Sweet Plantain offers something for everyone

Kara Perkins/Sun Star Reporter
Nov. 8, 2011

Not your typical string quartet, Sweet Plantain’s music tries bridging the gap between generations and musical genres.

Sweet Plantain performed in many places — but never Alaska. FCA’s Anne Biberman did some scouting in New York, followed by Scott McCrea, FCA president. They both loved the group and were eventually able to get them on the schedule for a performance in Fairbanks.

Sweet Plantain will be performing at UAF’s Davis Concert Hall Saturday, Nov. 12 at 8 p.m.

“The music that we play is constantly getting comments from all ages and backgrounds complementing our music,” said David Gotay, manager and cellist for Sweet Plantain.

The five-year-old group plays the type of music its members are passionate about. This results in a fusion of Latin, classical, jazz and improvisational styles, according to Anne Biberman, Fairbanks Concert Association’s executive director.

Sweet Plantain originated from a mission to play Latin American music, but has developed into something more diverse. “Classical music became the group’s inspiration,” Gotay said.

“Hip-hop, jazz-fusion, and rock-and-roll became natural and we were comfortable expressing ourselves through strings,” Gotay said.

The group is proud of the fact that they are able to reach a wide range of people through their music. Once, an elderly man was was surprised to enjoy an element of hip-hop in the group’s style, Gotay recalled.

Outreach and musical education is part of the group’s commitment. Sweet Plantain developed a musical program in New York City’s South Bronx, a neighborhood that is ranked as having one of the highest poverty levels in the United States, Biberman wrote in an email.

Additionally, the group partnered with Tony Bennett’s “Exploring Arts” program to host high school music internships, allowing public high school students to rehearse and perform with the group.

Sweet Plantain gained popularity and worked with big names such as Sheryl Crow, K.D. Lang, Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Beyonce, The Strokes, Rihanna, and Kanye West.

Each musician brings varied elements to the group with backgrounds in heavy-metal violin, orchestral-style viola, hip-hop and classical-style cello.

The group, who was in Anchorage Nov. 2, was looking forward to performing in Fairbanks, according to Gotay.

“It’s hard to describe the beauty here,” Gotay said. “There is a sense of majesty here and the people have been so welcoming,” he added.

Gotay mentioned that fellow musician Maneein has even bought Carhartts to embrace his Alaska adventure.

FCA is offering free tickets to UAF music majors through their office at 474-8081. Otherwise, tickets are available through AlaskaTix.com, fairbanksconcert.org/tickets and at Grassroots Guitar on College Road. Prices are $38 for adults and $34 for those 25 and younger, 62 and older, or for active military and their families.

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