Dance night with Diallo up Friday

Juno award-winning Alpha Yaya Diallo brings the sounds of West Africa to the Comox Valley.

As a child growing up in Guinea, West Africa, Alpha Yaya Diallo was surrounded by music. His family moved around frequently to various regions, exposing him to a variety of cultures and musical traditions from the Malenke, Sousou and his own Foulani people and he was eager to soak up as much as he could.

"I started playing music when I was very young," says Diallo. "At first, I was playing percussion with different kinds of sticks and then I started making my own guitar with electrical cables. My mom got me my first guitar. I kept playing it while listening to different kinds of local music and jamming with friends on the street."

These early influences transformed Diallo into a multi-talented artist – a guitarist, singer, songwriter – whose dexterous acoustic and electric guitar-playing, with its fluid melodic lines and compelling grooves, places him in the front ranks of African musicians.

Diallo is performing during the Winter-Bites Festival in Comox Valley on Jan. 17 as part of the West African Dance Night at Best Western Plus the Westerly Hotel & Convention Centre, in Courtenay.

The four-time Juno award winner moved to Vancouver in 1991 after playing the Vancouver Folk Festival.

WinterBites Festival is Jan. 16 to 31. Tickets for West African Dance Night are $25 and are on sale now at winterbitesfestival. com (Doors open at 8 p.m., show at 9 p.m. in the Best Western Plus the Westerly Hotel & Convention Centre.)