music / Columns

Jam Central Station: Toubab Krewe – Stylo Review

February 24, 2018 | Posted by Jeff Modzelewski



It’s been nearly 8 years since Toubab Krewe released their last studio album. It’s not that the’ve been missed in the meantime, since they’ve toured somewhat regularly and never fell off the map. While their not necessarily a band that needs to release an album every 2-3 years, and their West African fusion style isn’t going to land them on the pop charts, fans of theirs (myself included) have been anticipating a new album from these guys for a long time. Thankfully Stylo is an album that makes the long wait worthwhile.

There are some difficulties when it comes to discussing Toubab Krewe’s music. First off, the instruments they use are often far removed from what we normally see in this country. They blend West African instruments like the kora and soku with standard rock guitar, bass, and drums. I’m far from an expert on these instruments, so it’s hard for me to accurately state when someone nails a cool run or solo on an instrument that I just don’t recognize. Also, their songs are almost all instrumental, which, for me at least, makes tracking a band from song to song a little more difficult. Luckily it doesn’t make the listen any less enjoyable. Stylo is a fun album that is reminiscent of a great movie score, catchy and interesting without being overwhelming.

The opening track “That Damn Squash” reminded me of something that I would have heard in a Quentin Tarantino movie. The cool rhythms mixed with the somewhat exotic instruments playing western melodies was a cool mix, one that found its way throughout the album. “Night Shade” is a bit more of a heavy hitter, although the ethereal sound of some of the instruments keeps any of Toubab Krewe’s music from getting too far into the dark end. The guitar did get a lot of work a raging solo mid-tune before dropping back into a percussion-led rhythm. The title track again has a Tarantino flair to it, with almost an Asian sound to the mellow dance tune. This was a song where I was extremely impressed with the actual studio work. The instruments seem to rise and fall, fade in and out, keeping things very spacy at times.

The band is extremely tight throughout “Saba Minya,” and the transitions are extremely clean with the drummers hold the rhythm and “Salut” saw the drummers to be absolutely on point. It’s never easy to mix a drum kit and percussion and Toubab Krewe pulls it off without a hiccup. “Lafia” is a fast-paced wall of sound that is both frantic but well-orchestrated at the same time, with no one stepping on each other’s toes musically. “Miriam” has a more coastal feel, which makes sense given the band’s connections with the West African country of Ghana. It’s also the only track on the album with vocals, with a man and a woman trading vocal duties that have clear traditional African roots while still fitting well in a modern setting. Like the band themselves, the vocals on this tune bridge the gap well. Closing tune “Southern Tracks” starts out with more hectic ferocity than anything I’ve heard out of the band before, except this one sees the band playing all over each other. They don’t really find a discernible rhythm or melody for most of the song. It’s an interesting direction to close out the album, but as a song much of it is rather difficult to listen to and doesn’t fit will with the rest of their work.

Overall this is a fun album that would be great for a party, jam session, or work session. It has a lot going on in it, and, because of the more “exotic” elements, it’s an album where you can hear something new every time you listen. The best thing about this album for me is knowing that I’ll continue to have the opportunity to see this band at shows over the next few years. They’re a ton of fun live and worth checking out, even if you’ve ever heard their music before.



Summer Camp Adds Artists
Summer Camp had their second major artist announcement this week. The festival didn’t add any major names but they did add a good run of support acts. Slightly Stoopid, Twiddle, Guster, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and Papadosio were all added to the festival. They’ll join moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Phil Lesh, STS9, and dozens of other bands for the event.

Dispatch announce tour
Dispatch will hit the road this summer. They’ll be joined by Nahko & Medicine For The People for most dates, as well as other supporting acts. The tour start off in Colorado before criss-crossing the country.

Leftover Salmon announce tour
Leftover Salmon will release a new album on May 4th, and they’ll also be kicking off their summer tour on that date. They’ll be hitting venues and festivals around the country on a run that right now is scheduled through June, although I’d expect more dates to be added.

May 4 Boulder, CO – eTown
May 5 Morrison, CO – Red Rocks Amphitheatre
May 9 Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
May 10 Newport News, VA – Boathouse Live
May 11 Aiken, SC – Aiken Bluegrass Festival
May 12 Huntersville, NC – North Carolina Brewers & Music Festival
May 13 Charleston, SC – Pour House
May 15 Cleveland, OH – Music Box Supper Club
May 16 Kalamazoo, MI – Bell’s Eccentric Cafe
May 17 Des Moines, IA – Wooly’s
May 18 Kansas City, MO – Bluegrass in the Bottoms
May 19 Lincoln, NE – Great Pinewood Bluegrass Throwdown
May 25 Geneva, MN – Revival Fest
May 26 Chillicothe, IL – Summercamp Music Festival
June 2 Jackson, MS – Cathead Music Festival
June 7 Sandpoint, ID – The Hive
June 8 Whitefish, MT – Great Northern
June 9 Haugan, MT – Silver Cloud Campout

Read more:


Winter WonderGrass
February 21-23
Steamboat Springs, CO
Greensky Bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band, Leftover Salmon, Elephant Revival, Horseshoes & Handgrenades, Travelin’ McCoury’s, Fruition, Billy Strings

Suwannee Spring Reunion
March 22-25
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
The Infamous Stringdusters, Donna the Buffalo, Larry Keel Experience, Dar Williams, Billy Strings, Amy Helm, The Grass is Dead

Winter Wondergrass Tahoe
April 6-8
Squaw Valley, CA
The Devil Makes Three, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Elephant Revival, The California Honeydrops, Steep Canyon Rangers, Fruition, The Lil’ Smokies

Wannee Festival
April 19-21
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Widespread Panic, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Dark Star Orchestra, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, North Mississippi Allstars, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe

Sweetwater 420 Festival
April 20-22
Centennial Park
Atlanta, GA
String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Sturgill Simpson, Vulfpeck, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Papadosio, The Record Company, Spafford, Southern Avenue

April 26-29
Wilkes Community College
Wilkesboro, NC
Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Sam Bush, The Devil Makes Three, Donna the Buffalo, The Way Down Wanderers, Wesley Bright & The Honeytones

Charm City Bluegrass Festival
April 27-28
Druid Hill Park
Baltimore, MD
The Devil Makes Three, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, The Steeldrivers, Jeff Austin Band, Billy Strings, Larry Keel Experience

May 17-19
Fort Royale Farm
Bedford, PA
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

May 24-27
Cumberland, MD
The Del McCoury Band, The Travelin’ McCoury’s, The Bluegrass Congress, Old Crow Medicine Show, David Grisman, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, The Jerry Douglas Band, The Wood Brothers, Elephant Revival, Fruition, Billy Strings

Summer Camp
May 25-27
Three Sisters Park
Chillicothe, IL
moe., Umphrey’s McGee, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, STS9, Greensky Bluegrass, Beats Antique, EOTO, Everyone Orchestra, Keller Williams, Kyle Hollingsworth Band, Lettuce, Slightly Stoopid, Papadosio, Twiddle, Yonder Mountain String Band

Dark Star Jubilee
May 25-27
Legend Valley
Thornville, OH
Dark Star Orchestra, Los Lobos, Infamous Stringdusters, Hot Tuna, The Nth Power, Rumpke Mountain Boys

Camp Greensky
May 31-June 2
Wellston, MI
Greensky Bluegrass, Jeff Tweedy, Trampled By Turtles, Fruition, Billy Strings

Music on the Mothership
June 1-3
Taos, NM
moe., Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Rising Appalachia, Antibalas, Assembly of Dust, Fruition, Nicki Bluhm, Melvin Seals

June 7-10
Manchester, TN
Eminem, Muse, The Killers, Bassnectar, The Revivalists, Rebelution, STS9, Mavis Staples, Trombone Shorty, Spafford, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

Blue Ox Music Festival
June 14-16
Eau Claire, WI
Greensky Bluegrass, The Devil Makes Three, Sam Bush, Del McCoury Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Margo Price, Billy Strings

Mountain Jam
June 15-17
Hunter Mountain, NY
Jack Johnson, Sturgill Simpson, alt-J, The War On Drugs, Portugal. The Man, The Decembrists, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Rag n’ Bone Man, Turkuaz, The Record Company

Electric Forest Weekend 1
June 21-24
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Chromeo, Xavier Rudd, Andy Frasco & The UN, Aqueous, Big Something, Corey Henry & The Funk Apostles, Everyone Orchestra, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Manic Focus, Shook Twins, The Main Squeeze, The Werks, The Nth Power, Toubab Krewe, Turkuaz

Electric Forest Weekend 2
June 28-July 1
Double JJ Ranch & Resort
Rothbury, MI
The String Cheese Incident, Bassnectar, Chromeo, Xavier Rudd, Aqueous, Big Something, Corey Henry & The Funk Apostles, Everyone Orchestra, Fruition, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Manic Focus, Shook Twins, The Main Squeeze, The Werks, The Nth Power, Toubab Krewe, Turkuaz

High Sierra
July 5-8
Quincy, CA
String Cheese Incident, Sturgill Simpson, Lettuce, The Wood Brothers, Turkuaz, Lotus, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Twiddle, Fruition, Spafford

Camp Bisco
July 12-14
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
The Disco Biscuits, Bassnectar, Excision, Bonobo, The Floozies, Lettuce, TAUK, Lotus, Papadosio

The Ride Festival
July 14-15
Telluride, CO
The String Cheese Incident, Sheryl Crow, Grace Potter, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Big Something

Peach Festival
July 19-22
Montage Mountain
Scranton, PA
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band, Gov’t Mule, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Dicky Betts, moe., Twiddle, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Blackberry Smoke, Turkuaz, Leftover Salmon, The Main Squeeze,

Northwest String Summit
July 19-22
Horning’s Hideout
North Plains, OR
Yonder Mountain String Band, Greensky Bluegrass, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Fruition, Mandolin Orange, Steep Canyon Rangers

July 25-29
Floyd, VA
Foster the People, The Infamous Stringdusters, Hiss Golden Messenger

Element Music Festival
July 26-29
Snug Lake Ampitheatre
British Columbia
Lotus, Spafford, Particle

August 23-26
Arrington, VA
Dead & Company, Widespread Panic, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Umphrey’s McGee, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Sheryl Crowe, Lettuce, George Clinton & P-Funk, Blues Traveler, Matisyahu, Spafford, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong


Thanks again for stopping by. I’ll be back next week with more jam. Until then, check me out on Facebook and Twitter for up to the minute concert announcements. Until next week, Jam On!