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Zion Lion, Karamo, and the Thugz Occupy the River Theater

Sunday, January 20th, 2013 | Posted by

Zion Lion

Jerry Knight’s attempt at keeping River folk amused and entertained during these cold wintry evenings involves keeping his cavernous River Theater pulsing with music with which to burn a few calories.

At 7 p.m. on January 31 the ubiquitous and tireless Thugz. long a favorite of locals, will be moving their regular Thursday night performances from Northwood to Jerry’s House of Whacks. They’re adept at covering Dylan, the Dead, Traffic and other music makers but their original tunes are exciting and fresh and offer windows into their bright spirits, their gentle nature and how they feel about their place in the cosmos. $5  gets you in the door and on the floor.

Thugz Drummer Ian Favell

Friday and Saturday, February 1 and February 2 the fun palace celebrates Groundhog Day with reggae proponents, Zion Lion, self-described as “the baddest band to hit the Kalamazoo music scene”. They call their music a mixture of African zouk, mucosa, zoukous and Afro-latin.

On Saturday, on the bill with Zion Lion,  Karamo Susso ( a stranger to most American music lovers)  will be bringing to the River Theater the spirit of West Africa.

Karamo Susso

An international kora star, Karamo Susso grew up in a griot compound in Mali learning kora  from world-renowned players like his uncle Ballake Sissoko and his neighbor Toumani Diabate, and studying and teaching kora at the Institute Nationale des Artes in Bamako, Mali.

He performed in Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Senegal as a featured soloist with UNESCO’s Fescuao Mali, and for the President’s personal events in The Gambia.

Making  frequent appearances on national TV and radio. He was Composition Director for Askan Culture (the national cultural ensemble of Gambia), and advisor and lead kora player for the Female Artists’ Association. A natural engineer, he rapidly boosted Gambian music with his production work at The Gambia YMCA, and went on to open his own studio, Kapamis Production.

His music has been described as ” intricate, elegant, and potent. It is sweet while

Karamo Susso (seated)

strong; percussive while lyrical, active while calm. Centuries of complex tradition are heard in it, as are simple truths.”

And now Karamo is  appearing in Guerneville where, for $10, the West County’s  citizens (and visitors) will be able to dance to his genius and get up close and personal with one more international legend.

The show begins at 8 p.m. and the price of admission is $10. Full bar, light show, and free pool on Fridays and Saturdays.

All shows 21 years old and over, Jerry Knight’s River Theater, 16135 Main Street, Guerneville   869-8022

What is a kora?   A kora is a harp built from a large calabash cut in half and covered with cow skin to make a resonator with a long hardwood neck. The skin


is supported by two handles that run under it, and it supports a notched double free-standing bridge.

Note: The Urban Dictionary’s definition of  karamo is “To conceal ones gayness behind a veneer of Gangsta-ness”.

  • juliette

    stephen, you always are so informative with what’s happening around the river, makes for great play time!

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Stephen Gross, The River correspondent

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