Ranky Tanky gets funky with a free, outdoor concert at Coastal Carolina


Ranky Tanky. Photo by Reese Moore

Hurricane Florence might have delayed it, but she can’t stop the funk now.

Nationally acclaimed band Ranky Tanky will bring its mix of jazz, gospel, Gullah and funk music to the CCU campus for a free, outside performance on Prince Lawn on Thursday, May 9, at 8 p.m. The public is welcome to attend and bring lawn chairs and blankets. It marks the first time in recent history CCU has held a free, outdoor public concert.

The CCU performance, taking place the night before Commencement, is rescheduled from October 2018, when the concert was canceled due to the effects of Hurricane Florence. The original event was scheduled for Wheelwright Auditorium and came with a price tag of $17, but the revised, rescheduled event is open to the public and free of charge.

“When we started considering dates to reschedule the concert, Ranky Tanky happened to have an opening the day before our graduation ceremonies,” said Amy Tully, professor in the Department of Music and associate dean of the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts, who is responsible for scheduling cultural arts events. “So, we decided, what better way to celebrate the end of the semester than with an outdoor, family-friendly concert that everyone could enjoy? It’s not often that the timing during the semester works for an outdoor concert, so we jumped at the opportunity.”

In the meantime, the band’s star has only grown brighter over the past six months, as Ranky Tanky performed on NBC’s “Today” show in March 2019, has maintained a busy international tour schedule and recently released a new single titled “Freedom.”

Ranky Tanky released its eponymous debut in October 2017, and within two months, the group had been profiled on NPR’s “Fresh Air with Terry Gross” and the album had reached the top of the Billboard, iTunes and Amazon jazz charts.

Quentin Baxter, Kevin Hamilton, Charlton Singleton, and Clay Ross first came together as a musical group in 1988 to form a seminal jazz quartet. Then, united after years apart and acquiring a deeper understanding of home, these accomplished artists reconvened in 2017, joined by vocalist Quiana Parler, to form Ranky Tanky.

“Ranky Tanky bring new life to Gullah Geechee songs once thought lost,” said musicologist Eric Crawford, director of CCU’s Charles Joyner Institute for Gullah and African Diaspora Studies and associate professor in the Department of Music.

Crawford emphasizes the authenticity and tradition of particular techniques and themes conveyed in the band’s music.

“Ranky Tanky’s minimalistic approach to instrumentation in many of their songs recaptures the a cappella singing tradition of Gullah Geechee spirituals long ago, when the only accompaniment was the hand, foot, and on a good day, a stick,” he said. “The ensemble allows us to heart without interference the bent notes of the singer and the low, rhythmic pulse born of West Africa.”

Free parking is available across campus for the event. Prince Lawn is located in the center of the Conway campus between the Wall, Edwards, Prince and Smith buildings. In the event of rain, the concert will be held inside Wheelwright Auditorium on Spadoni Park Circle.

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