DEBO & FENDIKA, NORTH AMERICAN TOUR
[DUNKELBUNT]
A NEW DAY; LAYA PROJECT REMIXED
ADDIS ACOUSTIC PROJECT
AFRO ROOTS WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL
AMADOU & MARIAM
ANTÓNIO ZAMBUJO
APHRODESIA
BALKANBEATS
BANCO DE GAIA
BOBAN I MARKO MARKOVIC ORKESTAR
BOBAN I MARKO MARKOVIC
BOY WITHOUT GOD
C.J. CHENIER
CARLOS GOGO GOMEZ
CHOBAN ELEKTRIK
CHOPTEETH
CHRISTIANE D
CHRISTINE VAINDIRLIS
CLARA PONTY
COPAL
CUCHATA
DAMJAN KRAJACIC
DANIEL CROS
DEBO & FENDIKA
DEL CASTILLO
DR JAYANTHI KUMARESH
EARTHRISE SOUNDSYSTEM
EGYPT NOIR
ELIN FURUBOTN
EMILY SMITH
FANFARE CIOCARLIA VS. BOBAN & MARKO MARKOVIC
FEUFOLLET
FIAF PRESENTS WORLD NOMADS MOROCCO: MUSIC
FOOTSTEPS IN AFRICA
GECKO TURNER
GENTICORUM
GEOFF BERNER
GIANMARIA TESTA
GODS ROBOTS
GUARCO
HUUN HUUR TU
INDIAN OCEAN
IRENE JACOB & FRANCIS JACOB
JANAKA SELEKTA
JANYA
JERRY LEAKE
JOAQUIN DIAZ
JOEL RUBIN
JORGE STRUNZ
JOSEF KOUMBAS
JOYFUL NOISE (I GRADE RECORDS)
JUST A BAND
KAMI THOMPSON
KARTICK & GOTAM
KHALED
KHING ZIN & SHWE SHWE KHAING
KITKA'S CAUCASIAN CONNECTIONS PROJECT PERFORMANCES AND WORKSHOPS
KMANG KMANG
KOTTARASHKY AND THE RAIN DOGS
LA CHERGA
LAC LA BELLE
LAYA PROJECT
LENI STERN
LES TRIABOLIQUES
LISTEN FOR LIFE
LOBI TRAORÉ
LO'JO
LOKESH
MAGNIFICO
MAHALA RAI BANDA
MIDNITE
MOHAMMED ALIDU AND THE BIZUNG FAMILY
MR. SOMETHING SOMETHING
MY NAME IS KHAN
NAWAL
NAZARENES
NO STRANGER HERE (EARTHSYNC)
OCCIDENTAL BROTHERS ON TOUR
OCCIDENTAL GYPSY
OREKA TX
ORQUESTRA CONTEMPORÂNEA DE OLINDA
PABLO SANCHEZ
PEDRO MORAES
RAYA BRASS BAND
SALSA CELTICA
SAMITE
SARA BANLEIGH
SARAH AROESTE
SELAELO SELOTA
SHYE BEN-TZUR
SIA TOLNO
SIBIRI SAMAKE
SISTER FA
SLIDE TO FREEDOM II
SONIA BREX
SOSALA
SWEET ELECTRA
SYSTEMA SOLAR
TAGA SIDIBE
TAJ WEEKES
TARANA
TARUN NAYAR
TE VAKA
TELEPATH
THE MOUNTAIN MUSIC PROJECT
THE NATIVE AMERICA NORTH SHOWCASE
THE SPY FROM CAIRO
TITO GONZALEZ
TOUSSAINT
VARIOUS ARTISTS
VARIOUS ARTISTS
WATCHA CLAN
WHEN HARRY TRIES TO MARRY SOUNDTRACK
WOMEXIMIZER
WOMEXIMIZER
ZDOB SI ZDUB
ZIETI
Debo & Fendika, North American Tour
Elevated Grooves: Classic Tunes, Spirited Moves, and the New Energy of Ethiopia Power Debo Band and Fendika on Summer Tour, July 2011

“They lifted the band off the stage,” exclaims Danny Mekonnen, the Ethiopian-American founder of Debo Band (deboband.com), recalling the group’s first moments performing with the Ethiopian dancers and musicians of Fendika.

“From the first entrance, they just elevated the band,” reflects Mekonnen. “It’s the kind of thing you can’t hear directly on the recording, but that energy is there.”

On tour this July at venues and festivals across North America, Debo Band and Fendika explore raucous yet technically complex territory defined by decades of striking Ethiopian dance sounds. The tour includes performances at the Montreal Jazz Festival (July 1), Boston’s Museum of Fine Art (July 27), Los Angeles's Levitt Pavilion (August 5), The Kennedy Center (August 8), Lincoln Center Out of Doors (August 11), and Chicago’s SummerDance (August 13) and Old Town School of Music (August 14).  

Debo Band is not about Afro-funk revival, recreating some mythical gilded age of Ethiopian pop. Taking cues from vintage and contemporary artists unsung in the West, they unleash rolling grooves, serpentine melody lines, and urgently joyful vocals, while Fendika take the energy up a notch, turning traditional dances into gravity-defying moments of pure spirit.

***

Debo began learning “Belomi Benna,” a hard-grooving classic with soaring bursts of brass and insistent bass, in the dark cold of a Boston winter. Mekonnen, who grew up listening to his émigré parents’ extensive record collection and later dug deep into Ethiopian music history, coaxed the group of veteran klezmer, avant-garde jazz, noise rock, and classically trained musicians to find the right feel.

“’You’ve never seen these guys in Fendika,’ I told the band,” Mekonnen remembers with a smile. “They are going to kick butt up there.”

Then Debo arrived in Addis Ababa, in a nightclub filled with local elites. Fendika’s veteran dancer Melaku Belay and his colleagues leaped into action. Everything fell into place.

Belay and colleagues have found the right mix of roots and edge, of innovation and showmanship, right down to vibrant costumes recalling Ethiopia’s many regional traditions. And their presence takes Debo’s hard-swaying jams to new places. Along with the powerful, nimble voice of Fendika’s Selamnesh Zemene and effortless intricacies of drummer Asrat Ayalew, the dancers’ intensity pushes the band to new heights.  

The synergy flows from the two groups’ shared ideas and creative chemistry. When Mekonnen first met Belay for coffee at an Addis Ababa café, they clicked instantly. The young man from America and the Addis Ababa native realized they had the same artistic vision.

“We were coming from same place,” recalls Mekonnen, now based in Boston. “You can only have that kind of conversation when you find an equal, someone who’s headed in the same direction as an artist.”

This direction encompasses the vast resources of Ethiopia’s long-thriving, highly creative pop, jazz, rock, funk, and roots scenes, the music profiled on the Ethiopiques series and long treasured by music fans across the diaspora. Debo Band has turned not only to funk icons like Mahmoud Ahmed, but also to lesser-known ensembles like the Haile Selassie Theater Orchestra, a swinging big band with creative instrumentation, a broad sonic palette, and an Armenian maestro.

Ethiopia’s lively, cosmopolitan scenes didn’t fade with African artists’ interest in jazz, James Brown, or the sounds of rock psychedelia. They survived famine and war. Many talented musicians came back to Addis Ababa from around the globe in the 1990s and 2000s. Returnee artists like arranger and Debo Band inspiration Abegaz Shiota began forging a new Ethiopian sound and energy. One that Mekonnen and Debo Band felt intimately as they played around Addis Ababa, and one that the group transmits beautifully to American audiences. 

“Everyone in Debo Band and Fendika is coming to the table with their own energy and lending it to the performance,” Mekonnen muses. “Instead of analyzing and recreating these classic songs, we’re pulling out their energy and using it to create something new, including originals. Working Fendika, with dancers, makes this easy.”

<< release: 07/01/11 >>

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