Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ayibobo! Boukman Eksperyans Returns to the New York City Stage

We walked into S.O.B.’s in New York Monday night and saw Boukman Eksperyans getting ready to go onstage. Boukman blasted onto world stages and on Mango Records in the early 1990s with their soulful, joyful mizik rasin (roots) pop sound straight out of Haiti. We went right up front to find Lolo Beaubran, the band’s co-leader (along with his wife, Mimerose). There he was with his long dreadlocks longer, his goatee grayer, but the same playful smile. He proclaimed, “We’re still here.”


Boukman put on a crackling set of almost all new repertoire. If you saw them back in the day, one of the puzzling things was their choice to use a drum machine but no trap drums. No longer. The band has grown in size and sound with Lolo’s son on traps and a trio of percussionists playing brightly-painted, traditional Haitian drums. They have also added a keyboard player, but a tasteful one (not always the case in many bands!). And they had a couple of 20-something rappers who got their turns in the spotlight. I especially enjoyed their percussion jam.

Boukman opened with a beautiful, somber a capela song with the word “misere” in it. I assumed this was a prayer for all those lost in the tragic earthquake. I don’t speak Kreol, but I know that Boukman’s recurring themes are the celebration of the Haitian vodou spirit world and Lolo’s radical politics. Lolo’s performance style expresses both ecstasy and pain.

The mixed crowd of Haitian-Americans and hard core Boukman fans were feeling the spirit that night at S.O.B.’s. And when they struck up a song from their debut international release, Vodou Adjae (Mango, 1991), everyone cheered and shouted “Ayibobo!” (like “Amen!”) and jumped around the dance floor.

Check out Google to find out more about Boukman Eksperyans’ fascinating story, including its carnival song in 1990 that rallied people against the military regime. Boukman also played a key role in raising positive consciousness about vodou in national and international spheres.

--Sean Barlow


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mapfumo and Chipaumire in BOSTON

First, to state the obvious: I am a terrible blogger. I launched the Afropop Blog (under my own name, yet) in November, but after a short flurry of activity, I went dead—hence the inevitable name change…

But, you know, although I do not take enough time to blog about it, I do lead a live loaded with music and adventure. One reason I’ve been laying low is that I am editing the over-long manuscript of my Zimbabwe book, a biography of Thomas Mapfumo. So that’s my subject today.

On Friday, April 23, Sean Barlow and I attended an amazing performance art piece created by Zimbabwean modern dancer Nora Chipaumire with Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited. The band (minus a drummer) sat among candles behind a thin screen, and Chipaumire and her foil (Burikina Faso-born dancer Soulemane Badolo) danced to their left, in front of them, and behind them. Through much of the performance, images and light were projected on the screen—leaves rustling, birds flying, buildings, images of Chipaumire. The effect was unusual, and at times absolutely magical.

The band sounded terrific, the lack of drums revealing all the snaking, internal lines of the music in a remarkable way, and with nearly all of the 6 musicians singing, the male vocal mix was choice. There were new and old songs in the program, and at one point the production segued into a recorded song with the whole band (“Wachiona Chorombo” from Chimurenga Explosion). When the song ended, the live band played on making a smooth transition back to the main event.

Chipaumire’s movements are big and expressive, part whimsy, part angst—like Zimbabwe itself. Especially beautiful was what she called “Liberation tango,” a dance in which she and Badolo became spectacularly entwined and moved as one as the band played one of its most lyrical new (and unreleased) compositions.

These photos are from 2008 when Chipaumire and an even smaller version of the Blacks Unlimited previewed this idea in New York. Since then, they’ve worked hard, and the result is deeply moving, and well worth seeing.

We caught the show in Boston, where it did a 3-night stand at the Institute of Contemporary Art. More to come, including 2 nights at Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts in Brooklyn, May 21 and 22.

Banning Eyre

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rokia Traore Live Performance Video!

Today we have some special goodies for all you afropoppers out there, in the form of some wonderful video we shot at Rokia Traore's soulful performance at Highline ballroom this past weekend.

Rokia was in top form with a killin' international band featuring, in particular, an exceptionally fantastic bassist who introduced himself to me simply as "Disco" (aka Christophe Minck).

Driven by Rokia's beautifully unique personality both as a singer and songwriter, the set ranged from some old school Miriam Makeba to funky bass breakdowns and unexpected hard rocking interludes.

All this combined with Rokia's captivating beauty and charming stage presence made it one of the most thoroughly enjoyable concerts in recent memory.

-Gabriel and the whole gang here at Afropop



Wednesday, April 14, 2010

$5.00 Off Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars Tonight at Highline

Not only can you get $5.00 off the price of admission to the Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars tonight at Highline Ballroom (and we highly suggest that you do just that), but Janka Nabay and Bajah + the Dry Eye Crew will be opening for them. Below are a few videos to whet your appetite.


See you there...





Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fantastic King Sunny Ade Vid From 1984

Gabe came across this gem while doing a little research for us on Nigerian artists. It's the one and only King Sunny Ade holding court in London, in 1984. It was KSA that blew Sean Barlow's mind in 1983 and lead to the creation of Afropop. Here, a year later, KSA's still killin' 'em.

Sean would like to remind everyone that KSA will be in NYC at the HighLine Ballroom on May 18...

Now, have your mind blown...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Exclusive Video from Senegal's 50th Anniversary Parade in Dakar

I was lucky to be in Dakar on Sunday April 4th, when Senegal celebrated its 50th Anniversary of Independence. They told me Independence Days were usually when the army, police, gendarmes and navy brass bands got to show their stuff. And this day was no different. I love brass bands so I was happy. Then the planes buzzed overhead and the sabar groups performed their polyrhythmic fury. Presiding over the whole scene was President Abdoulaye Wade and eight African heads of state. I slipped out of the security perimeter and enjoyed hanging out on the street corner where the just plain folks enjoyed their holiday.








Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sean's Video from Senegal: Awadi Among Senegalese Superstars to Perform in NYC Tonight; DC on MON

Sean and Banning have just headed up to the Skirball Center in Manhattan to interview Awadi, part of the famed Senegalese Hip Hop duo Positive Black Soul. He will be one of many superstars in NYC tonight and DC on Monday as part of the Concert for Peace Tolerance and Understanding: USA-Senegal. (See below for a full press release on the event, which will make its way back to Dakar for a Megaconcert in May.)

Sean actually got Flipcam video of Awadi performing in Senegal last weekend as part of his trip to celebrate the country's 50th Anniversary...



Concert for Peace, Tolerance, and Understanding

Emerging Senegalese Superstars Play New York, Washington DC, and Dakar

Leading Senegalese artists are scheduled to perform at a series of free concerts in the United States and Senegal for Peace Tolerance, and Understanding, as part of an exchange program to promote mutual understanding between our two countries. The program is being conducted by the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal and the Senegalese Ministry of Culture.

A total of three concerts will take place at the following locations: New York University’s (NYU) Skirball Center in New York on April 8th, 2010 (doors open at 7 PM; 2-hour show at 8 PM); Cramton Auditorium at Howard University, Washington DC, on April 12th, 2010 (doors open at 6 PM; 2-hour show at 7 PM); and at the 60,000 seat Stade Léopold Senghor (aka Stade de l’Amitié) in Dakar, Senegal, on May 12th, 2010 (doors open at 6 PM; 5-hour show at 8 PM).

Concerts will feature leading Senegalese artists across a spectrum of musical genres: hip hop group Positive Black Soul, “Golden Voice” Abdou Guitté Seck, Ma Sané of Waflash, and “angel” voiced Titi. In Dakar, the five artists will be joined by well-known legends of Senegalese music, including Youssou N’Dour, Baba Maal, Omar Pene, and others: Pape Diouf, Mame Balla, Abou Thioubalo, Carlou D, the Julien Jouga Christian Choir, and an Islamic music group. DJ Xuman and MC DJ Boubs will open the show.

The five Senegalese artists will return home to share their experience of America and discuss the multitude of cultures, races, and religions that thrive in the United States.

Additional concert details are provided below:

U.S. Concerts

New York, April 8, 2010, at New York University’s Skirball Center

Washington D.C., April 12, 2010, at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium

The two concerts on April 8, 2010, at New York University’s Skirball Center and on April 12, 2010, at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium in Washington DC, will feature four groups, including three of Senegal’s newer, most popular stars, whose performances will symbolize the diversity in Senegalese music – from hip-hop to mbalax and bougarabou to reggae beats.

Positive Black Soul
Positive Black Soul, the hip-hop duo of Didier Awadi and Duggy Tee, will headline the concert ( They recently reunited after some time apart. Bound by music and their common ideals of Afrocentrism and peace and democracy, the two musicians have become African hip-hop role models and leaders in their communities and perform their hits in French, Wolof, the main language in Senegal, and in English.

Titi (Ndeye Fatou Tine) ( is also known as ‘Titi l’ange’ (‘Titi the Angel’) for her glorious voice singing to Mbalax rythms. Titi has gained critical acclaim for her music and been in great demand to share the stage with several Senegalese top stars. She recently won the prestigious SUNUMUSIC Best Female Singer Award.

Ma Sané
Ma Sané and her all-male group Waflash is one of West Africa’s loveliest, gentle singers ( Since she started the group with childhood friends in the 1990s, Waflash has known great success. Their sounds reflect a broad range of influences, blending African and Western musical genres: Senegalese mbalax and bougarabou, soul, jazz, Afrobeat, hip-hop, reggae.

Abdou Guité Seck Abdou Guité Seck is also referred to as “The Golden Voice” and “the future of Senegalese music” ( Prior to launching his solo career, Abdou Guité became the lead vocal singer for the Franco-Senegalese group Wock, which signature sound combined mbalax with rock. The group performed at Festival des Nuits Métisses, North Sea Jazz Festival, Montreux Jazz Festival, and Festival International de Jazz de St. Louis. Abdou Guité won the 2000 RFI Découvertes Award and was nominated in 2001 for the best world music album category in the French Music Awards in Paris. Abdou Guité has embarked on his solo career with his new band, Evolution, and has won numerous awards with several solo albums and huge commercial success in Senegal and beyond. His abiding themes continue to explore childhood, love, hope, education, and universal peace.

Concert in Dakar
The “Concert de la Paix, la Tolérance, et l’Entente” will be held at the Léopold Sédar Senghor Stadium, on May 12, 2010.

The line-up for the five-hour free concert includes: Youssou N’Dour, PBS, Ma Sané, Titi, Abdou Guité Seck, Omar Pene, Baaba Maal, Pape Diouf, Mame Balla, Carlou D, Abou Thioubalo, the Julien Jouga Christian choir and an Islamic music group, DJ Xuman, and MC DJ Boubs.
Artists’ high-resolution jpegs available upon request

TRUE Media Contact:

How To Obtain Free Tickets For US Concerts:

Ticket RSVP for NYU Skirball Center performance:

Concerts for Peace, Tolerance and Understanding – Featuring Positive Black Soul, Abdou Guitte Seck, Titi, Ma Sane

NYU Skirball Center – Thursday, April 8th

RSVP by email for free tickets:

Type “RSVP – Peace” in the subject heading; in body of email provide full name and indicate 1 or 2 tickets (Limit: 2 tickets per person)

Tickets for guests with RSVP will be available at no cost at the NYU Skirball Center box office (Noon-6pm, Tues-Sat) beginning Wednesday, April 7th

RSVP tickets are free, but are “first come first served”

General admission / Doors open at 7pm – Concert at 8pm


Ticket RSVP for Howard University Cramton Auditorium performance:

Concerts for Peace, Tolerance and Understanding – Featuring Positive Black Soul, Abdou Guitte Seck, Titi, Ma Sane

Howard University Cramton Auditorium – Monday, April 12th

RSVP by email for free tickets:

Type “RSVP – Peace” in the subject heading; in body of email provide full name and indicate 1 or 2 tickets (Limit: 2 tickets per person)

Tickets for guests with RSVP will be available at no cost at the Howard University box office (10am-6pm, M-F) beginning Friday, April 9th

RSVP tickets are free, but are “first come first served``

General admission / Doors open at 6pm – Concert at 7pm

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hot Senegalese Videos

Coming up very soon, Sean will be releasing a wealth of information on his experience in Senegal, where he traveled last weekend for the country's 50th Anniversary.

For now, Gabe's pulled together a great collection of Senegalese vids in honor of last weekend's celebration, including this great video from Orchestra Baobab:

Check out all of the YouTube links that Gabe gathered.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Timbila Record Release @ DROM Tonight!

Banning's Band. Timbila. Bootie' Shakin'. DROM. Tonight. 'Nuff Said...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Orquestra Contemporanea de Olinda

Sean is now on his way to JFK to fly to Senegal (keep your eyes on Newsflashes for more on that), but before he left, he wanted to point out that the hot Orquestra Contemporanea de Olinda from the Northeast of Brazil make their NYC debut tonight at Lincoln Center and Saturday at SOB’s.

Here's a video of the band...