It’s hard to believe that more than twenty years have passed since Antibalas’s humble beginning as a neighborhood dance / protest band in the block parties and underground parties in pre-gentrified Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Over the past two decades they have evolved into what The Guardian called “one of the world’s finest Afrobeat bands” while enjoying equal renown for their cross-genre collaborations with legends of popular music. With a heavy balance of experience and new blood, the group leaps into 2020 with their new Daptone Records full-length “Fu Chronicles.”
Founded in 1998 by saxophonist Martín Perna, early incarnations of the group included several members of The Dap-Kings including bassist / producer Gabriel Roth, guitarist Binky Griptite, keyboardist Victor Axelrod, conguero Fernando “Bugaloo Velez,” and trumpeter Anda Szilagyi. As the group expanded, it absorbed younger musicians from the Daptone family including bassist Nick Movshon (El Michels, Black Keys) and other musical natives and transplants from downtown Manhattan and North Brooklyn music scenes.
In 1999, Perna and Roth dropped in at an atelier / dojo belonging to Duke Amayo. They invited him to a neighborhood concert and then reached out to him later as an emergency substitute for a show. Amayo soon became a fixture in the group, first on percussion, then later on vocals, vibraphone, and keyboards and moving to center stage as the group’s frontman and creating the Afro-Spot, the band’s headquarters as well as the home of the first Daptone Records studio.
Over the next few years, the band performed several times a month throughout NYC at the Afro-Spot, at benefits, lofts, block parties, and at their Lower Manhattan weekly residency called “Africalia” with regular appearances by friends including Sharon Jones, Lee Fields, and The Sugarman Three. After their second release, “Talkatif” (2002, Ninja Tune), the group began touring heavily throughout North America and Europe including performances at Glastonbury, Montreux Jazz Festival, Coachella, Bonnaroo, and the Newport Jazz Festival. Over the years, expanded their travels to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South America, and most recently, Hong Kong.
In the late 2000s, after nearly ten years of road touring, Antibalas was chosen by choreographer Bill T Jones, to serve as the band for the Tony-award winning Broadway musical “Fela.” Around the same time, the band began to draw the attention of the Roots. The two groups joined with Public Enemy to perform a live version of the entire “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold us Back” at the 2009 Roots Picnic as well as the Red Bull Battle of the Bands, as well as numerous guest appearances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Antibalas has also served as the house band for several star-studded tribute shows at Carnegie Hall and the Apollo Theater paying tribute to the music of Aretha Franklin, David Byrne, Paul Simon, and Billie Holiday, backing dozens including Allen Toussaint, Cee Lo Green, Sharon Jones, Santigold, and Angelique Kidjo.
Over the years, different members have traded production and composition duties from album to album. On the new album—“Fu Chronicles”—Amayo leads us through a thrilling sonic journey of kung fu meets Afrobeat, weaving together the strands of Edo and Yoruba cultural memory from Nigeria with his training and study in Chinese martial arts.
Recorded in the Summer of 2018, over seventeen musicians and singers crammed into the storied Daptone House of Soul in Bushwick to record the massive body of work. With live versions and arrangements stretching up to thirty minutes, Perna, Amayo, and Roth worked tirelessly to preserve the hypnotic power of the long-form live arrangements into six concise and powerful album tracks.
“Fu Chronicles” will be the eighth studio album from Antibalas, who have been releasing music over four decades; Liberation Afro Beat Vol. 1 (1999), Talkatif (2002), Who Is This America? (2004), Security (2007), Government Magic (2011), Antibalas (2012), Where the Gods are In Peace (2017), Fu Chronicles (2020)
Afrosonics Sound System
Afrosonics – a fusion of guitars, drums, percussion, keyboards, electronic soundscapes, vocals, dance and chants. With African and American rhythms, the music incorporates eclectic sounds and the root of each member intermingles to create something both classic and unique.
Dayo Ayodele hails from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. Community building and music are his passion. As the group leader, he helps with the musical arrangements, production and is a multi-percussionist and songwriter. He honors his culture by singing and dancing to African inspired songs.
Todd Dunnigan, an Idaho native, is a multi-faceted keyboardist, vocalist and record producer, and has worked in nearly every area of the music business, and Co-leads Afrosonics. He started playing professionally at 15 in his hometown of Boise, Idaho. He played and toured with a variety of acts, including Smokey Robinson, The Moody Blues, Boz Skaggs, Gary US Bonds. Dunnigan has produced hundreds of albums for every type of artist from punk to polka lending a diverse palette to every creation.
Cathima Kodet- a Multi-percussionist started drumming and dancing very young. A native of Congo Brazzaville and former refugee from Gabon, he arrived in Boise in 2010 with a powerful energy and African cool in his music and dance.
Jacob Fredrickson’s career includes a range of Boise-based bands: Indie and punk, jazz and funk, he’s dedicated to adding a fullness and groove to every project. He’s performed with: Revolt Revolt, Obscured by the Sun, Ghost Tours, Dan Had It, Moulder, and other various gigs. Sonic wizardry and tasty grooves grace his work.
James Lancaster is a Guitarist/Singer originally from San Francisco, California. He has performed and recorded in numerous projects all over the US and owned Gemini Studios since 1985. He thrives on new projects and collaborations and specializes in writing both for himself and for others with over 100 Film, video and Television credits. As a member of Afrosonics, he lends vocal vibes and is a tour de force on strings instruments.
Misty Dawn Taylor an Idaho girl and life-long harmonizer, she discovered music theater and studied vocal performance at BSU. As a former Miss Idaho, took her platform The Power of Music, to the Miss America stage on national TV. She has been a local radio morning show personality on both The River and Kiss FM. She offers unique interpretations of lyrics to Afrosonics.
Ben Wieland is a Boise drummer bringing the magic and heat to powerful bands over the years. He’s toured the country multiple times in different bands, including a nine-day national tour opening for Built to Spill. His drumming can be heard on the Jumping Sharks records Dreams of the Dying, Light of the Living, Keep the Fountain, RevoltRevolt’s Wild Unraveling, and The Weary Times’ yet-to-be-released material. Drumming since 2006, he definitely rocks some funky beats in Afrosonics.
Taggart Lewis performs with the Moody Jews, Serenata Orchestra and Treasure Valley Concert Band. He holds BA of music in music education from Boise State University and taught elementary school music and now teaches clarinet full time in Idaho, travelling and building excitement for clarinet and live music, classical and pop. He brings these influences to build clarinet and saxophone into the Afro Indie flavor of Afrosonics.
AFROSONICS performs at the Treefort Music Fest, Northwest Folk Life, The Festival at Sandpoint, World Village, Alive After Five, Knitting Factory and more, highlighting the rich tapestry of world culture through the magic of music.