Ethiopian-Groove: Boston’s Debo Band Playing in NYC

Tadias Events News
Updated: Friday, April 10, 2009

Debo Band, Boston’s 8-piece Ethio-groove collective, is playing in NYC
tonight at L’Orange Bleue (doors open at 10pm).

Jamaica Plain, MA: Debo Band has been cultivating a small but enthusiastic following in the loft spaces, neighborhood bars, and church basements of Boston for the past three years. But very soon, they will be playing for a much larger audience. In May, Debo will travel to Ethiopia to perform at the Ethiopian Music Festival in the capital, Addis Ababa. Their engagement is supported by Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation through USArtists International with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Now the band is getting ready with a busy schedule of hometown shows and will perform for the first time in front of audiences in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.

Ethiopian-American jazz saxophonist Danny Mekonnen, a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at Harvard University, founded Debo in 2006 as a way of exploring the unique sounds that filled the dance clubs of “Swinging Addis” in the 1960s and 70s. Danny was mesmerized by the unlikely confluence of contemporary American soul and funk music, traditional East African polyrhythms and pentatonic scales, and the instrumentation of Eastern European brass bands. Ethiopian audiences instantly recognize this sound as the soundtrack of their youth, carried from party to kitchen on the ubiquitous cassette tapes of the time. And increasingly, erudite American and European audiences are also getting hip to the Ethiopian groove, largely through CD reissues of Ethiopian classics on the Ethiopiques series – not so coincidentally, some of the same people who are behind the Ethiopian Music Festival in Addis.

Debo Band draws audiences from both mainstream America and Ethiopian American communities. They have opened for legendary Ethiopian greats such as Tilahun Gessesse and Getatchew Mekuria, who has lately been collaborating with Dutch punk veterans The Ex. Debo’s unique instrumentation, including horns, strings, and accordion, is a nod to the big bands of Haile Selassie’s Imperial Bodyguard Band and Police Orchestra. Their lead vocalist, Bruck Tesfaye, has the kind of pipes that reverberate with the sound of beloved Ethiopian vocalists like Mahmoud Ahmed and Alemayehu Eshete. Although Debo Band is steeped in the classic big band sound of the 1960s and 70s, they also perform original compositions and new arrangements along with more contemporary sounds such as Roha Band and Teddy Afro.


Photo by Bruck Tesfaye

If you go:
L’Orange Bleue, NYC
10pm
430 Broome St.
NY, NY 10013
http://www.lorangebleue.com/
$10

Saturday April 11, 7:30 pm – Crossroads Music Series, Philadelphia
with Belasco/Jamal Trio (Philadelphia)
Calvary United Methodist Church
48th Street and Baltimore Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19143
http://www.crossroadsconcerts.org/
$8-12

Sunday April 12, 10pm – Babylon FC, Falls Church, VA
with East Origin Band (Washington, DC)
3501 South Jefferson St.
Falls Church, VA 22041
http://www.babylonfc.com/babylounge/
$10

Press Contact:
Danny Mekonnen
(903) 491-4118, cell
danny.mekonnen@gmail.com
http://www.myspace.com/deboband

6 Responses to “Ethiopian-Groove: Boston’s Debo Band Playing in NYC”


  1. 1 Mule Apr 10th, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Can’t wait. I will be there!

  2. 2 Hedery Apr 12th, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    it was wonderful!! truly great interpretations of Ethiopian music. This is the Hebesha sound I have been dreaming about for long!!

  3. 3 Ethiopian Apr 16th, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    I’ve been living in Boston for a long time but have not heard of Debo band. Why is it not well advertised in Boston? At least some of the Ethiopian crowed (like me) is not aware of this.

  4. 4 anteneh yigzaw(journalist,ethiopian press agency) Apr 22nd, 2009 at 4:18 am

    This is the first time for me to here about Debo band. I really feel proud of it. I need to know more about Debo and write some article on the band.

  5. 5 Debo Apr 24th, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Debo band will be playing in Cambridge, MA on Friday May 1st, 9pm, at “The Western Front” (Intresection of Putnum st. and Wetsren Ave)! Last show before we leave for Addis. Hope to see some of you guys out there!

  6. 6 Alka Jun 5th, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    Hello! Thanks for the wonderful music you brought to Addis in Dar tonight.

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