Henhouse Prowlers Blend Bluegrass With Nairobi Pop

by Jamie Latty

The banjo way too often gets pigeonholed into its traditional uses. So, it is always refreshing when it is brought outside of its element and used in music genres that are outside of its traditional setting. In this case, very far. 

This past week we featured Ben Wright of the Henhouse Prowlers on Deering Live. For the uninitiated, the Henhouse Prowlers are not your average bluegrass four-piece. They are cultural ambassadors to the US, having started working with the US State Dept in 2013. Since that time, the band has traveled the globe, spreading the good word of American bluegrass-infused music wherever they go. This includes over 25 countries, many of which have never heard traditional American music. 

This performance is the result of one of the band's many trips to Africa; specifically, Kenya, where they learned a tune that they themselves were not familiar with. The tune is Sura Yako and is a hugely famous song in Kenya by the Nairobi-based pop band Sauti Sol. The performance came mid-way an enthralling conversation with Wright and the reaction of all of us watching, as all four members began singing in a near-perfect native tongue, was one of wonder, amazement, and with a few goosebumps thrown in for good measure.

Watch the Henhouse Prowlers version below as well as the original version by Sauti Sol. 

Watch the complete Deering Live episode with Ben Wright here!



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