For the 5th year in a row, Barbès and Electric Cowbell present a Manhattan showcase timed to coincide with the APAP conference. APAP is an annual rite that, every January, brings musicians from around the world to New York. Renamed Secret Planet, this year lineup is particularly spectacular, showcasing talent that will probably not remain so secret for long.
Electric Cowbell is a DC based record label specializing in boutique vinyl releases. Operating under the moniker Multiflora Productions, it is also a multi-faceted agency that specializes in expanding the reach of genre-bending roots-to-the-future music through artist management, event marketing, and music releases. Barbès is a Brooklyn club and record label which just celebrated twelve years of eclectic programming. Its associated label, Barbes Records, is responsible for releasing the likes of Slavic Soul Party, Chico Trujillo, Chicha Libre and Hazmat Modine. Barbès also produces concerts around the city under the name Barbes Presents. Recent concerts have included Ana Tijoux and Las Cafeteras.
Ani Cordero - 7:30pm
Ani Cordero is best known for her work with Pistolera, Os Mutantes and her own band, Cordero. Her new album, Recordar, revisits eleven songs that have shaped Latin American history. Ani reinterprets Folk ballads, protest anthems and love songs from the 1930’s to the 1970’s including Nueva Cancion gems by Violeta Parra and Victor Jara as well as songs by Chavela Vargas, Atahualpa Yupanqui and Ali Primera.
Fiery Balkan brass, throbbing funk grooves, Gypsy accordion wizardry, and virtuoso jazz chops: Slavic Soul Party! is just what it says. Brash and strong as slivovitz, these nine musicians have forged virtuosic new brass band music in the heart of New York City. SSP!'s last five albums are all available from Barbès Records.
If the Talking Heads produced a Fela Kuti record of Sun Ra's music, the product would probably sound something like Brooklyn's Zongo Junction. Their first album, Thieves! (2010), included a collaboration with longtime Fela Kuti band member, Leon Kaleta. Their last album, No discountI (Electric Cowbell) reflects the band members varied interests, from Dirty Projectors, to Albert Ayler, Wu Tang to Meshuggah and represents a unique version of afrobeat.
The most psychedelic of the new East LA bands, Chicano batman, is steeped in Spanish language ballads and Chicano rock. Their super-heroic motto owes as much to Marvel Comics as it does the American labor movement. They draw from a broad range of 60s and early 70s spacey psychedelia, slow-jam soul, bossa nova, samba, surf-rock and cumbia.
Also from the rich East LA scene, Las Cafeteras create a vibrant musical fusion with a community-focused political message. Their sound is inspired by traditional Son Jarocho and uses marimbol, cajon, poetry in English and Spanglish, jarana, requinto, donkey jawbone and a wooden platform called the Tarima. Their politically charged, energy-fueled shows have already made them heroes in LA where they have partnered with the Philharmonic and have shared the stage with the likes of Lila Downs and Juanes.
During the golden years of Ethiopian music, as documented in the Ethiopique series, Hailu Mergia was Ethiopia’s most popular keyboard player. He was also the bandleader for the legendary Wallias Band. In the early 80’s, most members of the Walias band obtained political asylum while on tour in the US. Hailu Mergia settled in DC and spent most of his time driving a taxi until label Awesome Tapes from Africa released one of his lesser known solo album, the amazing Hailu Mergia & his Classical Instrument. He is now, again, a full time musicians, playing in a number of projects including his collaboration with multi-instrumentalist and producer Nikhil P. Yerawadekar of Low Mentality and Antibalas.
Janka Nabay is the king of Bubu – Sierra Leone’s brand of electro-pop. Back in his hometown of Sierra Leone, Janka electrified traditional Bubu music by adding drum machines and synthesizers and giving it a frantic edge that made him a national hero. Now based in the US Janka and his American-born musicians share a similar fascination with the old and the new, mixing modern beats and analog keyboards, improvisation and touches of 70’s psychedelia. The result is musically stimulating and just as danceable as Janka Nabay’s early hits. Luaka bop released their first full-length album a little while back.
Chop & Quench is comprised of members of the cast and band of FELA! the musical. Lead singer Sahr Ngaujah was nominated for a TONY Award for his performance in the Broadway show and the band has gotten to accompany performers such as Beyonce, Femi Kuti, and Angelique Kidjo. Known for their straightforward performances of classic Fela Kuti compositions, they have branched out, bringing their own original music to the stage. After performing around the world, they recently performed at the Sundance Film Festival in conjunction with the premier of Alex Gibney’s film “Finding Fela”. They are working on their first recording since the Fela! Broadway cast recording.