Posts Tagged ‘Afromotive’

Afropop Band, Zansa, Releases Debut Album at Isis 9/7
Zansa CD Release Brings Cultural Music to the Mountains


Afropop band Zansa is releasing their debut album Djansa, with a live performance at Isis Restaurant & Music Hall on Saturday, September 7, 2013. Senegalese griot musician Diali Cissokho and his band Kaira Ba will be opening the show and their will be African inspired dinner specials created by Chef Mike Mahoney.

Robust and rhythmic, melodic and smooth, the music of Zansa presents a dynamic synthesis of centuries’ old West African songs and modern instrumentation. Zansa is a Nouchi slang word meaning “blend,” and the group’s debut album, Djansa, meaning “dance,” delivers a dance party vibe with a folkloric storyline. Check out their high energy live-footage video announcing the show –>

Based in Asheville, NC, Zansa is led by Adama Dembele (lead vocals, djembe, and percussion), a 33rd generation musician from Ivory Coast, whose ancestry is recognized throughout West Africa as the House of the Djembe. Since the 12th century, oral storytelling musicians/historians known as griots have carried forth the Dembele name and recognition as masters of the djembe. Today, drummers from across West Africa still study under the Dembele family in the Ivory Coast. Adama moved to the United States in 2008 and has since performed alongside other West African-influenced bands, including Afromotive and Toubab Krewe. Zansa is Dembele’s debut outfit, offering songs that are influenced by modern Zouglou beats and traditional African stories, sung in French, Bambara and Baoule dialects, as well as English.

The album, Djansa, marries Adama’s West African drumming traditions with modern instrumentation and song forms. While the djembe drives the rhythmic component, the violin plays a unique role as a lead melodic instrument, echoing the soku, a one-string predecessor that originated in Mali. Electric guitar, bass, percussion, and drum set lend familiarity to foreign sounds. “Many of the songs are from old stories I grew up with, such as the legend of Donsson, the hunter,” says Adama. “We sing about love and celebration, respect and understanding, and we play hard.” This cultural and sonic mix offers an original take on the authentic music of West Africa.

ZansaSummerPressPicHiRes2Along with Dembele, Zansa is Patrick Fitzsimons on guitar and vocals; Sean Mason on the drumset; Ryan Reardon and bass and vocals; and Matt Williams on violins, guitar, and vocals. Djansa is being released nationally online (iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby) and in select record stores on September 10, 2013, with performances throughout the Southeast to follow.

Pre-order Djansa on iTunes on Aug 13 and immediately receive “Mi Wa” single for free. Keep an eye out for the debut of the “Mi Wa” music video the same day.

Stay tuned to www.zansamusic.com for more information and links to pre-order the album.

Zansa Album Release Show @ Isis Music Hall

Saturday, September 7, 2013
Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba open the show

Doors 8pm, Show 9pm; Ages 18+; $8 adv, $10 dos
African inspired dinner specials created by Chef Mike Mahoney
743 Haywood Road Asheville, NC 28806

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On Saturday, February 25 from 6 to 10 p.m., the YMI Cultural Center at 39 S. Market St. sets the stage for Asheville’s first Soumu, or in West African lingo, a celebration of dancing, singing, food, and music. The evening will offer a dinner of flavors from West Africa, including seafood soupe kandia and chicken and vegetable mafé, plus wines and beer from Pisgah and Wedge brewing companies.

Entertainment includes West African drumming and dance demonstrations, a performance by Belle Afrique, and music by Asheville’s contemporary Ivorian afropop ensemble Zansa, featuring members of Afromotive.

Tickets are $15 at the door, $10 for ages 12 and younger, and include dinner, two drink tickets, and an evening of culture and West African entertainment. All proceeds benefit Adama Dembele in an effort to help him get his permanent Green Card for U.S. citizenship.

Adama Dembele is a 33rd generation djembe player from the Ivory Coast in West Africa, who has performed with various internationally recognized acts on three continents, including Oumou Sangare, Angelique Kidjo, and Salif Keita. He has lived in Asheville for five years, teaching drumming workshops in town and across the country and performing with local bands, including Afromotive, Toubab Krewe, and Zansa.

Adama was a LEAF in Schools and Streets instructor in 2011. Other teaching experiences include regular drumming workshops at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind, Stone Academy in Greenville, SC, and in Asheville at Rainbow Mountain Children’s School and Erwin and TC Robertson high schools. Adama is a cultural gem whose mission is to share his musical heritage. This event is an effort to help keep him here.Special thanks to our sponsors: Chef Abdoul, Pisgah Brewing Company, The Wedge Brewery, and the YMI Cultural Center.

For more details visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/218988491525299/

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Based in Asheville, NC, Afromotive is helping to start a new wave of uptempo afrobeat music– fusing West African rhythms, song forms, and instrumentation with funk, improvisation, and straight-ahead dance beats.

Adama Dembele of Afromotive. Photo by Jon Leidel

Adding to the experience is thirty-third generation djembe player Adama Dembele from Cote d‘Ivoire. He has toured several continents, performing with various major acts such Oumou Sangare, Salif Keita, Affou Keita, Sogona Djata and many others. These traditional West African rhythms combined with a mentality that moves beyond pure traditionalism and into new realms of musical possibilities is what Afromotive brings to its audiences. It’s a sound that crosses musical and ethnic boundaries.

On their debut album SCARE TACTICS, Afromotive takes the raw energy of their live performance into the studio. This album is an elaboration on the language of afrobeat music, yielding a truly unique sound that is rooted in tradition. Afromotive also released their single, SIMBO in 2009.

Afromotive provides unique exciting music to “dive into,” describes Afromotive bass player Ryan Reardon, because it is fun to listen to and dance with a strong rhythm and groove. “There is no separation,” he said. “If the music is playing, you’re dancing. It’s one in the same. We bring a dance show.”

Called, “an explosive, performance-based group that does more than just play a show. The Afromotive strive to create an event.” ~ Matthew Godbey- Charleston Post & Courier

Afromotive is: Adama Dembele: djembe, congas, timbales, vocals; Ryan Reardon: bass, vocals; Adam Chase: drumset; Ben Hovey: trumpet, synth; Jason Moore: tenor sax; Justin Powell: keyboards; and Andrew Robinson: guitar, vocals.

Show Details at a Glance:

Abella Café
Friday, October 29, 2010

9:30pm, 18+
204 Draper Rd
Blacksburg, VA 24060

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For more info visit: https://dreamspider.wordpress.com/2010/05/18/funk-and-world-beats-at-the-lab-for-the-world-cup-kickoff-on-saturday-june-12th/

You can also find this event on Facebook

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Daytime Big Screen airing of the USA v. England game
Late night dance-party with Afromotive and Josh Blake’s Jukebox

It’s time to get excited for the worlds biggest sporting event! Come and celebrate the kickoff of the World Cup at the Lexington Ave Brewery, the LAB, in Asheville on Saturday, June 12th.  There is a full day and night planned with Funk , World Beats, and Soccer!

The folks at the Lexington Avenue Brewery are showing the first USA game (USA Vs. England) on a projector screen in their main room for the soccer community and fans in Asheville! Kick off is at 2:30pm. This year, The World Cup  is being held in South Africa. Get into the spirit with halftime and post game entertainment in by the Asheville Manding. Asheville Manding is Ryan Reardon and Adama Dembele from Afromotive along with Tasana Camara, who is a singer/kora player/balafon player from Guinea. The band is named after the Manding people of West Africa, one of the largest ethnicities and the “keepers of the flame” if you will, of traditional West African music.

The daytime event is a “suggested donation” benefit for former ABASA president and player Jack Brown and his family. Jack recently was admitted to the hospital with flu-like symptoms and ended up having a serious infection. It turned out that he had to battle a life threatening infection which resulted in the loss of his right leg. We are calling out to all soccer fans to come enjoy this game with a great crowd and atmosphere, and to donate what you can to Jack and his family as they begin to tackle a mountain of medical bills. Members of the soccer league will be taking donations at the door. There will also be a raffle following the game with some pretty sweet prizes.

The late-night dance party features music by Afromotive and Josh Blake JukeBox in the back room at the LAB. The doors open at 9pm with JBJB starting around 9:30pm. Afromotive headlines and the music will go til 2am. The cost for the show is $7.

Adama Dembele. Photo by Jon Leidel.

Afromotive is creating a new wave of high energy dance music fusing West African rhythms and instrumentation with and American funk and pop sensibility for an experience that can only be described as infectious. Proudly born as a multi-ethnic crew in progressive Asheville, NC, the band has earned a formidable reputation over four years of relentless touring and festival appearances. At their core is thirty-third generation djembe player Adama Dembele from Ivory Coast, West Africa. He has performed with many prominent world acts including Oumou Sangare, Salif Keita, and Sogona Djata, to name a few. Adama’s vast knowledge of West African rhythms and intercontinental touring experience combines with his American counterparts’ hook-laden song writing and polished production for a fresh new take on the world beat genre. With positive reviews and sales of their debut full-length studio album and appearances at various national and regional festivals, including Bonnaroo, Joshua Tree Music Festival, and Echo Project, Afromotive continues to share their passion and energy with the masses.

Josh Blake

Josh Blake’s Jukebox:
On route to Jamaica in January 1997, Josh stopped in Asheville, N.C. to visit some of his friends. Soon thereafter he moved to Asheville to help establish the musical force known as GFE. A multidimensional artist, Josh’s musical understanding is based on his 16 years as guitarist and songwriter. With a travelers knowledge of our world, Josh aims to use his talents to bring unity and jubilation, to spread earth consciousness and end social injustice.

Josh Blake’s Jukebox is composed of some of Asheville’s finest musicians. The drummer Patrick Thomas and guitarist Casey Kramer are from the funky Asheville powerhouse Strut. The band also features Kyle Colclasure on bass from the local hip hop band GFE and more recently Super Collider. Affectionately dubbed “The Hot Sauce” female vocalists Carolyn Smith and Marisa Albert spice up the show with beautiful harmonies. Keyboardist Frank Mapstone from Yo Mamma’s Big Fat Booty Band and The Big Old Nasty Get Down has been known to join in on the fun. Multi-instrumentalist, Matt Williams, adds to the diverse sound of Josh Blake’s Jukebox. It is not unusual for Josh to include any number of special guests during his performances. Along with packing local venues, Josh was honored to have a song selected for the 2008 Mooged Out album, and has been chosen to play many of Asheville’s special events and festivals. With songs that range from rock to ragtime, hip-hop to funk, Josh Blake’s shows deliver what most listeners crave…great diverse music with lyrics that emphasize proper intention.

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By Dan Kunz

Center Daily Times– State College Pennsylvania

Friday September 18, 2009

Perhaps it was the complementary barbecue food. Maybe it was the crowd’s response. Whatever the reason, North Carolina’s Afromotive is back at Zeno’s Pub less than two months after their July gig. Electric bassist Ryan Reardon couldn’t be more pleased with State College’s reception to his group.

“This will be our third time playing here,” Reardon said. “We’re hoping for an even bigger turnout than the previous show, and the last one was great.”

Photo By Monty Chandler: Rhythm band Afromotive returns to State College.

Photo By Monty Chandler: Rhythm band Afromotive returns to State College.

As the name would imply, the band fuses traditional African folk music and rhythms with a jazzy funk twist. The sextet effectively channels Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti at his most vibrant and political, 1970s-era James Brown at his most brooding and militant, and, when trumpeter Sean Smith takes center stage, Miles Davis at his most exploratory.

“People were definitely enjoying us from the get-go when we began playing gigs in Asheville,” said Reardon, originally a native of Buffalo, N.Y. “I had traveled to Africa in 2001 and was exposed to Afrobeat and traditional folk music for the first time. It changed my life. I relocated to North Carolina from New York when I finished school. I just needed a change of scene.”

Among the musicians Reardon met up with was singer and percussionist Adam Dembele, a 33rd-generation djembe player originally from the Ivory Coast, who embodies the elements of old African griot storytellers and is crucial to the Afromotive sound.

“Music is in this man’s blood,” Reardon said of Dembele. “He brought an encyclopedia of musical knowledge to the band, as well as many songs indigenous to Africa that we perform in a modern style.”

So does one need to grasp the intricacies of jazz or the evolution of African music to fully appreciate what Afromotive is trying to achieve, or is this a group you can simply shake your butt to?

“Hopefully, the latter,” Reardon said. “If a band can pull of different complex musical elements — jazz, African poly-rhythms and so forth — and make it look easy, that’s when the audience can respond. I’d like to think Afromotive’s music is challenging enough for the serious music listeners who keep an ear out for all the different components, yet simple enough for the dancers who just want to get down.”

Afromotive will perform at 10 p.m. Sept. 18 at Zeno’s. Call 237-4350 for more information.

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Click here to visit the KDHX Blog and listen to the audio stream of Afromotive

Photos by Chabel Caler Jiménez

Photos by Chabel Caler Jiménez

North Carolina Afrobeat band the Afromotive performed live at the Magnolia Avenue Studios this past July, and Ebony Hairston, the KDHX Blog’s newest contributor, was in attendance. Photos by Chabel Caler Jiménez.

“Music is universal. I played with different bands, funk, jazz, mixed bands. Life is a big city and we are a village,” Adama Dembele of the Afromotive explained. Demebele, learned the ajembe from his father and has played all his life. He hails from the Ivory Coast and has been traveling with the Afromotive for around two years now.

Photos by Chabel Caler Jiménez

Photos by Chabel Caler Jiménez

The sound of this band makes you feel like you just took a vacation to a heavenly riot of drums. Its improvisational wall of sound features guitars, trumpets and keyboards. Coolest people ever; everyone speaks and sings in a multilingual groove. Thank you, or (E-ne-che) for taking time out for the KDHX audience.

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By Beth Ann Downey
Collegian Staff Writer, State College, PA

Posted on July 30, 2009 4:00 AM


Afromotive, a fusion of West African and funk musical elements, will bring its beats downtown.

Afromotive performing at The Vislulite Theatre April 16th 2009

Photo By Monty Chandler Photography

It certainly isn’t the ’70s anymore, but Afromotive will return to State College with its innovative music that originated in that era for listeners to judge for themselves.

Even though the band is influenced by West African percussive elements and American funk, Afromotive’s afrobeat music in no way labels it as a throwback band.

In fact, Afromotive, which will perform this weekend, doesn’t sound like any other ‘afrobands’ out there, bassist and percussionist Ryan Reardon said.

“Our appeal comes from the fact no one is playing like we do,” he said.

The band also provides exciting music to “dive into,” Reardon said, because it is fun to listen to and dance with a strong rhythm and groove.

“There is no separation,” he said. “If the music is playing, you’re dancing. It’s one in the same. We bring a dance show.”

The way Afromotive interweaves traditional African elements and James Brown-style funk with the band’s own spin is what gives the music a certain uniqueness even within the afrobeat genre, and this same uniqueness is what Reardon described as being a “driving force” behind the band

He added that many songs start with a simple idea that focuses on inspiring both the band and its audience. The band has recently released a new single called “Simbo,” which is available to download for free on the band’s Web site. Reardon said it is an “outdoor, sunny summer afternoon” kind of tune that draws greatly from the band’s African influence.

Reardon finds inspiration from all different aspects of life. He said he can go into his backyard and listen to sounds of animals and bugs and he also draws from seeing people enjoy the band’s music during a live show.

Ryan Knowles, saxophone player for Afromotive, said the most inspiring thing about the band’s music from an artist’s perspective is how “in the moment” Afromotive’s songs and live performances turn out to be. In his song writing and his performances, Knowles said he sometimes doesn’t really know what he’s doing or what he’s thinking about.

“I’ll write a song, and it’ll take a couple of years for me to have an understanding of where it comes from and what I was doing at the time,” he said.

The band doesn’t consciously pull from any sort of style, Knowles added, but the members will always just run with any inspiration or idea that crops up.

“Any kind of music I do, I always want to just express myself and represent where I am in my life,” he said. “I think we do that.”

Although he is not conscious of many influences, Knowles said the afrobeat style is where the band subconsciously draws from because there are Africans in the group. He said the band really displays both African and American elements equally, but that this fact does not constitute Afromotive’s music as world music.

“What makes us world music is an awareness of the universe and everything that’s going on in the world,” Knowles said.

Adama Dembele, a 33rd generation djembe player from Cote d’Ivoire, is a current band member that lends greatly to Afromotive’s strong ethnic background.

Knowles said Afromotive also previously had an African lead singer, but since the former singer moved back to his homeland, the band has “scaled down.”

Afromotive currently has no lead singer, and instead vocals are shared between band members.

Knowles said the band also used to have a full horn section that served as back-up instrumentation to vocals, but the fact that horns are representative of afrobeat music didn’t inhibit the band from ditching the section to help move the group into a new direction.

“We’re trying to hone in on what the core sound is,” Knowles said.

The scaleback has made Afromotive more of an instrumental band, but Knowles said the band doesn’t need the extra musicians and a big sound to make great music.

“I’m always trying to change things up and throw wild cards in there and have fun with the music,” Knowles said.

He added that the lineup of musicians currently in the band — which changes sporadically — is focused on the craft full-time instead of having major distractions like families and jobs, which takes nothing away from the band’s rehearsal time.

“I was sick of playing with musicians that weren’t full time,” Knowles said. “We needed musicians that really take it seriously.”

Even though Afromotive has gone through about 40 different musicians to find the rotation the band tours with today, Knowles said that most bands go through this sort of phase, and it was cool for him to see the evolution of Afromotive as a whole.

Reardon said the music stayed “cohesive” throughout the many member switches because the band has a core group of songs that hasn’t changed. He added that different musicians coming in with their own personalities brought different approaches to the sound of the band, helping keep the music “fresh.”

“We gave the musicians the freedom to do what they want to because that’s where the music really takes hold,” Reardon said. “You need to have a little bit of faith in them and trust their abilities.”

Knowles said different musicians coming in and out was a lot to keep up with at times, but it was also exciting for him because he likes “flying by the seat of his pants.”

“I like driving at night with sunglasses on and the headlights off,” he said jokingly. “That’s how I live my life. That’s what I think makes for good music.”

Although Knowles takes an impulsive approach to his life and his music, he said it also takes a great amount of precision to play the type of music Afromotive does. He said that upon hearing the band, it’s usually hard to predict what will happen from song to song, and that the music kind of “smacks you in the face.”

“It’s like a rollercoaster ride,” he said. “We want people all over the world to be able to grab onto it and enjoy it.”

He added the music does not speak to any particular demographic, and that anyone who hears it should be able to relate to it.

People from all walks of life are fans of Afromotive, and Knowles said he’s seen both the young and the old dancing to the band’s rhythm.

“If you’re playing music that makes people want to dance, they’re gonna dance,” he said.

Reardon said the band’s live show usually consists of the band playing “fast and hard” and encouraging the crowd to clap and sing along. He added the band had a lot of fun when they last played State College in May, and hopes Afromotive will have the same luck this weekend.

“When we bring a show, we want everyone to be with us in the same place and the same frame of mind,” he said.

Knowles said it’s become evident that young girls in college will dance to the band’s music, and pretty much anything else that “makes you move.”

“And as long as the girls are dancing, the guys are dancing too,” he said.

If you go

What: Live performance from Afromotive

When: 10:30 p.m. Saturday, August 1

Where: Zeno’s Pub, 100 W. College Ave.

Details: $3 before 9:30 p.m., $4 after 9:30 p.m., 21-and-older

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