Photo by Theresa Keil
Performances by the Baltimore Afrobeat Society are both intense and deeply cathartic experiences as well as important cultural gatherings that have become a ritual for many of us. As the dates for their most recent performances approached, fans of the ensemble spoke of the impending celebrations with reverence knowing that these happenings aren’t your typical live shows. They are rites of affirmation.

The effect of the performances can be traced to the resonance of the music itself. B.A.S. recreates compositions by one of the world’s most admired activist musicians, the late Fela Kuti. Fela pioneered a kind of music that is comprised of deep rhythms, heavy horns, and a call and response with his back up singers and audience. It fuses funk with tribal rhythms and spirit with the latter taking the lead. Personally, the band was my introduction to the story of Fela Kuti and his music which are both fascinating and should be explored if you haven’t already. This music isn’t about introspection by the composer as much as it is meant to be shared and unify its audience.

What’s also special about the Baltimore Afrobeat Society is the breadth of its membership. If you have an appreciation of local music you’re sure to recognize several faces on the stage. The group is comprised of performers who seem to be constantly immersed in the exploration and appreciation of music and the effect it has on people. In fact, it takes a certain level of dedication to commit to this music. The complexity is subtle but I would imagine that it takes a considerable degree of concentration to perform the compositions that are expansive and epic when compared to much of western music.

I could continue to list the reasons why missing a B.A.S. show is something you should try to avoid but I’m sure you get the gist. I’m a huge fan and this is a full-on endorsement. I heard a disturbing rumor that the band may be breaking up. If anyone knows anything about that please leave a comment below. There are also several videos and photos posted up at the band’s Facebook page as well.

Photo by Larry Cohen

Photo by Justin Allen

Photo by Theresa Keil

Photo by Theresa Keil

Photo by Theresa Keil

Photo by Theresa Keil

Photo by Theresa Keil

Photo by Justin Allen

Photo by Justin Allen

Photo by Theresa Keil

Photo by Theresa Keil

Photo by Theresa Keil

Photo by Larry Cohen

Photo by Justin Allen

Photo by Theresa Keil

Photo by Justin Allen

Photo by Theresa Keil
Photo by Justin Allen

About The Author

Theresa is a freelance photographer based in Baltimore