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The Apex in Bury St Edmunds to host World of Music this summer including the ‘Jimi Hendrix Of The Banjo’

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You can see a World of Music at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds this summer.

The ‘Jimi Hendrix Of The Banjo’ brings traditional New Orleans music in July.

Considered to be one of the best banjo players in the history of New Orleans, Don Vappie is the living embodiment of the city’s unique melting pot of music and culture.

Don Vappie is appearing at The Apex
Don Vappie is appearing at The Apex

Don has headlined at festivals and concert halls around the world and worked with the likes of Wynton Marsalis, Eric Clapton, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Peggy Lee. He was winner of the Steve Martin Banjo Prize in 2021 and inducted into the Banjo Hall of Fame in 2022. He has been honoured with awards from Créole society for keeping the Créole songs of New Orleans alive and preserving this cultural treasure.

His band Jazz Créole includes members of The Dime Notes, Chris Barber Band and Django a la Creole. They explore the evolution of New Orleans music by combining traditional jazz and modern funk with early string band styles. Don Vappie explains, “What’s exciting about this project is that we get to explore the music as it evolved. The very first bands of New Orleans were string bands.

The banjo was a staple of the rhythmic pulse in early jazz, just as the guitar spoke the language of the blues. Our journey explores the widest range of possibilities our instruments can offer, through Créole songs, R&B, New Orleans funk and all that New Orleans has inspired around the world.”

They created a stir with their first album ‘The Blue Book of Storyville’, generating a worldwide positive response from the press.

Don Vappie appears at The Apex on July 18.

Recently celebrating their 50th anniversary, one of Africa’s greatest dance bands Orchestra Baobab bring their timeless set of Afro-Cuban rhythms to The Apex on Wednesday, July 27.

Adored both at home in Senegal and across the world, Baobab occupy a special place in the history of African music. Their story began in the heart of Dakar’s Medina in the 1960s where they formed a multi-ethnic club collective, which adapted Cuban music into West African musical traditions. Their inception kick-started a musical renaissance, turning Dakar into one of the world's most vibrant musical cities.

Orchestra Baobab
Orchestra Baobab

Over the next decade the group dominated the local scene and produced countless hits before disbanding in the mid-80s. The band’s album ‘Ken Dou Werente’ became a cult hit and was re-released internationally in 1989 as ‘Pirate’s Choice’ - as the songs frequently found their way onto bootleg cassettes.

The band reformed in 2001 with encouragement from Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour. This brilliant assembly of diverse musical personalities still play a unique blend of Afro-Latin styles and international pop, creating a West African nightclub ambience of classic swaying tunes and lilting rhythms in their own trademark style.

Meanwhile, Black Umfolosi take to the stage on Friday, August 26. Inspired by the traditional song and dance of their native Southern Africa, their live shows mix beautiful songs with gloriously exuberant dance.

Based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, the group began as a means of entertaining themselves while still at school in 1982. Over the next 40 years, the self-taught Acappella (Imbube) singing group specialised in gumboot and Zulu dance and made it their mission to demonstrate and teach others around the world (including other African countries) about Southern African traditional dance and music.

Black Umfolosi
Black Umfolosi

Often compared to the likes of Lady Smith Black Mambazo, Black Umfolosi have released a number of recordings that feature imbube music and township songs. A great favourite at festivals, their dynamic live performances are energy driven and completely engaging.

Their trademark harmonies, mixed with intricate rhythms, clicking and clapping are complemented by brilliantly choreographed shows, with movements ranging from subtle to vibrant stomping and leaping.

Their famous Gumboot Dances showcase the traditional rituals of the South African mining regions and are a particular crowd-pleaser.