African sensation returns to Oak Bay Rec venue

Juno Award-winning guitarist and singer Alpha Yaya Diallo brings his ‘happy music’ Friday

Juno Award-winning guitarist and singer Alpha Yaya Diallo performs at the Upstairs Lounge at the Oak Bay Recreation Centre Friday.

With a recent focus to bring travelling artists to Greater Victoria, the “happy music” of Africa returns to Oak Bay Friday.

“We’re focusing more on booking artists that are from away,” said Marie Bachand, who co-ordinates the concerts at Upstairs Lounge at Oak Bay Recreation Centre. “We basically book stuff that we like. We feel if we like it hopefully other people will like it too and so far that’s been the case,” Bachand said.

Juno Award-winning guitarist and singer Alpha Yaya Diallo, who now lives in Vancouver but hails from Guinea in West Africa, is one of the hottest acts on the current world music scene.

“He is a world-class musician in terms of world music and African music. We’re very fortunate to have him for almost a private concert in such a small venue where it’s so intimate,” Bachand said.

“He really stands out, he has such an amazing voice and he’s such a fantastic guitar player.”

Diallo, who performed a sold-out show in Oak Bay this spring, is a multi-talented artist with dexterous acoustic and electric guitar-playing.

He’s also a skilled and experienced performer on a variety of percussion instruments and the balafon (a traditional wooden xylphone).

Diallo sings and writes his own compositions that unite the traditional and the contemporary.

“He sings in various languages as well. You just can’t not move your butt to that music. And he’s a very nice man, a kind and chatty nice guy. He just really gets you going. Hopefully people are not going to be too disappointed they can’t dance, because he’s that kind of musician, he’s infectious.”

Diallo will be joined on stage by Vegari Cendar on bass guitar and vocals and Elyse Jean on percussion.

Daillo performs Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Upstairs Lounge at Oak Bay Recreation Centre. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.

Get tickets at beaconridgeproductions.com, Oak Bay Recreation Centre and Ivy’s Bookshop.

Get a taste of the music at alphayayadiallo.com online.

The calendar is filling fast for the recreation centre lounge.

“We have lots of great stuff, different styles of music and I think people are enjoying that variety,” Bachand said. A double bill of Sweet Alibi and Jadea Kelly performs Nov. 12. “I’ve seen them at music conferences,” Bachand said. “I’ve seen Sweet Alibi before a number of times, they’re really, really good.”

Archie Fisher follows on Nov. 18.

“I can’t believe he is still touring … he’s been around for 40 years. He is just one of the best know Scottish singers of the folk tradition,” Bachand said, adding he’s well known for his BBC show.

“He’s just a fantastic guy and we’re very happy to be able to have him.”

The Revelers, originally slated to appear in Oak Bay had to make the shift to a larger venue. “We had to move them to the First church of Christ Scientist … it’s a nice big stage and about 400-seat capacity,” Bachand said.

Doug Cox and Sam Hurrie return to Oak Bay Dec. 9 to wrap the 2016 season.