Chris Berry Trio, with Aaron Johnston, from left, Chris Berry and Jesse Murphy, play Thursday at Ghost Ranch Saloon. Michael Kang, of String Cheese Incident, will join the band.

Courtesy photo

Chris Berry Trio, with Aaron Johnston, from left, Chris Berry and Jesse Murphy, play Thursday at Ghost Ranch Saloon. Michael Kang, of String Cheese Incident, will join the band.

Chris Berry Trio offers African beats

Group plays Thursday at Ghost Ranch Saloon

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If you go

What: Chris Berry Trio with special guest Michael Kang

When: 9 p.m. Thursday

Where: Ghost Ranch Saloon, 56 Seventh St.

Cost: $15 at the door

Call: 879-9898

photo

Courtesy photo

Chris Berry studied music in Africa for about 10 years before returning stateside to form an African-influenced band, Panjea. His new project, Chris Berry Trio, updates Panjea's sound with electronic dance rhythms. The group plays Thursday at Ghost Ranch Saloon.

Chris Berry Trio featuring Michael Kang


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Editor's note: This story has been corrected from its original version. The Chris Berry Trio plays at 9 p.m. Thursday at Ghost Ranch Saloon.

It was the rhythms on a shoplifted cassette tape that first married Chris Berry’s ear to traditional African music.

He was 14, and the cassette landed in his hands when a friend gave it to him. By 19, Berry had found his way to Africa to immerse himself in the rhythms he found on that tape.

On Thursday at Ghost Ranch Saloon, Berry will bring the decade-long musical education he absorbed on that journey with him to the stage, as he fronts a relatively new African beat-based dance project, the Chris Berry Trio. Doors to the show open at 9 p.m., and admission is $15.

The group comprises Berry on vocals, Mbira — an African instrument with metal keys — and percussion with past and present Brazilian Girls members Aaron Johnston on drums and Jesse Murphy on bass. Brazilian Girls is an electronica and pop band based in New York that scored a nomination for Best Electronica/Dance Album at the 51st annual Grammy Awards.

“It’s a trio featuring members of the Brazilian Girls, and they bring a whole electronic thing to the vibe. So it’s African grooves and catchy songs with a big electronic feel and bass-y sounds, and we play with a lot of loops,” Berry said.

Part of the plan with Chris Berry Trio, or CB-3, is to bring in different guest musicians to solo on top of the trio’s solid rhythm on each tour. Coming through Colorado, Berry will bring Michael Kang to the mix. Kang plays violin and mandolin in String Cheese Incident.

“With him, it gets really jammy, and it opens up into really exciting territory,” Berry said about Kang’s solo work.

The newest iteration of Chris Berry Trio plays a style that breaks from Berry’s training in traditional African rhythms.

“I would say it’s really different just because the musicians make it different. I’ve always been on the more organic side of music, and in this situation it’s more mixing African rhythms with electronic technology,” Berry said.

During his 10 years performing and studying in Africa, Berry sold more than a million albums, becoming a minor celebrity after appearing on a program he described as an African version of “American Idol.” When he got back to the states, Berry put out Afro-Beat music with a group called Panjea. His new trio keeps the same base but adds a more dance-oriented groove, he said.

“Panjea is a little more traditional, and this has a lot of modern elements to it. I guarantee people haven’t heard music like this before,” he said.

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