Last night we played a really fun show at the Bowery Poetry Club. We shared the stage, for the second time, with up-and-coming afro-beat band EMEFE. The first time we played with them, I wasn’t able to catch their set. But this time I was there the whole time.
I often question the “recent” Afro-Beat revival. I can’t help but link it to the revivalist fads of Ska and Big-band swing in the 90s — nothing more than a passing fad, rekindling a nostalgic vibe from a long-gone era. One of my band-mates walked in the room, turned to me, saying, “Whoah! I feel like I’m back at No Moore, circa 1999!” And then it hit me. This “fad” has been a constant presence among young, serious New York City musicians for well over a decade now.
EMEFE is one of the newest groups to bust on the scene. Led by a young drummer, Miles Arntzen, the group had some really nice arrangements and tunes, and great energy and joy emanated from the stage. It definitely brought me back to the days at No Moore and Wetlands, when it felt like such a new and strange thing to witness in Giuliani-era New York City. But the scene has come a long way since then. The younger generation, having been exposed to so many of these groups over the last decade, is much more mature and sophisticated. Afro-Beat does not mean replicating Fela’s music to a tee. Instead they were able to bring their own flavor, sound, and ideas to a music that is now a genre less tied to its founder, and more to a sound that welcomes ingenuity and personality. And they were having FUN doing it, too.
check them out, http://emefe.bandcamp.com/