South African Beats – Chico

South African Beats, Message Brought to Chico

The Orion
Devan Homis

Photograph by Frank Rebelo
Photograph by Frank Rebelo

Chico Performances presented jazz trumpet player Hugh Masekela and his South African Afro-beat band as the performers paid their respects to music and the planet at Laxson Auditorium Saturday night.

The show was full of a vast range of emotional response from the audience members as they laughed, clapped, stood up and even sat in a sad silence as Masekela dug into their hearts to find empathy.

He stopped in the middle of his show to clarify the message in his music.

Mother Earth is queen of all and always will be, Masekela said. Society is doing a poor job of respecting her, and those suffering around the world need the help of the more fortunate.

Cooper Grosscup, a freshman philosophy major, agreed with Masekela’s message, he said.

“His music seems to be about celebration but sometimes humility,” Grosscup said. “We need to remember those who are suffering as we are not, and we need to respect Mother Earth. He had a clear message to alleviate the suffering in the world.”

Kaeci Beshears, an usher working at the event, approximated that about 500 tickets to Saturday’s performance were sold in advance, she said. Laxson Auditorium seats about 1,200 people, and Saturday’s audience filled about two-thirds of the seating area.

The feverous sequences of melody in the music created by the five band members made the crowd move. The audience especially responded to the the tribal-sounding drumbeats combined with Masekela’s thunderous, screaming trumpet solos.

The music just makes you happy, avid Masekela fan James Coles said.

“You hear the rhythm and the bass and you want to smile,” he said.

Masekela’s music sprawled across the spectrum of emotional appeal as some songs soothed and others inspired a feverous clap of crowd interaction.

“He’s one of the artists that brought South African music to the mainstream so all of us could get to know it that way,” Coles said. “It’s been great to get to see him.”