Will Kahn understands the value of combining musical talents. “I never could play drums by myself,” he says, recalling his teenage years, “so I set them up at a friend’s house, who was playing bass. … That’s how I started—playing with someone else.” Things haven’t changed much over the years for the multi-instrumentalist, producer, engineer, and studio manager at Paradise Recording. Kahn joined the Afro/samba/funk group SambaDá in 1998, and has been collaborating with local musicians ever since. For the last decade, it has been his dream to form a “total Santa Cruz supergroup” made up of his many gifted friends—and finally, that band has taken shape, under the moniker Afro Beat Box.
Members of the all-star group include—but are not limited to—singers Papiba Godinho and Dandha da Hora (SambaDá), singers Fattah Abbou and Mohamed Aoualou (AZA), Dee Jay Kikkoman, emcee Mr Free and bassist Etienne Franc (Blyndsite), trumpet player Jon Cavanaugh (Flor de Caña), and R&B/pop singer-songwriter Gina Rene (Chris Rene’s sister). “What’s so great about [Afro Beat Box] is I don’t feel that I’m creating it,” says Kahn. “We create a general structure, but it’s a very natural thing and everyone has to use their senses to know what to do.” In other words, Afro Beat Box is “a cultural collaboration,” says Kahn. This Wednesday, the band returns to Moe’s Alley for its second show since September. Hear their fresh fusion and diverse beats on “MOROCCO She Wrote” and “Não No Nó,” at reverbnation.com/willkahn. Presently inspired by gospel music from the 1950s and early ’60s—especially Sam Cooke and The Soul Stirrers—Kahn says that the band has a soulful set in store for fans at Moe’s Alley. Who knows, they might even have a pre-show prayer led by Mr Free, who is both an MC and a minister.
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 8. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $5/adv, $10/door. 479-1854.