Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Afrobeat Revolution Is Here!




A bit more than a Rough Guide, if you ask us -- actually a great little set that capable shows the range of Afrobeat and and funk in a new generation - Dusty Groove

DJ Andujar and I put our hearts and souls into this one, folks. With a lot of help from my friend DJ Andujar, a man of immense musical knowledge and a willingness to share, I worked on this for over a year, and it shows; and of course we couldn't have done it without all the great bands, musicians, vocalists, and visual artists involved - plus, we couldn't have put together such an awesome package if World Music Network and Phil, Brad, and the rest of their crew hadn't believed in us and had the vision to put out two double albums of afrobeat! In fact, it was arguably the audacious idea to make a double CD of contemporary afrobeat for a label that only ever did single CD compilations that inspired Phil, the head of the label, to make it a two part series, and start his new policy of including a bonus disc from one featured artist, a unique 2 for 1 approach that has everybody talking about how cool the new packaging and marketing of Rough Guides is today! It's a real value, and quite popular with the customers; one you don't see every day and a welcome value in this economic climate. The second bonus disc concept continued with my Rough Guide to Gypsy Music and Merengue, as well as many other new R.G. titles worth checking out.

Every one of the artists on Afrobeat Revolution, including the Fela cover artist Lemi, thought this was a great project and wanted to be a part of it. There are other afrobeat and afrofunk comps out there, and some of the early ones served as my inspiration, to be sure. But there is nothing like Afrobeat Revolution! From the songs to the packaging, we are really proud of this (can't you tell?).

I was glad that graphic magician Lemi was cool enough to let me mess about with his art and assemble the covers for the CDs - thank you Lemi, it was a real thrill to work with you, you are a genius and you carry Fela's vision in your heart and hand. I am only sorry we couldn't fit more bands on here, but as it is, there are so many hours of afrobeat to enjoy on here, you will dance till you drop, and then you will start to think, as you lie there panting! This one is the next step after Afrobeat Revival - it takes you beyond into new territory, where the confines of what Tony Allen and Fela Kuti and their crew from the Kalakuta Republic initially set up, are burst wide open and take you beyond.

The bonus compact disc by Kaleta & his band, Zozo Afrobeat, is called "Country of Guns", previously only available on vinyl LP as an import from Germany, and it is incredible - Kaleta is a VERY MULTI-TALENTED soul, and it has been great getting to know him and his fascinating history. He played with everyone from King Sunny Ade to Fela! Check him out on the web or better yet, catch him live. Andujar & I wrote the notes and you get the full story so pick this up and read about Kaleta's amazing journey from Benin to Lagos to New York, plus the stories of all the other bands too. Brothers and sisters, let us be your guide to the funkiest music from the Motherland and the Great Diaspora. Like Fela said, music is the weapon, a weapon for peace, love, and overstanding!
- DJ Bongohead

We welcome a new CD compilation, "Afrobeat Revolution", which will hit the streets worldwide on Tuesday, October 13th. London-based world music specialists Rough Guides (a subsidiary of World Music Network) will release it. This is the follow-up to "Afrobeat Revival", released earlier this year. Compiled by DJs Bongohead and Andujar, both located in Western Massachusetts, USA, these CDs survey the contemporary Afrobeat scene, including several of the Revival groups and Afrika 70 offshoots, as well as the artists pushing the attitude in new directions. All of this under the stylistic and spiritual influence of the Afrobeat creators, the late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti and Master Drummer Tony Allen (who is featured on four tracks on these discs).

"Afrobeat Revival", released in the Spring on the Rough Guides imprint, documented the new wave of international Afrobeat, including former Fela associates Tony Allen, Dele Sosimi and Akoya's Kaleta, along with Fela's youngest son, Seun Kuti. In tribute to Fela, several other groups sprouted around the world. The likes of Antibalas, Chicago Afrobeat Project, Femm Nameless, Boston's Superpowers and Mr Something Something (featuring Ikwunga) each contribute a song. Another of these contemporary groups, Kokolo, contribute an entire bonus album! This double CD set has received positive reviews in several publications, such as Wire and Songlines.


"Without Tony Allen there would be no Afrobeat"-that was Fela Kuti's own view of the dance groove he gave to the world. Allen's superbly subtle funk provided the music's vital heartbeat, and a track by the great drummer opens this exploration of Fela's legacy. There are other Lagos connections via Fela's youngest son Seun Kuti, and London based Dele Sosimi, formerly of Fela's Egypt 80. But Afrobeat is in the ascendent in North America, and groups from Boston, Toronto, Chicago, and New York bring their own urban accents to this hypnotic, yet confrontational style. New slants rather than radical departures, but some, such as the Latino inflections of Brooklyn's horn-driven Antibalas, are really persuasive. And Afrobeat's political edgeis kept razor sharp by the clumsily named yet impressive Canadian sextet Mr Something Something And Ikwunga The Afrobeat Poet.

The above review by Julian Cowley, appeared in Wire

"Afrobeat Revolution" reports on the new Afrobeat soldiers and the multitude of directions the sound has developed. This one has artists from all over: Canada's Souljazz Orchestra and Afrodizz, North Carolina's Afromotive, Albino! from the west coast, as well as Fanga, Ruth Tafebe, house music producer Dennis Ferrer, Nigerian percussion master Lekan Babalola (remixed here by Mark de Clive-Lowe), free jazzer Ted Sirota and Afrobeat co-creator Tony Allen. Kaleta & Zozo Afrobeat offer us a bonus album, their crucial "Country of Guns".

Both of these discs are compiled by the Andujar & Bongohead team, with collaborative notes. The cover art on both CDs feature the work of Ghariokwu Lemi (former Fela cover artist). These CDs are available worldwide through such outlets as Amazon, Dusty Groove, Target, Barnes & Noble, Newbury Comics, and more. Ask your local outlet to enlighten the masses by carrying these compilations. You may also order these and other Rough Guides titles through World Music Network.

The groups on these albums deliver the Afrobeat rebel sound and message to us through this music of now. Consider the gifts and accept the knowledge.

Thanks. - DJ Andujar

Here are some images to get our juices flowing - some of the musicians in the two compilations, and some cover art by Lemi. Enjoy!

Fela Kuti

Tony Allen

Seun Kuti

Kaleta

Lekan Babalola

Antibalas (shout outs to Martin, Bosco, Sugarman, & Chico Mann!)

Ted Sirota

Ray Lugo & Kokolo

Ray and Kokolo

Kokolo again (can't help it, Ray's an old friend!)

Chicago Afrobeat Project's drummer, Marshall Greenhouse

Ikwunga, The Afrobeat Poet

Mr. Something Something

Chicago Afrobeat Project

Dennis Ferrer

Toli Femm Nameless

Souljazz Orchestra

Superpowers

Afrodizz

Albino!

Fanga

Ruth Tafebe

Akoya

Dele Sosimi

"Kakadu" - an inspirational bit of Lemi art that got me wanting to work with him - thanks for sending me this man. Sorry it's so small and thin.

Lemi working on a painting (see my earlier entry on him).

Felaosophy, the source painting by Lemi I used for the Afrobeat Revoultion CD cover.

Lemi's depiction of a typical day in Lagos, Nigeria.

This is one of Lemi's portraits of a Fela fan! Yow!

The final cover art I put together for Afrobeat Revolution!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ocote Soul Sounds - FREE CONCERT



Ocote Soul Sounds - FREE CONCERT at the Music and Dance Building, Hampshire College, Monday, October 26th, 2009.

Please pass this e-flier along to friends, neighbors, and acquaintances - it is going to be a great FREE concert, with wild video projections by Bell & Howl, and DJs Bongohead & Andujar spinning dance mania sounds from the Diaspora and the motherland - Afro-Latin-Psych-Soul - from their famed "Rumba Psycodelica" night at the Elevens club in Northampton. Doors open at 7:30. All ages, open to the public - I am pretty sure kids can come, but certainly, if you know any 5 College Students, tell them to come, PLEASE! Anybody interested in new Latino music, this is the opportunity you've been waiting for. The Music & Dance Building at Hampshire is easy to get to (enter at Eric Carle Museum) and parking is near by. See campus map - building # 8. You can grab the map and the flier right from this page and send it on to your buddies.

Ocote Soul Sounds is half Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, half Grupo Fantasma - so as you can imagine, it's a unique and freaky concoction encompassing funk, Latin, dub, jam band, electronics, afrobeat, psych, rock - all rolled into one unique alternative Latin party that's good for the head and sweet for the feet, coming to you all the way from from Austin, Texas.








Friday, October 2, 2009

Fist Bumpin' with Timmy Young


I always did the fist bump with Timmy when I saw him in the street or at a show, so I decided to make a T-shirt with this iconic image in his memory. To the good folks at Paradise Copies in Northampton, thank you for the special fist bumpin' discount! We all remember him fondly. And thanks to the Elevens for honoring him tonight. The photos below are from their web page. R.I.P. Timothy Young!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Timmy Young Dies


Timothy Young, a kind man who lived for music, died on September 26, he was the the semi-deaf man who would go to every concert around here in Northampton. Ironic, because though deaf he loved live music shows with a passion. He was always supporting me, giving me the hi-5, shouting “BONGOHEAD” across the street, telling others about my DJ gigs or concerts, going to almost every Latin Night and concert I was involved with, every live show big or small, from rock to jazz, noise to salsa, even obscure stuff. He was a fixture here, always going somewhere around downtown, on a mission, working for the Iron Horse Entertainment Group, etc. He lived alone, kept to himself except if he saw you, it was always a warm "Bongohead!!" and a rundown of all the upcoming events and concerts, I know you know him if you are from the area and went to shows. He was a regular at all the venues since at least the mid-80s. I just spoke to my friend Officer Chico Jimenez, who I DJ Latin Nights with sometimes, and he said Timmy died alone in his condo, Al from the Horse had gone to check on him – last time we saw him was at the Calvin the night of Los Lobos and he was looking kind of sick...nobody in the apartment building had seen him for a few days. Chico told Al that if he was worried about Timmy, to go and check up on him. Al came back to the station and said he had found Timmy in his bed. The cops then went and verified that he was dead. Coroner’s report is not available but we suspect it was flu or some infection, maybe heart attack – who knows – his only relatives don’t live in town and he always was a loner. I talked with Jim Neil & he said Timmy graduated from Clark and that Timmy's sister and brother are in town. Not sure if there’s a funeral or memorial, but Bill Dwight tells me there is an obituary planned for the Gazette – Timmy's dad, who according to Bill was a Smith Prof, is long gone (Timmy would have been 60 this New Years) and his mom is deceased too. Anyway, I was wandering around downtown this morning, kind of lost, wondering how this had happened, unable to comprehend the really sad news, and sure enough I bumped into several people in the street who gave me what info they knew – it really stinks, and add to that what happened to Lori and her son and their downstairs neighbor, with the house burning down, all in all it’s a pretty bad Thursday...there is a tribute concert and benefit at the Elevens this Friday, see you all there.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Working With Quantic



I have had the pleasure of knowing William "Quantic" Holland for a few years now and it has been an honor to work on two of his albums as graphic designer. He is so talented and prolific, you would think he would be a manic, frantic person, but in reality, the dude is mellow and patient, and great a juggling a million people and projects at once, internationally - a great guy to work with and someone who is always questing, always experimenting. I wanted to share some pictures with you of Quantic's latest tour, as well as some images from the last two albums in their developmental stages. If you have not heard "Tradition In Transition" and its predecessor "Tropidelico" - both on the Tru Thoughts label out of the UK - well, I highly recommend you get a hold of them right now! Sheer pleasure and genius rolled into one effortless mix of styles and genres - a safari for your soul (not to mention your booty). I have to say, the music is incredible, and you might want to get the vinyl LP version because (a) you get the CD tucked into the sleeve, and (b) you get to see the wonderful collage illustrations in a big satisfying format - they are works of art really - by Symon Warwick - and the intense photographs of B+ as well (Will also takes beautifully tattered snap shots as well). My role for the "Tropidelico" project was to come up with the overall album design as well as the lettering. On "Trad In Trans", my part was smaller (I didn't have much time and working long distance had its drawbacks) - though I put a lot of work into it initially on the overall design - but in the end, I felt my role was very satisfying and successful; I ended up coming up with the band's new "logo" (see the T-shirt and other places it has cropped up) and the title lettering for the cover. We went through a lot of brain-storming sessions, back and forth, up and down, emails and such like. It was decided that I would concentrate on the lettering, much to everybody's relief, I think. Down in Cali, Colombia, they came up with the overall layout design, which ended up being similar to my original graphic concept (i.e. black with white knockout sans serif font), so it all came full circle in the end which was nice - with the photos, music, and liner notes, as you see, it hangs together quite well, in what I think is Will's best project yet. So, when I heard from a friend that Quantic was actually going to be performing near me with his original South American studio band from the album, I jumped up and down, called my DJ partner in crime Andujar (b. rule), and we planned an impromptu trip down to NYC to help celebrate the Turntables On The Hudson Anniversary party!! It was a last minute affair, and I have to say, against the odds, we pulled it off with flying colors. Going to Governor's Island in New York to hear the band live, to dance the night away, and meet the fabulous players, singers and DJs, was an unforgettable experience. Once we were let back stage, we mingled with the crew and got a taste of what was to come later that night. Talking shop with the funkiest drummer alive, Mr. Malcolm Catto, was a real thrill (he was of course freshly back from record hunting on that other island, Manhattan), as was getting to meet my idol, the Peruvian pianist extra-ordinaire, Alfredito Linares. The other members of Quantic's Combo Bárbaro were equally open and willing to hang out - I especially enjoyed chilling with talented, warm, and kind bassist Fernando Silva, the spiritually deep and fun-loving percussionist Freddie Colorado, and the beautiful and sparkly singer Nidia Góngora, plus, Mr. B+ was in the house, which was great to link up with him after collaborating 3rd hand. Also talked about Latin album covers with Beto and Nappy G, which was fun. Once the DJs started cranking, there was no turning back, and then the band got busy, and it was a magical musical mystical tour through Panama City, San Juan, Lagos, Cali, Havana, and Detroit! The audience was feelin' it, I was transported, DJ Andujar had a huge Cheshire Cat grin on his mug, and we all got sweaty and were deep into the music as one for the night. This one drunken glady was really twirling and twirling, I was afraid she was going to fall over. There were a lot of Colombianos in the crowd, so you know they were getting off. When it was all over we were exhausted and happy. On the way back from Governor's Island, on the ferry at midnight, we had an impromptu cumbia jam session, singing funny raggedy-ass songs about drinking till dawn, and the regular passengers really got into the infectious mood. As usual, DJ Nickodemus, whose event this was, held everything together in his gracious, warm way - many talented DJs (Frankie Francis, Beto from the Soundway compilations, Paolo, Busqueto) spun great records, Nappy G of TTOTH and Groove Collective was on percussion, there was a tropical downpour, and Ellis Island (as seen through the neon palm tree of the artificial "beach" in front of the stage)appeared like this exotic island mirage in the after shower sunset, beckoning in the Tropidelico haze. A night of pure magic to remember! Below are some photos we took with Fernando Silva's camera, and a few he sent from later points on their tour.
A very big & warm "Muchas Gracias" to Will, Nicko, Fernando, Freddy, Alfredito, Malcolm, B+, DJ "Frankie Francis" Merritt, the True Thoughts crew, Nappy G, Mariano, the City of New York and Parks & Recreation, all the fans and Hell, just everybody at the event. You all made it special, not to be forgotten.


Nickodemus, DJ?, Andujar, Fernando, Quantic, and Bongohead


Bongohead, Andujar, Fernando


The Combo, friends, crew backstage


The Extended members of Quantic and his Combo Bárbaro, Paris, France


My sketches for Quantic and his Combo Bárbaro logo


The booklet "spread' with Cali, Colombia (©B+), and Will's notes


One of B+'s great photos used in the layout


Symon Warwick's excellent cover art, without the lettering that I added later



One of the great Colombian t-shirts using my logo


An illustration I found with someone using my logo - looks nice!


The Tropidelico cover in all its glory!


My logo for the Tropidelico album, based on some lettering from the Peruvian label MAG


I really loved making this panel for the CD - I call it the musicians' panel - but it got shrunk down really small for the CD booklet







These are some inspirations for my lettering designs from T in T and Tropidelico


An early version of the Tropidelico cover


A color photo from the Tropidelico sessions - Alfredito Linares


This is back of the Tropidelico LP - so great to work on a larger canvas!


An idea for the CD tray inner insert with funky drummer Malcolm Catto