TEDxBoston 2013

Debo Band

International Funk

How can a team of musicians with wildly different backgrounds create a new style of sound?

Ethiopian-American saxophonist and musicologist Danny Mekonnen is the founder and director of Debo Band, a collective of Americans and Ethiopians who compose and work to reinvent the popular music of Ethiopia. Their spirited live performances have captured audiences in North America and Africa and will grace the stages of TEDxBoston 2013 with an inspired performance.



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Debo Band is a 11-member group led by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen and fronted by charismatic vocalist Bruck Tesfaye. Since their inception in 2006, the band has won raves for their groundbreaking take on Ethiopian pop music (think Ethiopiques), which incorporates traditional scales and vocal styles, alongside American soul and funk rhythms, and instrumentation reminiscent of Eastern European brass bands. Debo have toured Ethiopia twice, appearing at both the Ethiopian Music Festival in Addis Ababa and Sauti za Busara in Zanzibar, the largest music festival in East Africa. In North America, they’ve shared stages with Gogol Bordello, Amadou & Mariam, Antibalas, The Family Stone, and Ethiopian great Tilahun Gessesse. Recent performances include the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Bumbershoot, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, The Kennedy Center, Montreal Jazz Festival, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, South by Southwest, and globalFEST 2012 at Webster Hall. Their self-titled debut for Sub Pop / Next Ambiance was produced by Thomas “Tommy T” Gobena of Gogol Bordello and features album art by critically-renowned painter Julie Mehretu. It was recorded at Machines with Magnets (Battles, Deer Tick) and mastered by Grammy nominated engineer Joe LaPorta at The Lodge.

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