Chris McKhool has learned that there’s no better way to travel than with a violin strapped to your back.
The Toronto-based musician has traveled the world, including to the Canadian Arctic, Indonesia, France and Guatemala. Most of it was done with a violin in hand. With music as an international calling card, McKhool found himself invited into bar rooms and living rooms to jam with the locals.
“Music is such a great excuse to get to know people,” McKhool said in an interview. “You can learn so much about a culture from its music.”
Attendees of the show can expect a multicultural experience in the form of fun, upbeat world music, McKhool said. Sultans of String describe themselves as a mixture of Spanish, Cuban and Middle Eastern music.
“A lot of times, our audiences walk away saying ‘I don’t know what that was, but I really like it.’”
McKhool founded Sultans of String with guitarist Kevin Laliberté, who has toured extensively with Jesse Cook. McKhool says many of his travels were vacations, business or performing. On all of them, he took an instrument.
“Sometimes you get a gig that pays you to go there, then you take your time once you’re there,” he says.
In India, he took violin lessons from a respected local violinist. In Cuba, he played with bands in the plaza.
“When you have a musical instrument on your back, it’s a pretty magical thing,” he says. “People are by and large super friendly and a lot more open to you. They’ll wave you over and say ‘come over and play with us,’ and before you know it, you’re playing on someone’s front porch.”
Dr. Zoo has a similar multicultural background. Randal Arsenault, who also teaches environmental science and ecology at Lethbridge College, is a native Newfoundlander who has traveled throughout southern Africa. While getting a PhD in zoology in Africa, he learned the international rhythms from the culture’s music, developing a unique “Afro-Celtic-reggae” combination. African and Celtic music are compatible, he says.
In developing the sound, “I realized there are similarities between Celtic music and what I heard in the Congo.”
Sultans of String and Dr. Zoo
March 2, 2011
Tickets – $42