With five horns, and a six-piece rhythm section, Brooklyn’s Zongo Junction will set the scene for a Grass Valley dance party Friday during an electrifying concert presented by the Center for the Arts.
Zongo Junction has created a buzz in New York City’s exploding afrobeat scene. The band formed in 2009 when drummer and California native, Charles Ferguson, returned from a six-month stay in Ghana, West Africa.
“Growing up in the Bay Area, I was exposed to a lot of amazing music from many different cultures, a lot of which had roots in West Africa. As a kid, a few different music teachers introduced me to afrobeat, and the pioneers of the genre—Fela Kuti, Tony Allen, OJ Ekemode, Sunny Ade and others. My love of African music brought me to Ghana in 2008 and when I returned to New York, I knew I wanted to start this band,” said Ferguson.
A collection of college friends formed the band and it didn’t take long for Zongo Junction to develop a following in East Coast clubs.
The band’s first album, “Thieves!” (2010), included a collaboration with longtime Fela Kuti band member, Leon Kaleta Ligan-Majek. Quickly they began performing at venues and festivals around the country including a residency at Brooklyn Bowl, a main stage performance at the Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival in Florida, and an appearance at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
BOCA DO RIO
Joining Zongo Junction on stage will be Boca do Rio. It is live music inspired by thousands of musicians and music lovers who have laid the rhythmic foundations of samba, baião, samba-reggae and the dances for the orishas.
The San Francisco band Boca do Rio takes its name from the Portuguese “mouth of the river” – the place where streams converge into one powerful, flowing, physical energy.
Kevin Welch, Boca’s leader, composer, guitarist, and vocalist lived in the Amazon and become fluent in Portuguese and transformed by samba music. In the mid-1990s he started the group, Vivendo de Pão, which became a mainstay on San Francisco’s club and festival scene and opened for touring acts like Macy Gray and Los Van Van.
For Boca do Rio, Welch has assembled a superb team of Brazilian and American musicians to give voice to his vibrant compositions, which he terms música organica – music that is explicitly influenced by his connection to Brazil but filtered through the sensibilities of his California base, which he shares with his versatile accompanists and musical partners Alex Calatayud, John Evans, Scott Johnson, Kevin Welch and Larry De La Cruz.
Tickets to the 8 p.m. Friday show are $18 for members of the Center, $22 for the general public and are available at the Center’s Box Office in person, by phone at 530-274-8384 ext. 14, online at www.thecenterforthearts.org or at BriarPatch Co-op.
For more info, go to www.thecenterforthearts.org.