If I were living in London

I would be trying to beg, steal or borrow tickets for the Ethiopiques concert at the Barbican Hall, London, on Friday June 27. Here is an extract from an article in the weekend FT: Raider of the lost archives:

The golden age of Ethiopian music ran from 1969 to 1978. In the last years of Haile Selassie’s reign, censorship relaxed sufficiently for an outpouring of musical creativity. Musicians thronged the nightclubs of Addis Ababa and about 500 singles and 30 albums were recorded in that period. …

Ethiopian musicians, who had remained aloof from musical developments in the rest of Africa, mixed these influences from American R&B with their own music into something distinctive and strange. At the time, it was denounced. “When you read the press of the time”, says Falceto, “there are polemics against abandoning the culture and so on.” …

Many of the musicians whose 1970s heydays are captured on the Ethiopiques series are still working, mostly playing for the vast Ethiopian diaspora, more than 1m-strong in the US alone. Ahmed and the influential arranger and keyboard player Mulatu Astatké both live there, working largely with American bands. At the Barbican, they will be joined by Alèmayèhu Eshèté, who channels the spirit of James Brown, and by the saxophonist Gétachèw Mèkurya. Instrumental support will come from the Either/Orchestra, a Boston-based group.

(Hat tip to my Mum for spotting the article and sending me the link.)

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