An unusual session today with Hailu Mergia, a keyboard player and Ethiopian music star who now lives in the U.S. He came to our attention through Awesome Tapes from Africa, the website where Brian Shimkovitz posts cassette tapes of African music he discovers. That’s what led Shimkovitz to Hailu Mergia. He first became enchanted with a solo cassette Mergia recorded, then went out to find him, and now he has put out the much more well known 1977 Tche Belew that Mergia recorded with the top Ethiopian band The Walias. Mergia was in the forefront of musicians in Ethiopia who were melding blues, rock, jazz, funk, and afrobeat into a unique sound in the 70’s that has had a deep effect on all African music. Hailu emigrated to the U.S. in the 1980’s. Since this reissue, and that of the initial cassette of Mergia’s solo keyboard recordings, he has been in demand. That may impact his day job- driving a cab in Washington, DC. He will be backed today by the New York City based band Low Mentality.
Recent Release: Tche Belew
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Label: Awesome Tapes From Africa