The Kennedy Center

Debo Band



Biography

Since 2006, Massachusetts-based Debo Band has thrilled Boston-area audiences with their unique interpretations of classic Ethiopian popular music. Founded by Ethiopian-American musician Danny Mekonnen, the group introduces Ethiopian musical culture to new audiences far and wide. Their performances bring together the best of the last forty years of Ethiopian music, with a reverence for the vintage sounds of the 1970s and a commitment to discovering contemporary gems, as well as developing new compositions.

The musical inspiration behind Debo Band is an unlikely confluence of Ethiopian pentatonic scales and vocal styles, American soul and funk, and the instrumentation of Eastern European brass bands – accordion, violins, horns, and drums. Debo Band has found inspiration in the contemporary sounds of Ethiopian pop music while developing their own, original compositions. What makes Debo Band unique is the extent to which their art is informed by cross-cultural exchange and collaboration, whether tapping into Boston’s Ethiopian-American community or traveling to East Africa for month long jaunts filled with all night music-making, dancing, and revelry in the company of groups like Ethio Color of Ethiopia and Culture Musical Club of Zanzibar, it’s this conflation of influences that provides the tremendous musical diversity that only comes by traveling to the source.

Until recently, Debo Band has primarily existed as a live band, performing in venues across the Boston/New England region. The band paid their dues playing neighborhood bars, church basements, and loft parties, and has emerged as an internationally recognized touring band. Last year, Debo Band began taking steps towards actively documenting and releasing recordings. In fact, this tour is supported by the release of Debo Band’s first EP, Flamingoh (Pink Bird Dawn). The album features live recordings from the group’s trip to East Africa in Winter 2010, with performances from Sauti za Busara, Club Alize in Addis Ababa, and the Western Front in Cambridge. They also have a documentary, featuring their escapades with Fendika in Ethiopia and Zanzibar, and a full-length live album on the way.
Debo Band