The Social, Orlando, Fl • January 25, 2008
Austrailian surf hippie Xavier Rudd gives new meaning to the term “one man band.”
This blond-haired, shaggy folk artist sits behind a monstrosity of instruments that include the didgeridoo, a stomp box, a Weissenborn slide guitar, and djembes (a kind of hand drum). The bizarre circus element of seeing one tiny little man play so many different kinds of instruments and sing seems to have spread by word of mouth causing his Orlando gig to sell out almost instantly.
With the overall vibe of the evening resting heavily on the peace and love end of the spectrum, it was quite appropriate that the opener was a reggae artist cut from the same fabric as Bob Marley. Most reggae artists would have their influences traced back to the famous Jamaican, but Mishka is more authentically Marley than most. For one, he was born and raised in Bermuda on a boat his parents built for them.
He’s got the laid-back air of a man who has spent his life on the calm Caribbean waters, a tongue that comfortably rolls its “r’s,” and a soul that’s been marinated in salt and sand. Though the crowd didn’t offer him the undivided attention his quiet, soulful melodies demanded, those who did listen swayed unconsciously, lost in the soothing rhythms.
Once Rudd’s specially constructed circle of instruments was unveiled, with the pipes of the didgeridoo ending just inches from fans in the front row, the spirits of the venue awoke.
What brought me out to the show was not necessarily Xavier Rudd’s music, for which I only have a passing acquaintance, but curiosity as to what it was about this barefoot Australian folk musician that was impressive enough to be selling out shows consistently.
He buried himself behind a world of wood and metal, feathers hanging from his disheveled hair, and it quickly became apparent that what I was witnessing was the popularizing of world music. Not since Paul Simon have strange sounds from the far corners of the world been put together in such a pleasing manner.
The man’s got skills, without a doubt, but the electrifying elements of his live performance that I’d been hearing whispers about since last summer’s afternoon set at Bonnaroo weren’t anything mind blowing. As entertaining, impressive, and loaded with talented as he was I did not feel the earth beneath me quake.
Xavier Rudd: http://www.xavierrudd.com ◼