This year is the year of Peru at Kennesaw State University and they were graced with the vibrant performance of the band Inca Son on Thursday night. Inca son is a band that is somewhat unknown in places other than the international music world but they should be known to everyone. The band consists of five men that wear the traditional garb from the Incan culture complete with head dresses that stand sky-high. The lead singer, César Villalobos, maintained a delightful demeanor as he told stories of his first North American dinner party where he misunderstood the host and brought an actual live chicken for dinner…Can you imagine?
The band played two and a half hours of traditional music with homemade instruments with most of the musicians proving to be excellent at several of them. The lead singer, in the middle of his hilarious stories and entertainment, would play one of the many sizes of the traditional flutes while keeping rhythm with the drum and an energetic dance. Of the four other men, one played many different percussion instruments including a rain stick and he made it sound unbelievable. I never knew how great music could sound if you put a rain stick in the middle of it. Another man played several types of woodwind instruments which create a sound that is unlike popular music here but created the type of unique sound that can be associated with South America including a flute that was about three feet long that created bass so low the floor shook. The other two men played string instruments in such a unique way that they stood out in a way that I would not have imagined them doing.
Inca Son also came equipped with dancers that wore the traditional clothing in vibrant colors. They were not out for every song but when they were out, they had a way of getting the audience (or maybe just me) dancing in their seats. They had choreographed routines that were clearly rehearsed for long hours and executed very well. There was one man who came out and did a bold “scissor dance” with a musical instrument that looked like scissors that were not attached and made a beautiful sound which he used to enhance the Inca sound. This man was doing moves that the break dancers from the 80’s would have rivaled and he was doing the dance with sharp objects and keeping time with the music. I don’t know many break dancers that can do that!
In between songs, Mr. Villalobos, would either explain the next song in the set or tell a story about something that had happened to him personally. He told one entertaining story after drinking out of his bottle of water and not failing to mention that his village has delicious spring water for free, that when he was performing in Russia he became thirsty after several songs and he ended up mistaking a clear liquid that some men off the stage were drinking for water. “Vodka” he said as he scrunched his face with obvious distaste for the stuff.
As the night went on, the band talked a little about their awards and accomplishments and considering what they have done they should be praised for their modesty. They spoke of Grammy’s and getting to perform with the Boston Symphony Orchestra which are accomplishments that any musician would envy. They have a sound that can be appreciated across cultures. They are extremely talented musicians that can write songs which can make anyone want to listen. In the wise words of the band as they were signing off, “It is nice to be appreciated, but I appreciate that you are nice.”