Ethiopiques screening w/ Melaku Belay & Fendika

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Red Bay Coffee

3098 East 10th Street

Oakland, CA 94601

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Pay What Makes You Smile here or purchase tickets at the door. We'll see you at Red Bay Coffee in Fruitvale.

James Brown is shouting and screaming from the loudspeakers. People have gathered in front of the record store in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, and they are completely transfixed. When the day is over, all the records have been sold. In the 1960s, a visionary imported records from all over the world and produced Ethiopian music, even though it was forbidden by the government. The groovy, beat-driven soul-jazz music made its way into the listeners' ears and hypnotised them. The film shows how people danced in the streets until the day when a coup threw the country into civil war, and musicians were forced to escape from Ethiopia along with their music. One of these records fell into the hands of a music enthusiast who gave the genre a bustling afterlife with the critically acclaimed 32-record album series 'Ethiopiques'.

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FENDIKA & Melaku Belay

Fendika, a troupe of the most accomplished azmari musicians and dancers from Addis Ababa, draws from the well of Ethiopia’s bardic tradition while adding creative movements and sounds that revitalize their ancient artistic forms. Fendika features seven performers – two dancers, two singers, and instruments including kebero drums, masenko (a one-stringed bowed fiddle), and krar (a five- or six-stringed lyre). Founded in 2009 by Melaku Belay, Ethiopia’s leading dancer and a respected cultural ambassador, the ensemble is based at Melaku’s renowned music club Fendika Azmari Bet in the Kazanchis neighborhood of Addis Ababa. In Ethiopian culture, an azmari bet is a traditional music house where people are entertained, informed, and sometimes playfully insulted by the azmari who commentate on current events commentators while they dance, sing, and play.

Melaku is a virtuoso interpreter of eskista, a traditional Ethiopian trance dance of athletic shoulder movements that presage hip hop movements of breaking and popping. Melaku grew up as a street kid, learning many regional dances of Ethiopia through participation in religious festivals such as Timqat, folk ceremonies, and everyday activities in Addis Ababa and the countryside where music and dance are a vital part of cultural and spiritual expression. Melaku has traveled throughout Ethiopia to learn the dance traditions of the country’s 80 tribal groups. The musicians and dancers of Fendika present a cultural journey starting in the highlands of Tigray, Wollo, Gonder, and Gojam, also including dances from the Somali and Afar regions and southern Ethiopian dance forms from the Gurage, Wolaita, and Konso traditions.

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Red Bay Coffee

3098 East 10th Street

Oakland, CA 94601

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