"The second album from the rapper, beatboxer and songwriter from Syracuse, New York and the Guinean kora virtuoso is built around smartly sculpted arrangements on fully-developed new songs. The key lies not in the glorious collision of two contrasting cultures but how seamlessly they are intertwined in a common musical language.”
Joe Driscoll has gained fame over the last decade for his unique blend of folk, funk and hip-hop. Sekou Kouyate, from Guinea, is one of the most innovative and virtuosic players of the kora, the 21-stringed West African harp. When these two seemingly disparate artistic forces are combined, an incendiary musical reaction takes place.
Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate’s electrifying second album, Monistic Theory, brings together two musicians from vastly different backgrounds in search of the commonalities that are uniquely revealed by artistic expression.
LAKOU MIZIK ON TOUR
TOUR DATES (MORE TBA)
|April 23||Washington, DC||Dance Place|
|April 29||Denver, CO||Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center|
|April 30||Denver, CO||Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center|
|May 1||Denver, CO||Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center|
|May 6||New York City||BRIC House Ballroom|
|June 4||Providence, RI||PVDFEST 2016|
Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate Release First Single Tokira From Their Upcoming Album Monistic Theory, Out May 13 Worldwide
Rocky Dawuni's latest album, Branches of the Same Tree was nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Reggae Album. Dawuni is the first musician from Ghana to ever receive a GRAMMY nomination. He is also only the second African to be nominated in this category.
Rocky Dawuni was nominated alongside modern Jamaican music greats Luciano, Barrington Levy, Jah Cure and Morgan Heritage, who took home the award. Dawuni stated, "Much like the blues, reggae is the root of so much popular music. I am proud to contribute to its grand tradition and legacy. As my album title states, we are all 'branches of the same tree' and I am honored to represent Africa and stand alongside my Jamaican brothers."
Dawuni released his 6th album Branches of the Same Tree (Cumbancha) on March 31, 2015 to rave reviews worldwide and the album landed on Billboard’s Top 10 Reggae Chart. He has since toured the world with memorable performances in Canada, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, Iceland, Greenland, the UK, and across the USA, as well as taking part in prestigious performances at the Grammy Museum’s “Concert For Social Justice” with David Crosby, Melissa Etheridge, Tom Morello and Jackson Browne and the “Under One Sky” concert (with ONE.org) during the UN General Assembly 2015 to celebrate the announcement of the Global Goals in New York City.
On the heels of this high profile year, Dawuni was invited to join the Leadership Council of The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights. In this role, he joins other esteemed members including former US President Bill Clinton, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Quincy Jones, and Harry Belafonte to advance the cause of the organization's human rights initiatives. Dawuni also serves as a UN Foundation Ambassador for the Global Alliance For Clean Cookstoves amongst other social responsibility endeavors.
Influenced by the soulful beats of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti, the positive messages and deep grooves of Bob Marley and the infectious, sing-along anthems of Michael Franti, and K'naan, Rocky Dawuni's songs straddle the musical boundaries between Africa, the Caribbean and the US to create a universally appealing sound that unites generations and cultures.
Dawuni added, “My Branches of the Same Tree brought Ghanaian music a historic nomination at the 2016 GRAMMYs. Garnering such an accolade is a real symbol of the paradigm change in reggae music and a massive recognition of Afro Roots as a new global force. Branches brought a progressive fusion of reggae, Afrobeat and soul music to a global audience. Our journey has not been one of swift victories and overnight successes but a step-by-step climb toward enduring prominence. Although we did not win the physical award, my nomination is a landmark step announcing our arrival on the world stage.”
Interview with Rocky Dawuni on Grammy.com: http://bit.ly/20Ev5pl
Contact Management: Cary Sullivan 1.310.663.7227 email@example.com
Contact Cumbancha: Joe Adler 1.802.425.2118 firstname.lastname@example.org
"African, funk and rap influences combine in an energetic performance that ends with a powerfully political surge. They have developed into a tight, attacking unit, in which the virtuoso kora work is integrated into sturdy playing from the band. Exuberant virtuosic fusion." - The Guardian
Set for release by Cumbancha on May 13, 2016, Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate’s electrifying second album, Monistic Theory, derives its title from the concept that reality is a unified whole and that all existing things can be ascribed to or described by a single concept or system. It's an apt philosophy for this boundary-crossing collaboration, one that brings together two musicians from vastly different backgrounds in search of the commonalities that are uniquely revealed by artistic expression.
Joe Driscoll has gained fame over the last decade for his unique blend of folk, funk and hip-hop. Sekou Kouyate, from Guinea, is one of the most innovative and virtuosic players of the kora, the 21-stringed West African harp. When these two seemingly disparate artistic forces are combined, an incendiary musical reaction takes place. "Our styles are totally different but complementary," Driscoll explains, "It's like putting baking soda and vinegar together."
Joe and Sekou first met in 2010 at a festival in Marseille, France and this explosive combustibility was evident in their jaw-dropping live shows and energizing debut album, Faya, which was released by Cumbancha Discovery in 2014. Performing as a quartet, backed by drums and bass, Joe & Sekou have performed at hundreds of festivals and venues across Europe, North America and Africa, earning rave reviews whenever they set foot on stage.
It hasn't always been an easy ride. Music may be their common language, but that doesn't help much with the day-to-day communication needed for touring, recording and promotion. Visa issues have provided a harsh reality check to their utopian vision more then once. Add to that the fact that Sekou's homeland was a victim of the Ebola crisis for over two years, making anyone traveling with a Guinean passport a target of excessive scrutiny. Once, when driving across the border from Canada into the US, the band was detained by border agents in HAZMAT suits, refusing to let them enter the country until they were cleared by medical personnel. A group of spirited, creative people stuck together in a small van for long stretches of hard touring will do more then anything to put the unifying power of music to the test.
Yet no matter what happens behind the scenes, the minute Joe & Sekou get on stage or in the studio, all of the travails of daily life in the music industry fall away and magic erupts. While their personal histories and personalities are quite different, there is an undeniable music-umbilical connection that connects these two brothers from another mother. When Joe & Sekou make music together, there is a chemical reaction that is impossible to explain and even more difficult to restrain.
Joe & Sekou's sophomore album, Monistic Theory was recorded at the Cumbancha studios in Vermont during one of the coldest winters on record. While the weather outside was frightening, the studio was ablaze with Kouyate's scorching kora licks, Driscoll's lyrical acrobatics and the potent rhythmic underpinning of drummer Jimbo Breen and bassist John Railton. After years of presenting their high energy, broadly appealing show to stages across the world, the ensemble had settled into a deep groove. This dramatic evolution and solidification of their musical interaction is clearly evident on Monistic Theory, which features a selection of tight, catchy, and funky songs.
The album opens prophetically with the sound of trickling water and the voice of Oren Lyons, a Native American author, activist and Faithkeeper from upstate New York, near Joe Driscoll's hometown of Syracuse. "Water is life, water is the foundation of life. It is life. We are water," muses Lyons. From there it's off to the races of the instrumental opener "Tamala," as Sekou Kouyate's fingers fly effortlessly across the kora like water trickling over rocks in a mountain stream.
The album's second track, "Just Live" finds Joe Driscoll waxing poetic on his philosophy of life. "Now history's a mystery with the ages unsung / We've forgotten all of their myths, even our mother tongue / Some folks learn to compete, others love to create / Some could eat until content, and yet they leave a full plate … So keep your minds in the moment, the moment in the mind / Open the doors, raise the blinds, cause it's about time / Just live." Rarely has there been such a head-bobbing life lesson.
"Tokira" is Monistic Theory's sing along anthem, the song that will have lighters held high at future concerts. With "Tokira" Sekou reveals he is not just a kora virtuoso, he's also a talented songwriter with a gift for crafting a great melody. Driscoll's lyrics give the song added poignancy, as he reflects on what his 10-year old self would think about where life has taken him so far.
Other highlights on Monistic Theory include the jaw-dropping kora playing on "Barra" and the inspirational and timely call for unity on "Rising Tide," on which Driscoll sings over a children's chorus, "When we realize / There'll be nowhere to hide / They can't divide once they see we're all one tribe." Driscoll continues to provide words of wisdom on the dreamy jam "Badiya," reminding us "Whether you break or bend / Whether you fade or mend / The only true salvation is love in the end."
The album ends with a live, instrumental cover of the Stevie Wonder classic "Master Blaster," although you've surely never heard it played quite like this before. Recorded in front of packed house at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse, New York on a hot summer night, the track demonstrates the remarkable musicianship and unstoppable groove of this astonishing pairing.
There's been a lot of water under the bridge for Joe & Sekou after over five years of collaboration, and neither of them could have predicted that night they met in Marseille that they'd still be making music together this far downstream. "I met Sekou, and I said, 'Hey, man, let's work on this for a while.' It was one of those 'follow the river' things, and I went with it," Driscoll recalls. With Monistic Theory, Joe & Sekou reveal that their odyssey is far from over, and if their fans around the world have anything to say about it, it’s a voyage that will continue for years to come.
For more information, music samples, or to arrange interviews, contact:
Joe Adler at Cumbancha: email@example.com / 802-425-2118
Press materials, photos, biographies and more available at www.cumbancha.com/joeandsekou/press
Additional Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate Links:
ONLINE PRESS KIT: www.cumbancha.com/joeandsekou/press
“Lakou Mizik, formed after the devastating Haitian earthquakes of 2010, is a genial cross-generational coalition along the lines of the Buena Vista Social Club. Its songs, some of which are topical, draw on the rhythms and incantations of voodoo, the trumpeting of rara carnival music and hearty call-and-response vocal harmonies on their way to galloping, exultant dance grooves.”
- The New York Times
“We have nearly lost everything - but we’ll never lose our culture”
- Steeve Valcourt, Lakou Mizik
The fabric of a community is always tested and often damaged in the wake of conflict or disaster. When the earthquake of January 12, 2010 struck Haiti – the world watched in horror as apocalyptic images emerged from the nightmare. These images would dominate international news stories for months. In these darkest hours when the streets were still filled with the wreckage of what once was, above the sorrow and confusion rose the sounds of songs. Vodou chants, gospel ballads and folk songs filled the air in a brave attempt to deal with the overwhelming despair. Music, as it has through every tragedy and triumph in Haiti's convoluted history, soothed, inspired, healed and brought people together.
Formed in the wake of this unprecedented tragedy, Lakou Mizik is a diverse collection of musicians representing a cross section of generations, faiths and musical styles. On April 1, Lakou Mizik release their debut album on the Cumbancha Discovery label, calling out to the world, Wa di yo, nou la toujou - “You tell them, we’re still here”!
The nine members of Lakou Mizik range in age from late sixties to early twenties and come from across Haiti's musical, social, religious, and geographic spectrum. Each has a powerful story to tell: the young poet who survived a ferry disaster that claimed up to 1500 lives – floating in the ocean for 3 days on the back of a bloated cow carcass before being rescued; the church singer whose home was destroyed in the earthquake and whose Christian faith led her to initially resist singing vodou lyrics; the elder statesman of racine, or roots, music whose deep knowledge of vodou rhythms makes him a living encyclopedia of Haitian culture; the guitarist and singer seeking to emerge from the shadow of his famous father and define his own musical legacy. While each member of Lakou Mizik has a unique tale to tell, they stand united in a mission to honor the healing spirit of their collective culture and communicate a message of pride, strength and hope to their countrymen and world.
LEARN MORE ABOUT EACH MEMBER OF LAKOU MIZIK HERE:
The idea for the band was hatched on a hot November night in Port-au-Prince in the muggy basement studio of Steeve Valcourt, a guitarist and singer whose father is one of the country's iconic musicians. Still reeling from the earthquake, a cholera epidemic raging and a political crisis with enough tire burning ferocity to close the international airport, Valcourt, singer Jonas Attis and American producer Zach Niles agreed that Haiti's music and culture could serve as an antidote to the flood of negativity.
Niles, who ten years previously was part of the documentary film and management team that introduced Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars to the world, had traveled to Haiti to explore ways in which music could help play a role in recovery and empowering social change. Niles, Valcourt and Attis assembled an exceptional lineup, creating their own musical A-Team, a powerhouse collective of singers, rara horn players, drummers, guitarists and even an accordionist.
Over the next few years, the band honed their electrifying live show, presenting hours long concerts that blended the soulful spirit of a church revival, the social engagement of a political rally and the trance-inducing intoxication of a vodou ritual. Finally, after building a devoted local fan base, the band headed to the Artists Institute in Jacmel, home to a beautiful new recording studio and music school built by the We Are the World Foundation to help develop Haiti's music industry.
Two veteran music producers joined the group to help create their debut album: Chris Velan, a Montreal singer-songwriter and producer responsible for producing two albums for Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, and British producer Iestyn Polson, famed for his work with David Gray, David Bowie, Patti Smith and others.
The resulting album reflects the African, French, Caribbean and U.S. influences that collide in Haiti. The spirit-stirring vodou rhythms and call-and-response vocals are supported by the French café lilt of the accordion. Intricate bass lines and interlocking guitar riffs mesh mesmerizingly with the joyful polyrhythmic hocketing of rara horns. These powerful layers are topped by sing-along melodies with inspiring, socially conscious lyrics. The end result is a soulful stew of deeply danceable grooves that feels strangely familiar yet intensely new -- and 100% Haitian.
In Haitian Kreyol the word lakou carries multiple meanings. It can mean the backyard, a gathering place where people come to sing and dance, to debate or share a meal. It also means "home" or “where you are from," which in Haiti is a place filled by the ancestral spirits of all the others that were born there. Each branch of the vodou religion has its own holy place, called a lakou, where practitioners may come together in the shade of a sacred Mapou tree. With Wa Di Yo, Lakou Mizik invites listeners to join them in their lakou, to share with them the historical depth, expressive complexity and emotional range of the Haitian people. Emerging from one of the darkest periods in the history of a country with many dark periods, Lakou Mizik presents a feeling of joy, hope, solidarity and pride that they hope will serve as a beacon for a positive future in Haiti.
Lakou Mizik Tour Dates (More TBA)
|April 23||Washington, DC||Dance Place|
|April 29-May 1||Denver, CO||Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center|
|May 6||Brooklyn, NY||BRIC House Ballroom|
For more information, music samples, or to arrange interviews, contact:
Joe Adler at Cumbancha: firstname.lastname@example.org / 802-425-2118
Press materials, photos, biographies and more available at www.cumbancha.com/lakoumizik/press.
Additional Lakou Mizik Links:
ONLINE PRESS KIT: www.cumbancha.com/lakoumizik/press
Idan Raichel European Tour
We are happy to announce that Cumbancha artist Rocky Dawuni's latest album, Branches of the Same Tree, has just been nominated for a GRAMMY in the Best Reggae Album category. Dawuni, the only non-Jamaican artist in the running this year and the first Ghanaian to be nominated, is up against some of the heavyweights of modern reggae including Morgan Heritage, Luciano, Jah Cure, and Barrington Levy. It is also marks the first Cumbancha album to receive a GRAMMY nomination.
Reflecting on the prestigious nomination, Dawuni says that he feels, "truly honored and at the same time humbled. I’ve always focused on giving my best in my work and it’s a good feeling to know that it is being appreciated. I am grateful for the recognition. Branches of the Same Tree is about stressing the common roots that we all share in this human family. It inspires the listener to aspire to a place of hope. It’s about having faith in the power of compassion and oneness."
The final ballots to determine the GRAMMY winners are due by January 15th, 2016. If you are a voting member, we encourage you to include Rocky Dawuni on your ballot. The 58th Annual GRAMMY Awards will broadcast live on CBS on Monday, Feb. 15, 2016, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.
Thanks and congratulations to Rocky for this well-deserved recognition!
The Cumbancha team
Idan Raichel comes full circle and goes back to basics on his intimate new album, At the Edge of the Beginning. An introspective work, consisting of mostly gentle, personal songs with unassuming melodies and arrangements, the album reflects on the cycles of life, human connections and starting anew.