Ten street musicians, hailing from South Africa, the Congo, Zimbabwe, the Netherlands and across the United States, unite to form an eclectic band that showcases each member's cultural identity.
The 2012 Playing For Change band is an extension of the global multimedia project, founded in 2004 by producer Mark Johnson. The organization travels to various locations around the world to film street musicians playing parts of the same song in their own respective styles. The videos are then knit together to form a musical collage. This project paved the way for the Playing For Change Foundation.
"The foundation raises money for music schools all over Africa," explains Olivia Doty, production manager for Ashland-based SugarTime Presents. "They support choirs in Northern Ireland; they support schools and orphanages in Nepal. Their whole mission statement is to create peace and change through the universal language of music."
As part of its Back to Our Roots tour, the Playing For Change band will perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15, at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St. Seattle songwriter and guitarist Freedom will open the show, sponsored by SugarTime Presents.
Each of the musicians in the band was featured in one of the Playing For Change music videos. The 2012 lineup is Grandpa Elliot (vocals and harmonica), Clarence Milton Bekker (vocals), Mermans Mosengo (vocals, guitar and percussion), Reggie McBride (bass), Jason Tamba (vocals and guitar), Peter Bunetta (drums), Titi Tsira (vocals), Tom Canning (keyboards), Renard Poche (lead guitar) and Louis Mhlanga (flying guitar).
General admission is $23 in advance or $25 at the door. Advance tickets are available until an hour before the show at Renaissance Rose in Ashland, Magic Man in Medford and www.brownpapertickets.com. VIP tickets cost $500 for a table of 10, or $50 per individual, and include hors d'oeuvres and wine. Proceeds will benefit the Ashland Schools Foundation. The show is open to all ages. Call 541-301-3463.