Antibalas

The musical collective known as Antibalas (Spanish for bullet-proof or anti-bullets) was conceived of in Mexico City and formed in Brooklyn New York. The early nucleus of the group was composed of the band's founder Martín Perna and later included several other members (Gabriel Roth, Michael Wagner, Del Stribling aka Binky Griptite, Victor Axelrod, Fernando Bugaloo Velez, Anda Szilagyi) from the Soul Providers / Dap Kings band. performing their first show in May 1998 at St. Nick's Pub in Harlem NY.

A few months into the group's existence, Perna and Roth, on a walk through their southside Williamsburg neighborhood, met Amayo, who at the time owned a boutique / kung fu studio / arts space where he sold his own fashion designs, held shows. They invited Amayo, who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and was fluent in the music of Fela, to see a show in the neighborhood. A few weeks later, they called again to ask him to fill in for a percussionist for a show at the Cooler (NYC) and he joined the band shortly thereafter. Within months he began composing and performing lyrics and assuming the role of the group's lead vocalist / frontman.

The nascent group spent its early months rehearsing and composing at Desco 41st street studios and later the first Daptone Studios at Amayo's Afro Spot. Eschewing all commercial venues for the first year, they performed exclusively in alternative spaces in lofts, community markets, parks, art spaces like Sara Roosevelt Park, Taller Latinoamericano, Brecht Forum, and the Angel Orensanz Center.

In August 1999, Greenwich Village record store owner Ayo Osinibi introduced them to the owner of the Tribeca club NoMoore, where they earned a weekly residence that ran for 18 months until the club was abruptly closed by the city. At No Moore, the group's nucleus and repertoire expanded, as they routinely played three 75-90 minute sets every Friday.

In 2001, following their debut record (reissued independently, then licensed to Ninja Tune) they began touring internationally, from Glastonbury, Montreux to Newport Jazz and other renowned rock, jazz and world music festivals.

Around 2003, following their third album "Who Is This America," the Dap Kings and Antibalas both became very busy, each group developed its separate full-time lineup although the groups would remain close, later reuniting with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Charles Bradley for the 2014 Daptone Super Soul Revue across summer festivals and theaters in Europe and culminating in a three night run at New York's Apollo Theater.

Black Market Brass

The incredible thing about recorded music is its ability to travel across time, space, and cultural boundaries. The story of Black Market Brass and their debut album, Cheat And Start A Fight, is a testament to that miraculous feat. Recorded in 2015 by the 12 piece instrumental band, it is heavily inspired by the sounds of West African popular and spiritual music from long ago.

Founded in Minneapolis during the spring of 2012, BMB came together when two guitar players discovered each other's almost identical craigslist ads aimed at starting a funk band influenced by among other things, the sounds of Fela Kuti, K Frimpong, and King Sunny Ade.

Over the next 3 years the band would relentlessly rehearse, fine tune, and develop their deeply powerful sound. What started as a funk band playing obscure covers eventually blossomed into a creative collective of musicians writing, arranging, and performing original music that builds on the sound of Nigerian Afrobeat by tastefully blending it with other styles. As time went on, the band cycled through players and material before arriving at what would become the permanent lineup and their signature sound.

In 2013 Secret Stash Records released BMB’s debut single to critical acclaim within the collector and DJ communities. The bible of all things funky, Wax Poetics, declared the record to be “Heavy Nigerian Madness.” Flea Market Funk raved “This is some authentic music right here people, recorded in the United States. Inspired by the likes of The Funkees, The Black President, and Moussa Doumbia as much as James Brown and The Meters, this Twin Cities dozen (and sometimes more) is shoveling out their musical path with their unique sounds.” The entire pressing quickly sold out as Secret Stash shipped copies around the globe while BMB slang copies from the stage after shows throughout the Midwest.

Two years later, after almost non-stop gigging and rehearsing, BMB finally tracked their debut album at Secret Stash’s new recording studio in the Loring Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. Cut live in one room over the course of 3 days, the recordings jump out of the speakers with an energy reminiscent of the band’s celebrated live shows. About the process, guitarist Hans Kruger says, “This music needs to be recorded live. Everytime we play there are these little connections that are being made between a couple of the musicians. The bass and drums might lock into something that the horn players don’t consciously know about. But while that’s happening, the horn players might find their way to some new interpretation of their parts. You would lose some of that if you went in and tracked everything one at a time. There needs to be room for collective improvisation.”

The album title "Cheat and Start a Fight,” and some of the songs on the album, are heavily influenced by Yoruba bátà music, as taught to conga player David Tullis by Chief Muraina Oyelami in Accra Nigeria during the summer of 2012.

Bátà drums are conical drums used for ritual Orisha worship among the Yoruba. They are thought of as talking drums in Yoruba culture, in that they can roughly imitate the contours of the Yoruba language through the use of various tones and accents. Since the drum can imitate speech, extended drum lines can be thought of as sentences. Groups of sentences can be thought of as a poem. This drum language draws on a vast repertoire of ancient proverbs called oriki. "Cheat and Start a Fight", is the first line for a Shango worship oriki poem titled “Yannije.” In addition to being the album’s namesake, rhythmic and melodic patterns found in specific oriki poems form the basis for two songs on this album, Moon King and Half A Cig.

Start to finish Cheat And Start A Fight is laden with endless polyrhythms driven by intricate percussion, intertwined guitar parts, and rock solid bass and drums. Atop that complex backdrop the 4 piece horn section, anchored by copious amounts of baritone sax, revels in their ability to effortlessly float back and forth between almost militaristic precision and ultra loose, sometimes free-jazz inspired playing. The result is a strange sort of booty shaking party music with a dark, heavy, post-apocalyptic-like undertone. Its Afrobeat with heavy doses of psychedelic textures and feelings. And while BMB is undoubtedly part of today’s Afrobeat revival, make no mistake about it, Cheat and Start a Fight stands on its own as a unique work that they hope will help progress the development of a genre of music they love, respect, and cherish.

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