(photo left: Konstantin's Flickr page)
When WFMU was first presented with the ability to put on some free NYC concerts via the New York State Music Fund grant, the obvious first notion was "who would we like to see in NYC that has never played before?" So we wound up the ball and sent the pitch over to Lincoln Center's Bill Bragin: how about Holland's greatest punk exports the Ex coming over (which they have in the past on many occasions), but this time bringing over some of their great international musician friends? The ones only Europe usually gets to see (or Ethiopia, if you happen to be there when the Ex make their fabled stops). We passed contacts to Lincoln Center, Terrie Ex got in touch with his fellow travelers, and then the ball was knocked outta the park in a severe way. The result? Lincoln Center's Out of Doors series in collaboration with WFMU's grant giving you all the chance to see the US debut of a major international collaboration for free at Lincoln Center/Damrosch Park Bandshell on West 62nd Street at Amsterdam in Manhattan, Wednesday, August 20th from 6-10 PM. Yes, free. No advance ticketing. On the bill:
The Ex with Gétatchèw Mèkurya (renowned Ethiopian saxophone legend), and if that weren't enough, Lincoln Center added two amazing East African/American collaborations to the bill: Either/Orchestra with Mahmoud Ahmed and Alèmayèhu Eshèté, plus Extra Golden.
If you're a fan of these artists, or Ethiopian/African sounds in general, you know this show is the event you've been waiting for. We've already spoken at length on the joys of WFMU aligning with the Ex in the past; they are among the most freeform and inspiring musicians and people we've had the fortune to experience live and on record. To hear them in full steamroller twin-guitar attack joined by the 73-year old Lion of Ethiopian saxophone is going to be a musical experience we're all gonna remember. More below on the entire fantastic bill (and don't forget the July 4th free Sonic Youth/Feelies show at Battery Park WFMU is lending support to Downtown Alliance/River to River for!):
6PM: Extra Golden
Kenyan and American cooperative Extra Golden integrates Kenyan benga music and American rock in a union that represents the vanguard of both styles and transcends the very notion of authenticity. While the defining element of Extra Golden may be the cross-cultural cooperation of its members, drawn from Kenya's Bilongo Golden Stars and Orchestra Extra Solar Africa and Washington DC's Golden, styles like rock and benga are not quite as disparate as some may believe. Both arose from people cranking up electric guitars and singing melodic songs over propulsive rhythms with exuberance that is designed to make an audience move.
Extra Golden's live session on WFMU's Transpacific Sound Paradise January 13,2007 (Real Audio)
NPR's spotlight on Extra Golden
7PM: Mahmoud Ahmed and Alèmayèhu Eshèté with the Either/Orchestra
One of the most beloved singers of Ethiopia's "golden era" of the late 60s and early 70s, Mahmoud Ahmed's brassy, electric urban pop is swinging and hypnotic, heart-rending and funky. A true Ethiopian legend, Alèmayèhu Eshèté is often described as the "Ethiopian James Brown," or "Abyssinian Elvis," thanks to his wild and electrifying stage performances. The ten-piece Either/Orchestra, founded in 1985 by saxophonist/composer Russ Gershon, has earned a reputation for its fearless repertoire, top-shelf ensemble play, highly talented soloists and boundless desire to connect with audiences. In 2004 the E/O became the first US big band to perform in Ethiopia since Duke Ellington's in 1973. Their Ethiopiques: Live in Addis concert and CD began a series of collaborations with the top names in Ethiopian music, reviving and updating the classic Ethiopian groove of the 60's and 70's, most recently featured on a new DVD of a collaboration with Mahmoud Ahmed. Buda Musique's Ethiopiques CD series has been crucial in presenting these sounds again.
8:30PM The Ex with Gétatchèw Mèkurya
Gétatchèw Mèkurya, the King of Ethiopian saxophone, is a real giant, both physically and musically. Seventy three years old, but still in full voice, with his own powerfully distinctive style of playing, he is the inventor of a musical style called the Shellele, which originates from a heroic war chant, translated to the saxophone.
The Ex, Holland's legendary avant-improv-world-punkband, has been crossing borders for more than 28 years. Discordant, highly rhythmic guitars and the rolling, almost African drumming style give The Ex's music its special character. After touring Ethiopia twice, in 2004 The Ex celebrated their 25th musical anniversary and invited Gétatchèw to join them in the Netherlands. The resultant pairing, featured on their new DVD, is both thrilling and unique: Gétatchèw`s melodies and solos mesh with The Ex's rhythm, noise and vocals, supported by a guest horn section, like they were made for each other.
Ex guitarist Andy Moor's Hugh Tracey/African music special for WFMU, broadcast 11/15/05 (Real Audio)
The Ex's 9/11/04 Knitting Factory NYC show, fully broadcast on WFMU here (Real Audio)
Gétatchèw Mèkurya "Shellela" (Real Audio)
The Ex with Getatchew "Ethiopia Hagere" from their Terp release Moa Anbessa (Real Audio)
Listen to the Ex's live session on Brian Turner's show, broadcast 1/9/07 (Real Audio). Video of "Waiting" live at WFMU below.