Much of the music we listen to and the instruments used to make it is taken for granted by audiences and musicians alike. Kafari and Jake Hoffmann reveal the histories of their instruments (the bones and banjo) and the music they make in both objective and personal terms. Furthermore, what does it mean to play them today? As a black man, can Kafari play music on his own terms? As a white man, can Jake play music with honor that has history both to be proud of and deserves reconciliation? Kafari is a pianist, beatmaker, and bluegrass percussionist, specializing in the rhythm bones – an ancient instrument played by holding two in one hand, flicking the wrist forward and backward to create sound. He first became inspired to play the bones three and a half years ago after seeing a concert that debunked his assumptions about bluegrass and exposed him to the African-American roots of traditional bluegrass and old-time music. A resident of Portland since 2011, Kafari enjoys teaching bones to passersby on the city streets and in classrooms across the state.
Multi-instrumentalist and singer, Jake Hoffman was raised on jazz and rock n roll and spent his adulthood studying American folk musics. He has toured in 20 states and 11 countries — performing and teaching ballads, gospel and dance music from Appalachia and the American South. A community arts and cultural exchange advocate, Jake has lived in the Portland area since 2009 and is a teaching artist and program manager with 317 Main Community Music Center. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx