VIDEO: Haitian Music Collective's Vermont Connection
A double rainbow graced the sky on Easter evening as if to say-- yes, indeed, something magical is happening here. It was a positive omen for a gathering beginning to take place inside the Rumney barn that night, where the Feast and Field Farmers hosted the Haitian band Lakou Mizik for a potluck dinner and a musical jam.
photo: Chloe Powell
Languages were not shared among all hosts and guests, but the universal languages of smiles, laughs, food and music worked just fine. One could make no predictions about how a jam would go between the intergenerational Vermont folk musicians, and the intergenerational Haitian roots musicians assembled, but it worked, and sometimes really well. Haitians and Vermonters took turns taking the lead on songs, and the others found their place. Band leader Steeve Valcourt called out chords to me, and I found my way into their songs with my fiddle. It was electrifying (though not electrified-- the jam was acoustic apart from the accordion player who needed to be plugged in.) Their drums and repeating call and response vocals melded with our favorite fiddle tunes, and I couldn't keep a smile off my face.
Easter Sunday Jam, photo by Zach Niles
Lakou Mizik is a 9-piece intergenerational group comprised of some of Haiti’s heavy hitters. They meld a variety of traditions and share music that is uplifting, hopeful and impossible not to dance to. Following the 2010 earthquake, Woodstock, VT native Zach Niles moved to Haiti and began putting together the group with Steeve Valcourt, sharing a mission to bring a positive message to the people of Haiti and the world. Luckily for us, with Niles now based in Burlington, and their recording label Cumbancha based in Charlotte, the band is often based in Vermont on their tours. Last June they performed at Feast and Field Market a unique farmers' market in Barnard hosted in the back fields of a working farm where four family farms share a lease. A large local fan-base was created that evening, and the band is mutually a fan of Vermont and Barnard, a symbiotic relationship we hope to continue to grow on and bring them back to the farm!
Jonas Attis dances with kids at Feast and Field Market in June of 2016. Photo by Seth Butler: Sethbutler.com
They are currently in Vermont passing through on a whirlwind East Coast tour, and there are two chances to catch them in Burlington on Friday April 21st:
-At Saint Michael's College beginning at 7 pm. Facebook event
-At Signal Kitchen with opening act Mal Maiz beginning at 8:30. Facebook event
See their full calendar here
Check out this magic moment from last June at Feast and Field when the band's Nadine Remy and Jonas Attis brought local kids up onstage:
For a more professional video than my smartphone shot, check out their new music video for "Gaya" With Dj Michael Brun. "Gaya" means healing, and the song shares a message for healing in Haiti and beyond. A portion of all proceeds from this song go to the Artists Institute, a nonprofit school providing film and audio engineering training. You can get the music here.
Want to read more about artists coming through Barnard? I book artists for the BarnArts Music Series and other special events with the Feast and Field Farmers, and I’ll be using my blog as a way to share their stories, as well as the stories of farmers and other community members working to make the world more beautiful, more delicious, more just and just more fun. Sign up to subscribe to my blog here.