Tarika is Malagasy for "the band," inviting a not entirely fatuous comparison to the American group of the same name. The Band strove to blend traditional North American styles (blues, country, gospel, R & B, etc) with contemporary pop music. Tarika integrates musical styles from Madagascar's 18 distinct tribes, and in its original songs it expresses a deep concern for preserving traditions threatened by imported Western ways. The quintet is by no means tradition-bound; a rarity among Malagasy groups, it's led by two women (sisters Hanitrarivo "Hanitra" Rasoanaivo and Tina Norosoa "Noro" Raharimalala) who do not hesitate to confront sexism in their songs. But even when their lyrical concerns are weighty, Tarika's music is buoyant. Propulsive drumming, robust vocal harmonies punctuated by enthusiastic whoops and cries, and lilting stringed instruments like the valiha (a tubular bamboo zither), the kabosy (a small box-shaped guitar), and the lokanga bara (a three-stringed fiddle) combine to create an intoxicating rush of melody and rhythm. This is Tarika's Chicago debut. Saturday, 7 and 10 PM, The Old Town School of Folk Music, 909 W. Armitage; 525-7793.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Ian Anderson.