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Tuesday 19 January 2010

Brussels 2: Papa Boni

Picking up where we left off yesterday, the Heavy Trash gig at Ancienne Belgique finished about 10.30 p.m. This seemed a little early to go back to my hotel, which was only ten minutes walk away, so I decided to stop off for a quiet beer somewhere before heading off to bed.

I had only gone about 100 yards when I came across the functionally titled Live Music Cafe which was advertising a gig by Papa Boni & Kundi Bora, a Congolese rumba ensemble. Looking in the window it looked half full and quiet - everyone was seated and a band were on the small stage at the other end but showed no sign of playing - so assumed they must have finished their set. I went in anyway.

No sooner had I settled myself at a spare table and bought a very nice pint of Blanche de Bruges than the band started warming up and the bar staff started moving the tables and chairs out of the central section of the bar to make space for standing and dancing.

I found myself chatting to four charming locals and a Dutchman who lives near Philadelphia, and when the band started we were the first of the floor. Not that we were there alone for long as Papa and the boys really know how to work a crowd, as you can see from this slightly shaky clip of them performing in Maastricht last December (it has been embedded so you will need another click, but it is worth the effort).

The bar got more and more crowded as the evening progressed, and by the time I finally headed off at about 1 a.m. there must have been about 100 to 150 people in the place and they were still going strong. Unlike the Heavy Trash gig earlier in the evening, this was perfect combination of band and venue. Toss in a friendly crowd and it was pretty fantastic.

Suitably inspired I went down to Musicanova near the Port Namur metro the next morning and picked up a few Congolese CDs for €5 a go. The pick of the bunch is probably King Kester Emeneya's 1997 album "Succes Fous".

Here are a couple of tracks from that album. These are dedicated to my new friends Marius, Maud, Alexandra, Sam and the anonymous Dutchman.

"Milonga Kwango" - King Kester Emeneya

"Kapudi" - King Kester Emeneya

As a bonus, here is Kester in action in 1991:

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