to generation.

From 3-4 p.m. members of the band will teach three-part harmony singing of traditional Gullah songs. Participants of all ages will learn about polyrhythms, call-and-response, musical play, and the 12-bar-blues. Pre-registration is suggested but not required. No experience is necessary. The workshop is $10; pay separately or purchase a ticket to the evening concert and attend the workshop for no added charge.

“Ranky tanky” is a Gullah phrase that loosely translates as “get funky”‑the spirit of which perfectly describes the band’s contemporary interpretations of traditional songs. With influences of New Orleans jazz, blues, gospel, and R&B, their repertoire is built on re-imagined arrangements of work-songs, playful game-songs, and heartbreaking spirituals. Ranky Tanky is four Gullah descendants and one disciple, all born in South Carolina, who celebrate an American music born in their own backyards: Quiana Parler (vocalist) and Clay Ross (vocals, guitar), Quentin E. Baxter (drums), Kevin Hamilton (bass), and Charlton Singleton (trumpet, vocals).

Tickets to the 7 p.m. concert are $27 ($30 day of); $24 Member ($27); $11 Under 19. Ticket price includes complimentary admission to the to Gullah Harmony Singing workshop.) The ticket booth opens at 6 p.m.; doors open at 6:30 p.m. This is an indoor concert.