Everything from art to African beats

Looking for a place where you could find an African street band one week and an experimental film titled Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine the next? The Andy Warhol Museum is ideal for anyone looking to catch up on contemporary art and popular culture.

Along with their extensive permanent collection (over 4000 works), they feature special exhibits and events that you might never associate with CMU’s famous avant-garde alumnus.

Perhaps the biggest service that the museum provides is to promote blooming artists and bring this art culture to the city of Pittsburgh. On Tuesday, November 15, the museum featured an up-and-coming band called Konono No. 1. Konono No. 1 is a 12-piece African street band who made their Pittsburgh debut after a European tour with the Chicago-based band Tortoise.

The night of their concert, the main lobby of the museum was packed with a truly diverse crowd of people ranging from ages five to 65. It isn’t every day that traditional Congolese music is performed for an urban crowd, so in order to preserve the traditions of this music, the audience was asked to do something specific while watching the show: dance!

As soon as the music began, the lobby was transformed into a scene one might see at an outdoor café on the streets of Kinshasa. Everyone (from the hippies to the rockers to the punks to the hip-hoppers) got into the groove. At one point a giant conga line formed around the lobby. As Chris May of AllAbout Jazz.com says, “They don’t call this trance music for nothing. Played loud, like it’s meant to be, it will take you to another sphere.” Sure enough, that crowd was nothing like the average Warhol crowd.

Konono No. 1 was formed 25 years ago on the Congo-Angolan border with the intention to perform traditional music. The amplified limkebes, or thumb-pianos, rhythmic drum beats, and chants create a neo-traditional genre of kitashasa that musicians call tradi-moderne. The band incorporated these originally unwanted distortions with their roots in bazombo trance music, producing an extremely unique style that has grouped them with the most experimental forms of rock and trance music.

If dancing to traditional African music isn’t something that you are interested in, the Warhol Museum also offers other, lower-key events on a regular basis. Currently, there is an exhibit, running until January 8, titled Starf*cker: Andy Warhol and the Rolling Stones, which portrays Warhol’s close relationship with the Stones, especially Mick Jagger, and examines their song lyrics. There is also an exhibit, running through December 31, called General Idea Editions: 1967–1995. The museum also features additional unique works and installations by General Idea. For a list of past and future exhibits (they’re already scheduled through the next year), check out the “What’s on” link at www.warhol.org. With a huge array of concerts, exhibits, and performances, you are certain to find an event at the Warhol Museum that interests you