The Afrobeat Goes On

The summer of Africa continues. World Cup soccer games in South Africa brought fever to the pitch as Ghana nearly topped Uruguay in the quarterfinals, and worldwide, people blew vuvuzelas to the soccer gods. Meanwhile, the New York debut of Fela! — the musical chronicling the life of legendary Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti — gathered three Tony awards en route to an extended Broadway run. Just as Fela brought Africa and the West together in the spirit of funk and revolution, New York band Antibalas has made original connections between Afrobeat music and other global styles over its 12-year history. Although its members have been more focused on live shows (including performances of Fela!), the group is now releasing new tracks and getting out on the road again. In 2004, Antibalas released an album whose title posed a simple but explosive question: Who Is This America? The question still echoes today through U.S. presidential elections, the war in Afghanistan, and the immigration reform debate. The Ropeadope release featured incendiary songs like "Indictment" and "Pay Back Africa," which analyzed political and social injustice. Antibalas also stretched out musically, adding dub treatments and extended jams such as the 12-minute title track. Produced by Bosco Mann of Daptone fame, Who will be reissued in August while the band also drops a new EP featuring a cover of Bob Marley's seminal "Rat Race." With core members Martin Perna (saxophone) and Victor Axelrod (organ, keyboards) at the helm, Antibalas is still a live juggernaut.

The Sway Machinery opens.
Fri., July 16, 9 p.m., 2010

 
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