Haitian twoubadou artists Ti-Coca & Wanga-Ngs will perform at the Paul Finkel Auditorium Sunday at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge as part of Center Stage, a U.S. diplomacy initiative.A traditional form of Haitian music, twoubadou "doesn't take a lot of equipment," Ti-Coca said. Instead, musicians craft their own flutes, double bass-like manoumbas, gourd shakers and songs. Evolved in Haiti's isolated rural areas, twoubadous have long made use of any available resonant materials, despite a lack of electricity and technology in rural communities. "Anything could be an instrument," Ti-Coca said. While referencing history and making parables of past events, the twoubadou repertoire is without politics and is a cornerstone for Haitians, both privileged and poor. "It's about friends gathering and playing, getting together to have fun and express their lives or feelings," Ti-Coca said. "You just use everything that makes a sound to create good music, so that people have a good time." Twoubadous are very much in demand in Haiti. They are hired to greet visitors at the airport, pack the dance floor at exclusive dinner clubs and liven up parties in small villages and towns. Among them, Ti-Coca is considered one of the best.He made a name for himself in Port-au-Prince after relocating there from the Haitian countryside in the 1970s. Only 14 at the time, he was so short that everyone called him "Little Coke Bottle," referring to the diminutive glass bottles in which soda was sold at the time. Stateside, Ti-Coca has performed at Globalquerque, the Kennedy Center and the New Orleans Jazz Fest. Ti-Coca and Wanga-Ngs - which refers to a hummingbird as a symbol of seduction - play the traditional twoubadou music Ti-Coca learned as a child while adding the mereng (Haiti's French-inflected version of merengue), the popular, swinging dance music of konpa-direk and Cuban influences.Their sound pairs banjo and accordion with percussion, manoumba and Ti-Coca's tcha-tcha - a simple gourd percussion instrument he "coaxes into virtuosity led by his gritty, warm voice and unflagging charisma," promoters boast."It's very light and brings joy, but on top of it, it gives you hope. It gives you hope and carries a lot of faith," Ti-Coca said.The CMC stop is one of two days the group will play Colorado as part of their tour. Band info: www.centerstageus.org
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