Channeling Fela


When I heard that Franck Biyong would be in town playing a tribute concert to the “Black President”, Fela Kuti himself I was quite over the moon. Once more the music gods have chosen to bless Nairobi. Orchestre Lipombe Jazz under the leadership of Cameroonian Franck Biyong,  will be taking us down memory lane,  bringing our beloved Fela Kuti back to life, if only for a night.
Franck Biyong is the originator of the Afrolectric sound that is greatly inspired by Fela Kuti’s own Afrobeat.  He is a singer, composer, band leader, record producer and not to mention an amazing electric and bass guitar player.  He isn’t new to Nairobi as he has performed here a couple of times and was also the first music director of Coke Studio Africa.
The first Fela Kuti cover I heard by Franck Biyong is of ITT (International Thief Thief) and to be sure, he does Fela’s timeless classic justice.  ITT talks about corruption in Africa by its leaders in cahoots with foreigners, most often times their former colonial masters. ITT is a live recording done in vintage Paris club. It manages to capture all the vibrancy, passion, fiery energy and excitement that was present during this tribute to the Africa man original. You can listen to it on bandcamp.



Spoilt for Choice

Whichever way you look at it, today promises to be an amazing evening.  There are two great concerts lined up , you can either join Ciano Maimba doing his first gig as a main artist at the Goethe- Institut. Or Blinky Bill and the Key Cutters who will be having a gig at the Alchemist. The choice is up to you and well  you can always go for both of them ! Enjoy !

Drum Fever !


From the West African Djembe to the more popular drum kits, drums have that uncanny ability to get us dancing or at the very least bobbing our heads to the beat.  So when a little bird forwarded me this flyer I knew I had to put it up.  Goethe institut brings us Mipigo ; a platform where we get to experience solo and duet drum performances from pretty cool percussionists. There is an amazing line up that features two Coke Studio Africa drummers Chalo-T and Joji Porgy. Also Blinky Bill from Just a Band will be doing his thing using electronic percussion.


Something new?

There are a whole lot of stereotypes about classical music,  some being that it’s  boring or stuffy or for old people and so many others.  However, over the years the number of Kenyans involved in playing and appreciating this art form has grown.  If you have never been to any classical music concert I dare you to give it a try.  You will get to see that Beethoven is anything but boring and also get to debunk so many myths about the genre.  Join Nairobi orchestra this weekend at a concert led by David Ralak, a great violinist and an inspiration to many. And also get watch Donald Schleicher work his magic with the baton .


On Timbuktu , Fatoumata Diawara and Safaricom Jazz


Timbuktu, the ancient Malian city, full of mystery, culture, legends and so much more. It was the site of one of the earliest universities in Africa which was tragically destroyed , erasing enormous  chunks of Africa’s precolonial intellectual thought.  It’s also a city who’s fate was closely tied to that of the great Mansa Musa who essentially established it’s reputation as the “city of gold”.timbuktu-desert-vegetation

It was interesting  that I got to hear Fatoumata’s soulful , sultry , golden voice on the soundtrack of the movie Timbuktu  known as Timbuktu Fasso.  I was completely enraptured by her voice as she sung an ode to this ancient city.  And for the longest time I was haunted by the vocalist behind it as the soundtrack was attributed to Amine Bouhafa. I did not look into it further. But as it turns out they worked on it together,  with Bouhafa being the genius behind the instrumentation and composition. The instrumentation being a unique blend of African traditional instruments and Western instruments .fatoumata-diawara-04


However, just like the ever mysterious city , she resurfaced through the Safaricom Jazz Festival.  After seeing the poster I kept wondering who this Fatoumata Diawara was. Her name sounded like poetry,  like it belonged to some siren of the sea or something. So I decided to look her up and as soon as I heard the first song. I knew I had found the enchanting voice behind Timbuktu Fasso. You can check it out right here and I’ve also included a peformance of her and Roberto Fonseca .

Concert Alert : Motown in Nairobi

With the kind of performers lined up, this gig promises to be epic ! Catch up with Edward Parseen, Different faces band, Chris Bittok, June Gachui,  Denise Gordon,  Neema Ntalel and many other great artists at the Motown in Nairobi concert.