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The Daily Tar Heel

Eno River Association hosts dance party at Carrboro ArtsCenter

Mame Cheikh Nijigal Dieng dancing, John Westmoreland on electric guitar.
Mame Cheikh Nijigal Dieng dancing, John Westmoreland on electric guitar.

Greg Bell, the ERA’s festival director, said the event earned about $4,500 toward a total goal of $107,000, which will cover repairs to the association’s office space and surrounding environment after a sewage leak flooded the building in January.

“The $4,500 we raised at the ArtsCenter brings us that much closer to this goal, but moreover helps build community, raise spirits and raise additional donations due to the publicity this event engendered,” Bell said.

Cissokho, a native of Senegal, plays the kora, a West African string instrument, and headlines vocals. The group produces a sound that’s a mix of West African traditional, funk, rock, blues and jazz. Percussionist Will Ridenour said Kaira Ba’s music focuses on the kora.

“What we do is we take a traditional way of playing melodies and percussion, but we sort of develop them in a modern, sort of American, way,” he said.

Ridenour said Kaira Ba is familiar with the ERA and has played the festival for the Eno in the past.

“We’ve been doing (the festival) for a couple years, and there are people in the band that feel really strongly about supporting environmental justice causes, especially local ones, so this is the perfect opportunity to support that type of activism that’s happening in our own backyard,” he said.

Bell said the group chose Cissokho & Kaira Ba to play the dance party partially for weather-related reasons.

“We knew that we wanted a dance band, and we knew that we wanted something to offset the cold, so we thought something sort of tropical would be a good mix,” Bell said.

The dance party hosted about 300 people, he said.

“We had no idea what to expect, having never done an event of this nature and were very excited to draw such a large and energetic crowd.”

Party attendee Katie Grice, from Saxapahaw, said the show was a positive experience.

“The musicians were incredible, no one could help but dance, and you could feel the love radiating out from the stage,” Grice said.

Bell said the dance party felt like a fitting way to raise money for the flood damage.

“It’s quite ironic that one of the oldest environmental organizations in the state focusing on clean water had been forced from its offices by the municipal sewage spill,” Bell said. “So that’s where this party idea came from — literally we were covered in shit, thinking, ‘This sucks and it’s going to suck for a while, and we need to have a party.’”

He recognized that the dance party, alone, would not accomplish the ERA’s entire fundraising goal.

“We’re not going to raise that kind of money with a party, but every little bit helps,” Bell said.

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