Tuesday, January 16, 2007

MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT REVIEW: NAMM - The Largest Music Products Trade Show in the World


The Winter Session NAMM show, January 18 – 21, 2007, is the largest music products trade show in the world. Held every year in January at the Anaheim Convention Center in California, the show brings everyone in the music products industry together for a big blow-out trade show featuring new products, live performances, drum circles, impromptu performances at the many booths, industry meetings, round table discussions, and professional development courses called NAMM University classes.

NAMM has a smaller show they call their Summer Session which is a full one third the size of the Winter Show, and it focuses more only on industry meetings and professional development courses. NAMM is not open to the general public; it is open for people in the music trade only, so if you’re interested in going speak to your local music merchandisers to ask for a day pass.

NAMM originally abbreviated the name of the organization, the National Association of Music Merchants, but has evolved from a national entity focused on music products, to a huge international bacchanal of all things music, from new products, to new performers, including commercial and retail affiliates.

NAMM takes over the entire huge Anaheim Convention Center and if you haven’t already booked your hotel room you will find getting a room a problem at this point. Performances take place all day long at various locations throughout the Convention Center, nearby hotels, and at the hundreds of booths where performers appear at the companies they rep product for. Here’s a sampling of just a few performances that will take place at NAMM...

Thursday 18 January

  • 5:30pm – 6pm - Anaheim Convention Center Lobby - Rhodes Tribute: Jeff Lorber, George Duke, Patrice Rushen perform jazz, R&B, funk, fusion, and pop music in a special NAMM tribute in honor of the late Harold Rhodes.
  • 6pm – 12m - JT Schmidt’s Restaurant & brewery, 2610 East Katella, Anaheim - The 2007 Bass Bash: High energy, world class bass performance featuring Alex Al, Jake Kot Ensemble, David Dyson & Friends, Todd Johnson, and more.
Friday 19 January
  • 9am – 10am – Anaheim Convention Center Lobby – The Wicked Tinkers.
  • 11am – Peavey Electronics Booth #5740 – Jerry Donahue clinic.
  • 11am – 4pm – Back of Hall E, Booth #1897 – NAMM World’s Fastest Drummer Competition - takes place everyday throughout the Convention.
  • 12n – 1pm - Anaheim Convention Center Outdoor Stage, Between Halls B&C – US Army Band.
  • 1pm – 4pm– Seymour Duncan Booth #4358 – artists scheduled to appear include Slash, Warren DiMartini, George Lynch, Dave Mustaine, Scott Ian.
  • 2pm – Peavey Electronics – Joe Satriani will sign autographs.
  • 5pm – 6pm - Anaheim Convention Center Lobby – NAMM Jam ’07 – a big Jam with musicians who have played in such world-class bands as Yes, The Ventures, Spencer Davis Group, Mungo Jerry, Alabama, The Doobie Bros, Steely Dan, Steppenwolf, Toto, Alice Cooper, Billy Idol, Kiss.
  • 5:45pm – 7pm – Hilton Hotel, Outdoor Plaza - All-Industry Drum Circle sponsored by Remo drums and facilitated by Remo Signature Artist and the Father of the Modern Drum Circle Movement, Arthur Hull. This is a FREE event open to the public; you don’t need a NAMM pass to attend. If you live nearby you should definitely drop by. Drums and percussion provided free courtesy of Drum Circle sponsor Remo.

Saturday 20 January

  • 11am Glen Dover from Megadeath will appear at Kahler International Booth #5727.
  • 12n Kerry King from Slayer will appear at Kahler International Booth #5727.
  • 1pm Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains will appear at Kahler International Booth #5727.
  • 1pm – 3pm - Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue will appear at the Basson Sound Booth #5000.
  • 3pm – 5pm – Artist signings (including Louie Bellson, Luis Conte, Gregg Bissonette, Kenny Aronoff, Mick Fleetwood, Max Weinberg, Aaron Spears, Alex Acuna) will take place at the Avedis Zildjian Company Booth # 2940.
  • 7:30pm – 10pm – Hilton Anaheim, California Ballroom D - Muriel Anderson’s All Star Guitar Night – with a Silent Auction that benefits the Music For Life Alliance – Get FREE tix at the sponsors booths: GHS Strings, Sony Pro Audio, Sony Media, Audio Technica, Auralex, TrueFire, Reverend Guitars.

fileId:3096224744005582;size:inter;If you’re into Santana check out the LP Booth as their percussionists use the booth as their home field while at NAMM. You could easily find yourself deep in conversation with greats like Giovanni Hidalgo, who is also an LP artist. Check on the nearby Remo booth for other drummers like Arthur Hull, Paulo Mattioli, Adrian Young, Carter Beauford, Rick Allen, Alessandra Belloni, John Bergamo, Jason Bonham, and Stewart Copeland.

This is just a small sampling of the NAMM haps, if you’re lucky enough to snag a pass (ask your local music store or music merchandiser if they can loan you one for a day) be sure to check the program for a list of updated appearances. There are tons of cool products you can purchase to take home, and much swag along the lines of stickers, magnet-thingys, Tshirts, and other stuff you can win at the many booths. If you’re into music and live in SoCali you should definitely not miss NAMM.

(Registration is in Hall E and the NAMM Idea Center open at 9:30 a.m. each day of the show)

Anaheim Convention Center
800 West Katella Avenue
Anaheim, CA 92802


Thursday, January 18 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Friday, January 19 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Saturday, January 20 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sunday, January 21 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Jan. 17 - 20, 2008
Jan. 15 - 18, 2009
Jan. 14 - 17, 2010


© 2006 by The African Beat


Why The African Beat has not been around recently....

We've recently had a death in the family and spent the year prior dealing with and taking care of family issues. We promise to post here more frequently. Thanks to those of you have have stuck around to read us.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hamza el Din Photographs - The Tar

The Tar Frame Drum

The Tar is one of many incarnations of the Frame Drum, which is perhaps the earliest type of drum and is found in many civilizations around the world. A Frame Drum is typified by the circular frame of the drum in which circumference of the head, usually made of animal skin, is bigger than the body of the frame. Frame drums can also be found in square shapes throughout many countries in the world.

Hamza el Din Photographs - The Oud

The Oud

The oud, known throughout the Eastern world both from documentation and handed down through oral tradition, is regarded as the king, sultan, or emir of musical instruments and is considered by many to be the principal instrument of the Arabs. The oud's name derives from the word al-oud, which means a branch of wood. The oud has five pairs of strings with each pair tuned to the same pitch, and with a single string, also the thickest and known as the bamteli.

PASSINGS: Hamza el Din 1929 - 2006

Long considered the Father of Nubian Music, oud and tar master Hamza el Din passed away on May 23, 2006 in Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, California, of complications due to a serious disease that is currently being reported as either a gall bladder infection or brain surgery. When Shona marimba master Dumisani Maraire (Dumi) died suddenly in 1999, Hamza , who worked with him in the late 70's in the same prestigious Music Department at the University of Washington memorialized him with these words...

" You may feel sad, but this is actually an occasion of joy, as his soul is released from this world."

The same can be said for El Din himself. Born in 1929 in the Nubian town of Toshka, near Wadi Haifa in Northern Sudan, now located in Egypt, El Din was originally an electrical engineering student at what is now the University of Cairo in Egypt. While in school he learned to play the oud, a fretless direct ancestor of the European lute, and the tar hand drum . He then changed direction and enrolled in the King Fouad Institute for Middle Eastern Music, where be studied his traditional instruments and began composing his own original music. Later, with an Italian government grant, he studied Western music and classical guitar at the Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome. Later still, he emigrated to the U.S. where he lived and worked as a recording and concert artist, and taught as a ethonomusicologist in many schools, including the University of Ohio in Athens, the University of Washington in Seattle, and the University of Texas in Austin. Aided by a grant from the Japan Foundation, he went to Tokyo to make a comparative study between the Arabian oud and the Japanese biwa during the 1980's where he met up and collaborated with the Kodo Drummers.

El Din became known around the world as a composer and master of the Nubian instruments, and became visible to American audiences when he performed at the Newport Folk Festival in 1964. He played an important role in modernizing and popularizing Nubian music, using his work to evoke stories of his ancient pre-Islamic Nubian culture. On a fellowship in the U.S. to study Western classical music he was introduced to Joan Baez and Bob Dylan. This resulted in a contract with Vanguard Records. His mid-60's debut recording, Al Oud: Instrumental and Vocal Music From Nubia, was one of the first world music recordings to receive exposure in the West.

In 1971 El Din released his most popular recording, Escalay: The Water Wheel, which is arguably the best-known album of traditional Egyptian folk music in the West. Side one features a 21-and-a-half minute musical composition and poem built on one pulsating drone that rises and falls continually creating hypnotic layers of harmonics with El Din's wordless haunting vocalizations.

The oud's name derives from the word al-oud, which means a branch of wood. The oud has five pairs of strings with each pair tuned to the same pitch, and with a single string, also the thickest and known as the bamteli. The oud, known throughout the Eastern world both from documentation and handed down through oral tradition, is regarded as the king, sultan, or emir of musical instruments and is considered by many to be the principal instrument of the Arabs. El Din is also a master of one of the most ancient of drums - a frame drum - called the tar, the single-skinned frame drum of the upper Nile.

El Din is best-known in the West by helping to organize and playing with the Grateful Dead for their now historic performance at the Great Pyramids at Giza in 1978. He continued to play with and open for the Dead back in the States and worked with the Dead into the 1990's, collaborating with Mickey Hart on a few Rykodisc albums and compilations.

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, who practiced daily for six years to master the tar that El Din gave him, says this about him:

"Hamza's music was mesmerizing. Hypnotic and trancelike. Hamza taught me about the romancing of the drum. His music was very subtle and multilayered. He was a deep listener. Sometimes the music we played together was so soft we could hardly hear ourselves. He'd just suck you into this vortex, and all of a sudden what was quiet seemed loud in its intensity. He suspended time.''

In 1992 El Din collaborated with the Kronos Quartet on their album Pieces of Africa, along with such other musicians as the aforementioned Dumi and Hassan Hakmoun. El Din's most recent recording A Wish was released in 1999.

Hamza el Din also teamed up with director Peter Sellars for their version of the Aeschylus play The Persians at the Salzburg Festival. His compositions have been performed by many ballet companies such as the Maurice Bejart Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, the San Francisco Ballet, the Molissa Fenley Dance Company, and the Lines Contemporary Ballet in San Francisco. The prolific and always creative Hamza el Din resided in the Oakland, California and continued to perform and teach until his death at 76.

Click here for the Hamza el Din Discography.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Ice-Stix Pick sticks to your guitar with space-age micro-fibers. Posted by Hello

The Pikcard fits in your wallet Posted by Hello

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Habib Koite and Bamada at the Skirball Museum, Los Angeles, Calfornia, USA: Thursday 24 February, 2004

As a gift to the loyal readers of The African Beat Digest - We've got 2 pair of tickets to give away for this show. Just post a message of support for African music in this blog.
Click on the COMMENT's link at the bottom of this article to enter your name, add any comments you might have, be sure to include your email address (you must enter your email address to win). Your response must be entered in our ticket giveaway by the end of Tuesday, February 22, 2005, 12 midnight. We will put all the names in a drawing and select our 2 winners on Wednesday 2/23/2005. Winners will be notified by email. Please do not enter if you can not make it to the show!

HABIB KOITÉ and BAMADA, Thursday, February 24, 8:00 p.m.

$30 General, $25 Skirball Members, $15 Students
Advance tickets: (866) 468-3399 or www.ticketweb.com

Malian singer-songwriter-guitarist Habib Koité is one of the leading figures in contemporary world music. Critically acclaimed by Rolling Stone Magazine, The New York Times, NPR's All Things Considered, PRI's The World, and CNN's WorldBeat, Koité's performances with his band Bamada are energetic, lyrical, and transcendent, incorporating a wide breadth of Malian musical traditions into tasteful and dazzling contemporary compositions.

With one foot in the past and one in the future, Habib Koité is an artist for a generation that has witnessed the breaking down of cultural barriers. Hailing from the West African nation of Mali, Koité was born into a family of musician-historians, known as griots, who are central to the West African music culture. Educated at Mali's most prestigious music school, Koité was exposed to ancient Malian musical traditions as well as modern blues, soul, and rock and roll. His flawless blending of the ancient musical traditions of Mali with a healthy blend of western influence has launched him to the forefront of the world music phenomenon.

Critically acclaimed and praised for his talent, his technique, and his accessibility by critics for the New York Times, Rolling Stone Magazine and the L.A. Times, Koité has also been featured on major national radio and television programs around the world, including BBC's The World, CNN Worldbeat, NPR's All Things Considered, WXPN's World Café, and the House of Blues Radio Hour.

"With fifteen years under its belt, this is a band that cooks even in its sleep."—Rootsworld

Recently Koité has joined with Oxfam to protest US policies that dump commodities on poor countries. Koité is using his 33-city Winter 2005 US concert tour to help educate Americans about the plight of struggling African farmers. With 20 years of music and four critically acclaimed albums under his belt, singer and guitarist Habib Koité is bringing his unique sound—and his high hopes for Mali—to North America.

On January 28, Koité and his rhythm section, Bamada, began a 33-city concert tour. More than just a gift for world music fans, the tour will give Koité a chance to educate Americans about the plight of struggling farmers in his home country of Mali.

"Mali is a country with a high percentage of agriculture and where cotton is mostly cultivated," Koité said. "The Malian producers remain in poverty because of their inability to sell their products. This is a situation that must be addressed if there are true intentions to make world trade equitable and develop poor countries such as Mali.

"Koité has joined with Oxfam and celebrities including Michael Stipe, Alanis Morisette, Minnie Driver, Colin Firth, Chris Martin and Youssou N'Dour to protest US and developed nation policies that dump commodities on poor countries that depend on these crops.

In some recently released photos, Koité is pictured having cotton "dumped" on him to symbolize the plight of his country's cotton farmers facing unfair competition from their American counterparts.
Habib Koite covered in cotton in support of Oxfam protesting US policies that dump commodities on poor countries. Posted by Hello

Oxfam's Make Trade Fair campaign is seeking the reform of policies that protect rich US farmers and discriminate against poor farmers around the world. Oxfam wants Malian cotton farmers, for one, to be able to make a living—without having to compete with huge subsidy payments to corporate farms, which encourage overproduction and dumping.

Koité knows firsthand how important growing and selling certain crops can be. Cultivating cotton is a difficult life for farmers with few other options for earning income. Many farmers in Mali spend more money growing the cotton than they can earn selling it at current prices.

"We are a poor country and our (cotton) producers do not have the fortune to benefit from lots of rain," Koité said. "When harvest time comes, because of poor rains they are forced to sell the cotton at a higher price and are unable to compete with (imported) American cotton that is sold at a cheaper rate."

"It is my hope that the organizations which guide world trade will establish measures to address prices and subsidies more equitable for all countries throughout the world," Koité said.

Those attending Koité's concerts will be given the chance to join the campaign and get informed on the issues of fair trade. Concert attendees will also have the opportunity to sign up to Oxfam's Big Noise, a global petition that has gathered more than five million signatures world wide. Postcards with Koité's "dumping" image will also be available at the concerts.

"I think that my voice is one that carries. Because I have a certain popularity at the national and international level, I must seize this opportunity to make an appeal to the entire world to try to help the farmers in underdeveloped countries sell their products," Koité said.

Read a Banning Eyre interview with Habib Koite from Afropop.


2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA (exit Skirball Center Drive off the 405)
(310) 440-4500, http://www.skirball.org/

Parking is free and plentiful.

The African Beat
AfricanBeat @ gmail.com

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Thursday, January 27, 2005

The NAMM Show: January 20-23, 2005 - Anaheim Convention Center

Every January NAMM holds it's winter trade show for music merchandisers in Anaheim, California. Every July is summer NAMMwhich is held somewhere in the middle of the United States, in cities such as Indianapolis, Indiana, and Austin, Texas. NAMM is the largest trade show for music merchandisers and the crowd at Winter NAMM keeps growing and growing. The Anaheim Convention Center was filled to capacity with a record attendance this year. To do the show properly you really need to set aside a few days to be able to cover it all. Besides the exhibition halls, there are scheduled, and impromptu, performances happening throughout the day. Tons of stars wade through the convention halls with their entourage in tow and stop for their scheduled autograph-signing tours of duty at their sponsors booths. Famous musicians made appearances, including Brian Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Kelly Clarkson, Carlos Santana, Peter Frampton, Dave Navarro, Giovanni Hidalgo, as well as R&B musician/songwriter John Legend, who performed on the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus stage.

NAMM is closed to the general public as this is the time for NAMM members to show off their new gear, instruments, and products. Each year more and more software companies are joining NAMM and showing off their computer-based software developed specifically for the music market. 2005 was no exception.

One of many annual events at NAMM that the Southern California drumming community looks forward to is the Remo-sponsored Community Drum Circle held outside the NAMM convention hall (and thus open to everyone even if you couldn't make inside the hall for the show) facilitated by the Father and Founder of the Modern Drum Circle Movement, Arthur Hull.

The African Beat can't say enough good things about Arthur's contribution and committment to recreational drumming. A Master Drummer himself, Arthur focuses on inclusion, anyone at any skill level can participate in his drum circles. His sponsor, Remo, supplies drums and percussion for everyone attending the drum circle, though they always run short since the crowd that shows up to drum inevitiably exceeds the instruments available. People can, of course, bring their own drums to play in the circle, but after a day of trawling through the huge NAMM show, lugging a drum around with you is the last thing you want to do. Other Remo-sponsored drummers also facilitate, such as Paulo Mattioli and Christine Stevens. Occasionally big stars show up to join in. In 2003 Stevie Wonder showed up and the crowd couldn't restrain themselves from running over to him and trying to get in a photo with him. Stevie, of course, didn't have a clue of the crowd's behavior, he just had a jammin' good time.

NAMM is the best opportunity for everyone to show off their new products, and that's the reason The African Beat shows up loyally each year. 2003 was the year of the influx of the Bali djembe's and 2005 is the year that finally just about every hand drumming company now has recreational drumming collection. The swag was not at it's usual level, most exhibitors at trade shows lately seem more cautious these days, and The Beat wonders if it's due to the unstable US ecomony. After all, since GW Bush became president the US Stock Market has been trending downwards and is still around the same level as it was when he was first elected. These days more money is going into product development than towards copious swag. But swag does not a convention make, it's just a perc. What really interests us are the new products.

The new Remo double ring djembe with metallic finish Posted by Hello

One interesting development is Remo's focus on improving the sound of their Paulo Mattioli line of signature djembes and dun-duns. Their new line of Paulo Mattiolo Metalized Floating Ring Djembe (photo above) features a second floating ring making this product more closely resemble a traditional West African djembe. It is tuned as you would a traditional djembe, by pulling diamonds. Their line of matching dun-duns are tuned the same way. They are made of composite materials and use Remo's "Nuskyn" drumhead, making these instruments lightweight and almost indestructable. Sound quality is much clearer than previous efforts.

Another interesting product that hand drum educators might find useful is from the Educational Music Accessories Company (EMAC) called "Removable Conga Hands." Their website is not active yet so check back. But basically their product can be placed on top of any hand drum or even a table or a bucket. It shows correct hand positions for teaching and practicing music using a color-coded system to show hand placement to get the proper hand position and pitch to make the sounds a hand drum can make.

Many companies are entering the drum bag market, including many from Asia and even a surf wear company, Body Glove. Body Glove's drum bags were shown by Sonic Sales who are working on perfecting some interesting drum bags particularly suited for cymbals, frame drums, and most cylinder-shaped drums.

More interesting products were the latest improvements to the Stick and a new style of stringing an acoustic guitar from Babicz Guitars. The Spider features a torque reducing split bridge and an unusual way of attaching the strings at the body. One of the coolest new products we saw were the guitar picks called the Pikcard which come with 4 guitar picks on a handy business card that can be popped out for use. Another great innovation in picks were the Ice Pix which have a small material that will stick to any surface (with some space-age suction material). This is a great product for performing guitarists who are always losing their picks on stage. Just attach a few Ice Pix to your guitar and off to the stage you go. Both these new styles of picks worked just perfectly on the new Strumstick The Beat bought at a great show price. Sometimes called a "backpack guitar" the Strumstick has three strings and a diatonic tuning making it easy to play and versatile for most any situation.

Another stand-out product that is just being imported the past few months from Asia (from mostly South Korean sources) is a Roll-Up Piano which comes in a midi version and covers about 4 octaves. Just imagine taking a piano and all your midi sounds with you in a handy almost-pocket-size pouch. The mind boggles!

The Beat spoke to Jimmy Church the resident audio-guru at West L.A. Music who found some new products at NAMM that he thought were worth mention: the Audio-Technica AT892 Micro Set which is an omnidirectional condenser headset performance microphone that comes in black and beige at a great affordable price ($250) and Miroslav™ Philharmonik™, a powerful orchestral workstation based on the legendary orchestral and choir sample collections of Miroslav Vitous.

All in all, the NAMM show never fails to dissapoint those of us forward-looking thinkers with music on our minds!

One of many official Press Releases from NAMM:

Record Number of Exhibitors Show Hottest New Musical Instruments To Buyers From Around the World

ANAHEIM, Calif., January 20, 2005—The music products industry’s new sales year reached a crescendo today as the 103rd NAMM Show got underway in Anaheim bringing thousands of NAMM Member retail music store buyers, celebrities and guests to see and play the latest musical innovations from a record 1,426 exhibiting companies.

The four-day event, produced annually by NAMM, the International Music Products Association, is the largest non-consumer show for musical instruments and the site of most major new product launches, sales meetings and networking for the $16 billion global music products industry.

Judging by strong pre-show registration numbers, the show is on pace shatter last year’s all-time registration record of 74,236. This year, the association is reporting an increase of 13 percent overall and 23 percent in international registration.

Although the show is 103 years old, the products inside are anything but. From keyboards with built-in karaoke machines to the latest in home recording technology to a tiny guitar amplifier the size of a roll of breath mints, the NAMM Show is known around the world as a giant “toy store” for musicians, and every year attracts a strong celebrity presence.

“The NAMM Show isn’t just another convention, another trade meeting,” said Joe Lamond, president and CEO, NAMM. “This very un-conventional show is a launch pad for the latest, coolest gear. And even though these products will soon be in music stores, many artists like Eddie Van Halen, Stevie Wonder and others often stop by for a sneak peak, adding to the show’s excitement and energy.”


The International Music Products Association, commonly called NAMM in reference to the organization’s popular NAMM trade shows, is the not-for-profit association that unifies, leads and strengthens the $16 billion global musical instruments and products industry. The association’s activities and programs are designed to promote music making to people of all ages. NAMM is comprised of nearly 9,000 Member companies. For more information about NAMM, interested parties can visit http://namm.com or call 800-767-NAMM (6266).

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Majek Fashek in Santa Monica

review to come

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Big Celebration - Fela Kuti Day - Liemert Park Village: SAT 16 Oct 2004

Los Angeles, California

A Celebration of the Life, Lyrics, and Legacy of Fela Kuti:
Live Music, Food, Arts Fair, and Mural Dedication

A Festival Honoring Africa's Celebrated Musician and Activist

Exit South off the 10 freeway at Crenshaw Blvd, Left at W. 43rd Street.

WHEN: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2004 from 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM

FELA KUTI DAY, a tribute to the late father of Afrobeat music and one of Africa's pre-eminent political activists, is coming again to LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE. This year's theme, "Power to the People," will honor the message of political empowerment FELA promoted in his music. Former Los Angeles Police Chief BERNARD PARKS will give the opening speech at the event. The day will feature performances by local artists paying tribute to both FELA and the spirit of Afrobeat's high-energy rhythms. Booths will also be set up throughout the village, offering African cuisine and arts and crafts to the public. The day will end with the dedication of a FELA KUTI MURAL to the VILLAGE, ensuring his legacy is known for generations to come.

Guests of note this year include ROCK THE VOTE, which will register voters and hand out information on the upcoming November elections. Also appearing is the HIP-HOP SUMMIT, presented by RUSSELL SIMMONS, performing on-stage to promote the causes of civil rights and the fight against poverty and injustice (Performance List to Be Announced).

DJ NNAMDI and RADIO AFRODICIA will be broadcasting live from the heart of LEIMERT PARK VILLAGE from 2:00 – 4:00 PM, playing classic FELA tracks and Afrobeat music. RADIO AFRODICIA airs on KPFK, 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, or on the Web at afrodicia.com.

........::::- ABOUT FELA -::::...........

Fela Anikulapo Kuti, born on October 15, 1938 in Abeokuta, Nigeria, was way ahead of his time in almost every way possible. Fela was a singer-composer, trumpet, sax and keyboard player, bandleader, politician, and marijuana rights activist. He was one of Africa's most controversial musicians and throughout his life he continued to fight for the rights of the common man and woman despite vilification, harassment, and even imprisonment by the government of Nigeria. Born to Yoruban parents, Kuti was strongly influenced by both parents, his mother being Funmilayo, a leading figure in the nationalist struggle. Practically all of his records are dominated by political events and discussions from the approach of Pan-Africanism.

In 1954, Kuti joined the Cool Cats as a singer in that highlife band (highlife being the rage of the Lagos music scene at the time). During this period Kuti developed his own unusual sound which he described as highlife-jazz. In 1968 Kuti announced the arrival of Afro-beat, within the year was promoting his sound all over the USA on a 10-month tour where he became influenced by American jazz. When he returned to his homeland he opened a nightclub, the Shrine, and changed the name of his band to Africa 70 (and later to Egypt 80). His bands traditionally included the typical huge line-up consisting of many singers and dancers, numerous saxophonists, trumpeteers, drummers, percussionists, and of course, many guitarists blending African rhythms and jazz horn lines with politicized song lyrics.

Fela's music was intricate, rather than calling it Afro-Beat as did Kuti, you might more arguably consider it Afro-jazz. Entire recordings often consisted of just a few long songs and this propensity for jamming set up a roadblock for Fela to attain commercial acceptance in the United States. He also abhored performing a song after recording it, and this led to audience disinterest in the U.S. where the people wanted their music to be recognizable hits. Again his musical vision was way ahead of his time as evidenced by the growing popularity of jam bands and their similiar propensity for jamming and not repeating songs played in concert.

Throughout most of his life Fela continued his outspoken attacks on the Nigerian government. When the people returned to power in 1979, Kuti began his own political party - MOP (Movement of the People). The military returned to power in 1983 and within the year Kuti was sentenced to five years in prison on a spurious currency smuggling charge. He was released in 1986 after yet another change of government. Were Fela alive today he, of course, would be treated with even worse disdain by the government now that Nigeria is quickly becoming predominately Muslim.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti died on Saturday, August 2, 1997, at 4pm (local time) in Lagos, Nigeria. It had been rumoured for some time that Fela had a serious illness he was refusing treatment for, many said he was suffering from prostate cancer. But as it turns out, Fela died from complications due to AIDS. As Fela's brother, Olikoye Ransome Kuti, said at a news conference:

"The immediate cause of death of Fela was heart failure, but there were many complications arising from the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome".

Today Fela's impact can be seen, especially during the month of October, when many celebrations commemorating the date of his birth (October 15, 1938) take place around the world. Fela was a man of great influence in the African music world, he is irreplaceable and his presence is sorely misssed.

--courtesy of The African Music Encyclopedia