15 years of pandemonium
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The life and times of Bassa Bassa by Richard Scott
Leeds band Bassa Bassa, described as "merchants of musical mayhem", are
celebrating 15 years of existence in April. In that time over 80 musicians
have passed through the ranks of the band's brass and sax frontline with
full rhythm section. Now an effort is being made to track down as many as
possible for a celebratory birthday weekend on 19/20 April 2002.
Varying between 9 and 22 members (currently 14) the band over the years has
appeared at Glastonbury and WOMAD, made trips to Brittany and Ireland, and
featured in many street festivals including Leeds' regular summer Rhythms
of The City. Along with Bradford-based Peace Artistes, they have also often
brought their commitment to benefits and demonstrations for causes ranging
from Drop the Debt back to the days of Anti-Apartheid, Nicaraguan
Solidarity and the Poll Tax.
Founded by Sam Paechter and Rachel Richman in 1987, the band caught the
rising wave of World Music, but have never been easy to pigeonhole. Blasts
of ska, jazz, latin, african, and funk compete for attention with the
good-humoured stage presence of musicians who are obviously enjoying
The band is a loose collective centred around the longer-term members.
Bassa Bassa has made a big contribution to Leeds' vibrant musical life over
fifteen years, without ever looking for, needing or receiving official
backing: "And it's been a valuable experience for band members, long-term
and short-term, as well as the punters"
Despite their openness to all contributions the band has always aimed for
high standards. For the last year or two they have been on a roll. With two
recordings under their belt (the first LP was recorded back in the late
80's with financial assistance from Leeds band Chumbawamba) the band seem
happy to keep rolling into the future.
Anniversary Gig 19th April
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For the 19 April (Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 6 at 8pm) they are planning
a regular gig of the current band with one or two guest appearances. On
Saturday 20 April (12.30pm-3.30pm) they are planning a "mass busk-in" in
Leeds City Centre.
"As war clouds gather around US/UK plans for war in Iraq, we're looking to
create an answering storm of cheerful protest with as many musicians and
onlookers as possible. We'd love any instrumentalists to join us", says
Richard Scott. "I hope they can use this occasion to make
contact, whether previous members or not."
And the name? "Somebody once assured us that it means pandemonium in West
Africa. It's the name of a cooking sauce in the West Indies, a dust-up in
Barbados, a township in Louisiana. All in all it's a cheerful confusion ."