This summer Seun Kuti, Egypt 80, Pee Wee Ellis, Cheikh Lo, Tony Allen, Khaled (King of Rai), Carlinhos Brown, Ethiopiques, Solomon Burke and Breakestra are all playing at the Barbican?!
5th July is the one though - An Honest John's Chop Up featuring Tony Allen, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Damon Albarn, Kokanko Sata Doumbia, Lobi Traore, Afel Bocoum, Candi Staton, Simone White and more.
BRAPS! Tickets are £12.50!!! The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble are actually touring the UK this summer, and if I've met you I have probably passed on my obsession with them so I'll see you there!
I'm also down for 'Still Black, Still Proud' (yes, at the Barbican?! 14th June, £10)
It's an African tribute to James Brown assembled by saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis (joined James Brown in 1965 & wrote Cold Sweat), and the line up includes: trombonist and long time Brown sideman Fred Wesley, Senegalese singer Cheikh Lo, Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, South African vocal sensation Simphiwe Dana and upcoming vocalist Wunmi. I was lucky enough to see James Brown live twice - once at the Roundhouse (one of his last televised performances - he did the cape), the other at the Essential Festival (bring it back!!!) where he held a backing singer above his head whilst he danced. I'm up for another James Brown fix.
I'm thinking about Solomon Burke & Breakestra too...sounds interesting but the mans' 72 so I'm just wondering if he's still got it. Al Green was mind blowing a couple of years ago so I dunno..to jog your memory here is his big big tune Cry To Me (the only tune I have from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack). I challenge you not to put it on repeat.
Now, I've actually seen a lot of great stuff at the Barbican, notably a multi-media version of Salman Rushdie's Midnights Children, the Malian musician Rokia Traore (again multi-media show), a beautiful & moving dance film by Royston Maldoom OBE called Rhythm Is It, and a fantastic exhibition in January - Seduced: Art and Sex from Antiquity to Now.
(I love Tracy Emin & artists with balls)
Thing is really it's all pretty middle class, safe & sanitary (even Seduced steered well clear of any art from the African diaspora) and you can't sanitize funk can you? They've actually got loads of great stuff coming up - Blues, Back to the Source (tracing the blues back to Africa), Mavis Staples, Wayne Shorter, Branford Marsalis Quartet and a celebration of 50 years of Bossa Nova....
Is it me or is the Barbican possibly a new home for amazing black music?