The African All-Stars Festival in New York

New York, USA – For the first time in its legendary history of African music support, world music club SOB’s will be presenting a four night African All-Stars Music Festival July 24th through July 27th featuring Monday, July 24th, with
Konono #1
, Thomas Mapfumo and Blacks Unlimited, Kékélé and its monthly party Jump N’ Funk featuring the Brooklyn Funk Essentials aka BFE Sound System.

The Festival opens Monday, July 24th, with Konono #1, a band from an area on the border of Congo and Angola, who play with traditional and not so traditional instruments including pots, pans and old car parts. Their repertoire draws largely on
Bazombo trance music, but they’ve had to incorporate the originally unwanted distortions of their sound system. This has made them develop a unique style that, from a sonic viewpoint, has accidentally connected them with the aesthetics of the most experimental forms of rock and electronic music. Two shows: Doors:7:00 PM, Show: 8:00 PM & Doors:10:00 PM,Show: 10:30 PM.
Admission: $25 Advance, $28 Day of concert.

Tuesday. July 25th,  Thomas Mapfumo and Blacks Unlimited continue the series with his electronic interpretations of traditional mbira music consisting of electric guitars, horns, and a drum kit. With his electronic interpretations of traditional mbira music he became a huge star in Zimbabwe. Some of his lyrics addressed the struggle for independence the white Rhodesian government felt threatened by his popularity. As a result, in 1977, Mapfumo was detained in prison for 90 days because of his song Hokoya (Watch Out). He and his band, The Blacks Unlimited now tour widely. In fact, Mapfumo has appeared at S.O.B.’s a number of times, and is a regular staff pick.
Two shows: Doors:7:00 PM, Show: 8:00 PM & Doors:10:00 PM, Show: 10:30 PM. Admission: $20 Advance, $22 Day of concert.

Wednesday, July 26th,  Kékélé takes the stage. Kékélé is a Lingala word for a fibrous vine that climbs trees in the tropical forests of the Congo River basin. Ropes woven from  Kékélé are still used in some places to build bridges across forest streams. By calling their group
, Papa Noel, Syran Mbenza, Wuta-Mayi, Nyboma Mwan Dido, Jean-Papy Ramazani, Loko Massengo, Bumba Massa and Yves Ndjock
are thinking of their long career paths as strands woven together to make something strong, something that spans divisions – geography, generations, genres – and allows musicians to continue on their journey, and to return home to their musical origins: Congolese Rumba. The golden era for Rumba Congolaise – an irresistible mix of Cuban rumba and African rhythms – was in the sixties, when it reflected the optimism of the newly independent African nations.

Kékélé has succeeded in bringing this sound back to life, featuring many of the musicians from the classic orchestras of that era. Enchanting vocals, vivacious rhythms and spellbinding guitar-based dance make the Congolese Rumba totally uplifting and joyous. This is the classic Congo sound before the rhythmic intensity of soukous overpowered its subtlety. Two shows: Doors:7:00 PM, Show: 8:00 PM
& Doors:10:00 PM, Show: 10:30 PM. Admission: $20 Advance, $22 Day of concert.

The Festival concludes with the all-out hot dance jam, Jump N’ Funk, the Fela Kuti Afrobeat party with a rockin’ live performance by über urban collective The BFE Sound System. The BFE Sound System is an organic outgrowth of Brooklyn Funk Essentials – one of New York’s spearheading acid jazz outfits from the early nineties. Originally conceived by Arthur Baker and Lati Kronlund as a series of studio jam sessions, the group soon turned into a 12-piece live outfit consisting of some of the finest young musicians, singers, rappers, dub poets
and dj’s the Big Apple has to offer. The new version of the band is more free-form electro-dub and psychedelic afro-house jam and the line-up is flexible. The core group consists of Hanifah Walidah, Papa Dee and Everton Sylvester (vocals), Lati Kronlund (laptop, guitar & keys), Desmond Foster (vocals & guitar), Iwan van Hetten (trumpet & keys) and Philippe Monrose (drums & percussion), but guests will be welcome on stage and in the studio. A first single, S-Curved is planned for release in the summer of 2006, which will be followed by the group playing a few select shows in Europe and the USA. A new album is in the making and is expected out by late fall 2006. Doors:7:00 PM, Show: 8:00 PM. Admission: $7 and $5 with flyer,

Tickets are available for The African All-Stars Music Festival online or by phone through Ticketmaster. Or, visit the SOB’s box office in person for advance tickets sales. SOB’s is located at 204 Varick St. @ Houston, 1 Train to Houston Phone: 212-243-4940.

Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central