Estimated people; ones that make a difference in this puzzle and whom as opposed to many inspiring figures, I happen, at fortunate times, to share the same floor.
I survived adolescence without becoming a groupie, running for silly backstage passes or after old junkies rocking my world from their illustrated glossy posters hanging above my bed. First of all, I could not hang anything above my bed, for I was sharing my room with my 7-year younger brother. Seven years of age difference when you are the teenager, grants you the advantage of rendering your sibling invisible; however the furniture remains as a puzzling space minimizer. I should admit though that I did have the occasional preferences, not to be mistaken for the deep-rooted freak; alas rarely for the singer alone in a band (call it early appreciation for teamwork). I can’t really explain it; probably I am more impressed by people doing things with their hands.
Now combine the above confession with your average emancipation and feminist flare. Yeap. That’s me. Until I see Willem playing cajón. Maybe it is Willem’s possibly introvert and composed nature -rough antithesis to the sizzling tapping- or the sparkling smile, the marble-like skin tone, or the sharp yet familiar angular face. Or it could be the dark hair framing two starry eyes or maybe it is just his magical hands after seemingly endless hours of painful practicing while in reality he wanted to go out and play with his friends on the Frisian grass fields. I haven’t figure it out yet. The few words I have exchanged with him revealed uncertain conclusions about his person and the rest is observations probably biased by my impression on his talent. Willem is a percussionist and currently plays with SoulDada, a group that is apparently formed by the most beautiful people in the dutch scene. And yet, there is nothing ephemeral about SoulDada and certainly not about Willem. I mean, when was the last time you met and watched someone really enjoying what he is doing? Being there to observe the moment when he starts levitating, above us, the earthly beings trapped in the twilight zone of office work orbiting at conditions of zero creativity. When I want to see that, I go to SoulDada’s website and check their agenda.
So, Willem. Willem was sitting at the back when I first saw him, behind the drums that is, and as the songs advanced he moved from the membrane-bearing cylinders and chime circles to other comparatively minuscule sound-creating thingies, till he sat on the cajón. Casually. As if he would have a beer or tapas at some bar in sunny Barcelona. I rarely envy an object (unlike, at times, real persons, I admit this weakness), but for some minutes during the concerts I wish I were a fortunate small wooden afro-peruvian box, with my little strings and metallic bits and pieces making music under the delicate hands.
Understandably, should I have known that I would witness a miracle in the form of a waterfall of clicks and clacks and pats and ticks and tsssss and trrtrrtrr, I would have separated from my partner on time to attend the concert without the guilt of mental adultery. And mind you, I make this thought every time. For it is not just a virtuoso producing the lyrical music in its stereotypical sense, rather a fine young man playing the world’s oldest and most ubiquitous musical instruments in a perfect communion of seasoning SoulDada’s songs with beats followed by the silent sighs of the ones who are’t, can’t be and can’t have.
It is surely a gratifying challenge to describe W’s cajón solos without entering in the gray zone of pink details and domestic complaints, but I know for a fact that a man who so harmonically coordinates both hands and a leg perfectly balancing on the resting foot to swiftly hug a wooden-box-soon-to-be-turned-to-magical-sound should expect really bright days and even brighter nights.
It is simple; if you see a poster of SoulDada somewhere touring your coordinates, don’t miss the chance. If not for the solos, definitely for the ensemble.
(The photo is shamelessly stolen from LexSample.nl; don’t sue me!)