For the third annual installment of the brilliantly successful African Soul Rebels tour, Music Beyond Mainstream (MBM) delivers yet another thrilling package of music featuring a triple bill of innovative modern African music - funky pan-African roots music for heads, hearts and feet, heading for the British Isles.
Like father, like son, Femi Kuti is the undisputed inheritor of the genius of Nigerian Afrobeat superstar Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. His version of afrobeat has been the most exciting new sound to emerge from Nigeria for years, borrowing the best elements from his father's powerfully polyrhythmic prototype of funk, jazz, and a sound that took James Brown's beat back to Africa. Femi adds to that winning formula with the freshness and exuberance of Lagos and its taste for the new R&B and dance music of America and Europe while keeping the same lyrical concerns for justice and peace in Nigeria and beyond.
Alongside Femi are two fresh talents from the African continent who are making waves with their new UK releases:
Guinean kora master and griot (hereditary caste of musicians), Ba Cissoko’s album, Electric Griot Land, has been praised far and wide and the live band have been tearing it up worldwide with their unique twin Kora frontline - backed by a sinuous and funky rhythm section - forming a power-house quartet of urban griots. Their aim is to do what Jimi Hendrix did for the blues with their own West African Mandinka tradition: take it forward without forgetting the music’s deep, traditional roots. The title of their album pays homage to their 6-string virtuoso hero and his timeless Electric Ladyland album.
Akli D is an Algerian-born Berber singer-songwriter on Because Music, the same record label as BBC Radio 3 Award Winners Amadou & Mariam. The one and only Manu Chao sprinkled fairy dust on the duo’s Dimanche à Bamako 'album and he has performed the same service on Alki D’s Ma Yela (“If There Was”). Akli’s rootsy Berber blues incorporates trance-like North African rhythms as well as traces of reggae and Senegalese mbalax. His gentle brand of protest sees him singing of his own experience as an immigrant in Paris, the plight of Chechen orphans, and in support of Algerian women in their struggle for self-determination. Akli's social commitment and unique new Algerian music mark him out as an important artist to watch.
It was once the case that artists such as these found it difficult to find an audience outside of the capital. Previous African Soul Rebels tours have led the way and new possibilities now exist for the musicians as well as giving audiences around the country a better idea of the embarrassment of musical riches emanating from Africa. African Soul Rebels 2007 proves yet again that Africa’s musical treasures are plentiful with fresh discoveries coming to the fore and making their mark throughout the world.
14 Leicester De Montfort Hall tel: 0116-233-3111
15 London Barbican Centre 020-7638-8891
16 Liverpool Philharmonic Hall 0151-709-3789
18 Edinburgh Usher Hall 0131-228-1155
19 Manchester Bridgewater Hall 0161-907-9000
20 Gateshead The Sage Gateshead 0191-443-4661
21 Northampton Royal & Derngate 01604-624811
22 Coventry Warwick Arts Centre 024-7652-4524
23 Poole Lighthouse 08700-668-701
24 Basingstoke The Anvil 01256-844244
26 Brighton Dome Concert Hall 01273-709-709
27 Bristol Colston Hall 0117-922-3686