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Kassav’ is to zouk music what Louis Armstrong is to jazz, the Carter Family is to country, and Chuck Berry is to rock & roll. Created in the late 1970s, zouk is a mash-up of carnival-borne rhythms, initially from Guadeloupe, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. Now, it incorporates pan-Caribbean influences, from reggae to salsa, in large part due to Kassav’. For more than 30 years, the Paris-based group has been the genre’s key band, constantly pushing zouk’s musical boundaries while repping the French West Indies through creole lyrics. Kassav’s concerts feel like the carnivals from which its rhythms evolved—loud, spirited bacchanals. But just as the artistry of Armstrong, the Carters, and Berry elevated their styles, Kassav’s musicianship trumps that of an average party band.
Kassav’ performs with Rafrechi at 9 p.m. at Crossroads, 4103 Baltimore Ave., Bladensburg. $30 in advance, $35 at door.