Hailu Mergia

(((folkYEAH!))) Presents two nights with

Hailu Mergia

Amo Amo

Mon · September 24, 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

$25 adv / $28 door

This event is all ages

Hailu Mergia
Hailu Mergia
Capping several successful years traveling the world performing to audiences big and small, Hailu Mergia will release his first new album in over 15 years, Lala Belu, on March 9.

Lala Belu has been a long time coming and builds on Mergia’s remarkable career resurgence over the past few years. Beginning in 2013 with the reissue of his dreamy Hailu Mergia and His Classical Instrument followed by the enormous success of his seminal Ethio-jazz masterpiece Tche Belew and continuing with last year’s widely acclaimed Wede Harer Guzo, Mergia has received considerable accolades from listeners and press globally, including The New York Times, Pitchfork and The Wire. His old recordings are cherished revelations for Ethiopian music fans; however, Mergia’s return to the stage has been just as inspiring and electrifying.

Mergia’s vintage recordings are known for an inherently mysterious and worn-in quality, while his new recordings echo his band’s 21st century live show with modern instrumental interpretations of crucial Ethiopian standards and Mergia’s own original compositions. Tony Buck (drums) and Mike Majkowski (bass), who have backed Mergia on tour throughout Europe and Australia, form the bass-drums trio on the recording. Having played venues from Radio City Music Hall and the Kennedy Center to jazz festivals, rock clubs and DIY spaces all over North America, Europe and Australia, Mergia and ATFA want to document this moment in his landmark career with a snapshot of his current sound. Mergia has a strong awareness of how much has changed for him since his last studio record, selfreleased in 2003: “It is a very historical album for me. And I am extremely excited. All of it feels like a big comeback. A different kind of audience, playing with a different kind of band and working with a different kind of record company. The album is very different from all the albums I did after I left Ethiopia.”

The trio recorded the basic tracks in London in 2016 at EMS4 and Mergia completed them, adding overdubs and overseeing mixing in D.C. at Cue Studios with engineer Javon Gant. The album was mastered by Jessica Thompson, who has painstakingly excavated audio and remastered all Mergia’s recent reissues.

Since he emigrated from Ethiopia and built a life in Washington, D.C. around 1981—where he remains working as an airport taxi driver when he is not on tour—Mergia’s career has followed a humble trajectory. He made a few recordings in America but they didn’t easily reach fans back home. He kept making music on his own and with friends but after the early 80’s his gigs in the U.S. mostly dried up. It wasn’t until he began working with Awesome Tapes From Africa and putting together bands with the help of booking agents and musicians in Europe and the U.S., that he was able to chart a new path. With a broad audience of young listeners in diverse venues and distant locales, at age 71, Mergia is enjoying his comeback and is not slowing down.
Amo Amo
Amo Amo
Why must mysticism be considered such a solitary practice — a spiritual union gained only through a single person’s transcendence? Why can’t mysticism happen en masse — some Big, Pop-Mysticism? Only with music has humankind been able to achieve this sort of communion. From the festival to the club to the drum circle, it’s the only place where a modern person can shed the human skin — all our worries, differences and debts give in to the beat, to the moment. It’s almost as if the music of Los Angeles' Amo Amo’s sole intent is to GET US THERE. Their instantly gratifying, euphoric compositions seem laser-focused on bringing a mess of humans into a space and getting them to move together like a single, pulsating organism.

The human fingerprint of funk swirls within Icy, Balearic synths that melt under South American rhythms while West African guitars wander the desert to find Burning Man in full effect. Then, there are the timeless vocal melodies shared here by vocalists Omar and Love. The writer whose simple, but unforgettable melodies come to mind is none other than Robert Nesta Marley. A bold statement, maybe, but you’ll see. Look no further than the instructive, immediate “Antidote” for proof of Amo Amo’s undeniable power to get the party started. “Move. Love. Dance More” goes the chorus call to action over the song’s pulsing space-funk. The inspired choice to lock the male and female vocals lends a non-binary quality, something more universal and inviting — the way the Grateful Dead (see also: the song’s Garcia- esque solo) left room enough for everyone.

Amo Amo formed in June 2017 when a group of dear friends - the aforementioned Omar and Love, along with Justin, Shane and Alex - got together for an impromptu session in Los Angeles with Jim James (My Morning Jacket). There had been a premonition that the five of them shared a sort of psychic bond that would lead to a revelation in sound. James proved the right ferryman to take them across the creative river to where the revelatory, mystic moment awaited. And now, they too invite us to the other side of The River.

The ferry is a party yacht. Into the mystic.
Venue Information:
The Chapel
777 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA, 94110
http://www.thechapelsf.com