Playing for Change

Producer Mark Johnson traversed the globe recording mainly street musicians singing verses of classic tunes that he spliced into melting-pot nuggets for a documentary and album. Most prominently, Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," anchored by street singers Roger Ridley in Santa Monica and Grandpa Elliott in New Orleans, became a 2009 YouTube sensation. The project's enduring aim is to promote international peace, understanding, music and arts education, and community empowerment through music. The mash of multiple performers and shifting styles on each song could be a mess. But they mostly hang together marvelously, carrying an inspirational spirit echoing many of the lyrics. A second volume, PFC2: Songs Around the World, was issued last year, again with a worldwide cast (augmented by stars Keb Mo, Baaba Maal, Taj Mahal, Stephen Marley, Totó La Momposina), covering the likes of Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, and John Lennon. Now PFC's Back to Our Roots tour kicks off at the Ordway with a 10-piece band led by the sweet soul voices of Elliott and the Netherlands' Clarence Bekker. Other members hail from Congo, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and the U.S., notably bassist Reggie McBride and guitarist Renard Poché.
Sun., Feb. 12, 7:30 p.m., 2012

 
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