San Francisco (California), USA – Afrobeat is dense, funky, intricately-layered, groove-heavy music with an intrinsic message – delivered through polyrhythmic beats, the sweat of the dancers, and the power of words. This summer that message will reverberate through California, when the Afrofunk Festival returns after three consecutive years of sold-out shows July 9-26.
The Afrofunk Festival was born in 2005, when Kenyan singer Victor Sila joined forces with Liberian DJ Jeremiah Kpoh. Cresting the wave of the international Afrobeat revival, which shined a media spotlight on bands like Antibalas and artists like Femi Kuti, the AFF tapped into the vibrancy of the San Francisco Bay Area, the epicenter of the United States’ 1980s World Beat craze and current home to bands like Albino, Kotoja, Aphrodesia, and Sila’s own outfit, the AfroFunk Experience. The result was a truly unique event with a righteous, humanitarian cause benefiting at-risk youth in famine- and war-torn regions of East Africa.
In the years since, Afrobeat has continued to grow in popularity, while the AFF has become a cultural institution — not just in the San Francisco Bay Area, but along the West Coast. Now in its fourth year, the AFF (which runs July 9-26) has expanded to venues in Eugene, Seattle, Portland, Ashland, San Luis Obispo, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Santa Bárbara. The AFF tour concludes with three consecutive nights at SF’s at SF’s premier live music club, the Independent."There’s no way we can stop doing the Afrofunk Festival, as long as the crisis facing children in Africa continues," says Sila, emphasizing that his mission has always been to raise cultural and social awareness through music.
This year’s lineup stretches the boundaries of Afrofunk, presenting African, Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Latin variants, alongside nu-funk and classic soul. Performers include AfroFunk Experience, B-Side Players, Rocky Dawuni, Darondo, Nino Moschella, SambaDá, Afrobeat Down, Bayonics, Fuga, Manicato, DJ Jeremiah and the Afrobeat Nation, DJ Vanka, and DJ Felina. (Visit http://www.afrofunk.org for a complete list of performers, dates, and venues.)
The Afrofunk Festival is still a party, so bring your dancing shoes, but this is a party with a conscience; proceeds will benefit House of Hope, an orphanage in Africa that houses children ravaged by famine and disease. Despite international media attention and critically-acclaimed documentaries like Peter Jordan’s Darfur Rising which have increased awareness about the plight of African children, the situation remains grave.
Having spent time in a refugee camp as a youth himself before coming to America, DJ Jeremiah is particularly sympathetic to the struggles of Africa’s children. "This is the best way I know of to focus attention on this important issue. The youth are the future. By helping them, we are giving them the hope for a better life," he says, adding, "what better medium to get this message across than Afrofunk?"
4th Annual Afrofunk Festival. A Benefit for House of Hope, Uganda
When: Thursday, July 24 to Saturday, July 26th. Doors: 8:30PM
Where: The Independent, 628 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
Tickets: $18ADV/$20DOOR/$35VIP. Available at TicketWeb.com. Box Office: 415.771.1421