The American debut of Staff Benda Bilili — scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 14, at Three Stages at Folsom Lake College — has fallen prey to the difficulties inherent in international travel. The entire North American tour, 16 cities in all, including New York and Los Angeles, has been canceled due to “bureaucratic red tape and the complexities of dealing with the US Embassy in Kinshasa,” according to the band’s agency, Monterey International.
In place of the originally scheduled Wednesday concert, Three Stages has arranged to present an advance screening of Benda Bilili!, the documentary film of the band slated for national distribution by National Geographic later this month. The Three Stages screening will be offered free of charge. The Three Stages’ screening on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 7:30 p.m., will occur the same night as the United States premiere of the film in Washington, D.C. Go to threestages.net for more information.
The band is lead by four vocalist/guitarists, each of whom is paraplegic: victims of polio at a young age, they get around and perform on “spectacular customized tricycles.” The rest of the ensemble — the acoustic backing band, including a one-string electric lute made from a tin can — is made up of abandoned street kids, raised on the streets of Kinshasa, Congo.
Three Stages Executive Director Dave Pier noted that, “International touring has been very difficult for artists since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Staff Benda Bilili is represented by one of the top artist agencies in the country; Monterey International won the Pollstar Independent Booking Agency of the Year Award in 2011. If these visa snafus can happen to them, they can happen to anyone. We regret any inconvenience to our patrons, and hope to bring Staff Benda Bilili back to Folsom when the time is right and the issuance of visas is assured.”
Patrons who purchased tickets to the concert on Sept. 14 are being contacted and will be issued a full refund. For questions or more information about ticket refunds contact the Ticket Office at (916) 608-6888 or e-mail [email protected]