Northern Thorns

Seattle Soukous Rock | Northern Thorns

Tag: rumba

Horoya Band – Had the Wrong Name the Whole Time

I think I mentioned before on this blog, a while ago I was sent a 45RPM record that I hadn’t ordered in a package with one that I had. The bonus LP had no sleeve and was filthy, but when I cleaned it up and put it on I was taken quickly with it. Gorgeous guitar-driven rumba with a touch of north African mystery in the notes. All played by a very tight band.

Conde Demba Chanteur Horoya Band

Conde Demba Chanteur Horoya Band

I researched it a bit looking for more by the same group. Not knowing the intricacies of French, I assumed that the full name of the project was Conde Demba Chanteur Horoya Band, or perhaps the operative searchable words were Conde Demba. I didn’t find much, they had another LP under the same name that I tracked down and it’s just as good.

Months later I stumbled across Horoya Band, and realized I had no idea what I was searching for. Conde Demba was a guest vocalist for two records, it seems. I’ve since found a lot of amazing music from them, from several iterations and with a diverse quality of sounds and styles.

The Horoya Band was from Guinea (I had thought Ivory Coast for some reason), and they were a national treasure, to the extent that the state eventually nationalized them (whatever that means) and they became Horoya Band National.

I even tracked down a CD of theirs called Paya-Paya, on the Dakar Sound label. I love finding reissues of this stuff whenever possible, both because I like the opportunity to actually give the artists part of my purchase money and because it means that people are still listening to music that I like. Sometimes I feel like a lonely archeologist in Seattle with no peers who I can share this stuff with. Or at least no one who will care like I do.

Horoya Band Paya-Paya

Horoya Band Paya-Paya

Shout out to the worldservice blog, where I made this discovery.

Barboza 8/6

Poster for the new show:

Northern Thorns, Stella Crest, Brandon Krebs at Barboza August 6th 2017 8pm $8, 21+

Northern Thorns at Barboza Poster

Northern Thorns Stella Crest Brandon Krebs at Barboza August 6 Show Poster

Bonfire Video Up Now

The Old and New World

rumba-on-the-river-pg-13

Page 13 of Rumba On the River. I like the way Stewart describes the arrival of Latin music to Congo. Much of it was black music from the New World, shaped through the lives of generations of slaves, coming home to Africa through the phonograph and being eagerly greeted by the neighborhoods of Kinshasa.

To Start At the Beginning

This music I’m obsessed with, cavacha or soukous music, is from Zaire, now the Democratic Rebublic of the Congo, and its lineage like any other music can be traced as far into the past as you’re willing to dig. But the stuff I’m obsessed with is from the mid- to late-1970’s basically; I consider that time period the golden age of hard soukous music (by the way, most of the history I know surrounding this I gleaned from Gary Stewart’s excellent book Rumba On the River, the Congo music bible for uninitiated English speakers.

Gary Stewart Rumba On the River

Stewart describes early in his book the phonograph becoming available to the Congolese and all the music of Cuba and South America migrating back across the Atlantic after centuries of a sort of exiled development in the west. Access to recorded music, and migrants from outside the cities, made the scene in Kinshasa and Brazzaville possible.

So, rumba happened, and got hugely popular, all over Africa. Often the genre was referred to as “Congo” music. It eventually grew to utilize large bands with multiple percussionists and electric guitarists, big horn sections and 3-5+ vocalists (the stars of the scene generally). The primary percussion instruments were maracas, bells and conga drums. Some big names such as African Jazz and OK Jazz reflect the Congolese affinity for the American term Jazz, even if their sound bore little resemblence to it. This Congo rumba music is often beautifully melodic, and there’s an absolute ton of it out there to discover. The scene thrived for decades.

Sometime in the early 1970’s (near as I can tell), the American drum set was introduced to Kinshasa, and almost overnight everything got driving, louder, and irresistibly danceable. Bands discovered Jimi Hendrix and James Brown (whose visit to Africa in 1974 is constantly cited as a watershed moment for African music), and everything took on a rock and roll quality, even using the backbeat at times.

This is the era I’m in love with. The marriage of the qualities of Congolese rumba with western rock music produced the best sounds I’ve ever heard. And though some people know the term “soukous,” I think the music of this era deserves to be heard more. So that’s my mission, on this site and through my own band.

OK, that’s more than enough for now

– Adam

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