Generating a well-deserved buzz in NYC’s exploding afrobeat scene, Zongo Junction electrifies dance floors wherever they perform. The Village Voice describes their live show as “Sheer energy with the force of a tractor-trailer that roars with power and noise.” With five horns, and a six-piece rhythm section, audiences can’t help but move no matter where the band is playing.
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, and in an industry where it has become commonplace to watch bands perform with laptops & backing tracks instead of live musicians, Zongo Junction takes the stage 11 strong. "The only thing Zongo Junction has to do to start a legitimate dance party is show up and plug in – anyone within a square block earshot of this Ford-tough funk factory would be hard pressed not to join in the hoopla” says the Bay Area’s SF Station.
Zongo Junction formed in 2009, when drummer and California native, Charles Ferguson, returned from a six-month stay in Ghana, West Africa. “Growing up in the Bay Area, I was exposed to a lot of amazing music from many different cultures, a lot of which had roots in West Africa. As a kid, a few different music teachers introduced me to afrobeat, and the pioneers of the genre—Fela Kuti, Tony Allen, OJ Ekemode, Sunny Ade and others. My love of African music brought me to Ghana in 2008 and when I returned to New York, I knew I wanted to start this band.”
In college at the New School, Charles and a classmate put together a list of friends who they thought would be good fits for the band. Soon after they started rehearsing, Zongo Junction began performing and developing a following in East Coast clubs. They made their first album, Thieves! (2010), which included a collaboration with longtime Fela Kuti band member, Leon Kaleta Ligan-Majek, and quickly began performing at venues & festivals around the country including a residency at Brooklyn Bowl, a main stage performance at the Bear Creek Music & Arts Festival in Florida, and an appearance at the Kennedy Center in DC. More recently the band has collaborated with FELA! cast member Abena Koomson. Members of the band have performed or recorded with TV On The Radio, Man Man, Easy Star All-Stars and The Walkmen, among others.
The band is hard at work recording their second album, scheduled for release in 2013. “In writing this music as a collective, a lot of really cool new influences have emerged,” points out tenor saxophonist Adam Schatz. The music on the album embraces the individual members’ interests, from Dirty Projectors, to Albert Ayler, Wu Tang to Meshuggah. At the music’s core, you will always find the infectiously danceable West African grooves that are the foundation of Zongo Junction. The band effortlessly ties it all together, resulting in a unique version of afrobeat.
For more information visit www.zongojunction.net or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Zongo Junction is:
David Lizmi - Bass
Charles Ferguson - Drums
Morgan Greenstreet - Percussion
Jordan Hyde - Guitar
Ross Edwards - Keys
Adam Schatz - Tenor Saxophone
Matt Nelson - Tenor Saxophone
Jonah Parzen-Johnson - Baritone Saxophone
Aaron Rockers - Trumpet
Kevin Moehringer - Trombone
Sierra and the Nomads
In the summer of 2010, a trip across the country on a Bluebird school bus bound for Burning Man Festival in NV united two cosmic souls: Sierra Carrère and guitarist Jack Star. Accompanied by the rhythmic frenzy of Jack Star’s guitar, the Amazon Queen’s melodic magnificence and uncanny command of rhyme left many a-listener spellbound amidst the Burning Man sands.
When the duo returned to the metropolis of New York, Jack’s big brother, bassist Lennon was then called upon to infuse their sounds with his rumbling, funky bass notes and soon thereafter Lucas Leto the Drummer came forth injecting his infectious beats into the musical groove. Finally, Keyboardist Walker Fee painted his way onto the scene, rounding out the Nomad sound. You will often see them performing with various talented live percussionists.
Modern Soul with a Global groove is how some may describe their music, and when you see them live you will definitely hear an array of styles. Sierra, a six foot tall Amazon moves with the grace of a dancer, sharing her stories and life through notes sung in English and French. From Gypsy to funk, hiphop to rock, reggae to blues- they cover many bases with Sierra's earthy and soulful voice being the constant thread weaving through it all, solidifying their unique sound.
The result of this coalition is a universal groove of powerful energy that will take each listener on a musical ride across the map… with Sierra and the Nomads.
Kwame Binea Shakedown
As diverse and kinetic as the city they call home, Kwame & the Uptown Shakedown have been perfecting their unique blend of soulful rock n’roll since they formed in 2008. A true product of New York City, their music reflects the passion, the energy and the sounds of the city. They stand out - as a multicultural, multigenerational collective whose influences span soul, blues, classic rock, reggae and R+B. Featuring singer/songwriter Kwame Binea, guitarist/songwriter Justin Wilcox, bassist Art Vanterpool, drummer Medley, and saxophonist Quigley , the group is united by a common goal to make simple, soulful, back-to-basics music. “Our music is organic,” says London-born Ghanaian-raised Kwame, “it’s about life, love and struggle but it’s danceable. We make music that moves you and that makes you move.” After leaving blues/rock band ‘The Kause’, Kwame met songwriting partner Justin Wilcox at a recording session in Union City, NJ and the duo moved to Harlem to begin writing and playing together. Initially an acoustic act, the band’s line-up grew naturally as Kwame and Justin met and played with other New York/NJ musicians. As the group got bigger – both literally and sonically - their music began making the walls of the apartment where they rehearsed rattle and so the Uptown Shakedown was born. The band has quickly built a following as diverse as its members. Having played regularly at a number of iconic venues including Sullivan Hall, Kenny’s Castaway and Arlene’s Grocery, the band started playing shows across the East Coast this year as they complete work on their debut LP. Lead single ‘Waiting’ was released earlier this year and has been garnering the band a lot of attention. “I’ve been patient, I’ve been focused, I’ve been waiting for my time to come,” sings Kwame on the track. It seems their time has now arrived.