Playlist: GRDN GOLD Volume 1: Sounds of Africa

Graham LeBron
07 24, 2015

Since I started DJing these outdoor day time events at Gundlach Bundschu Winery on Saturdays and Lost & Found on Sundays, I've gotten deeper and deeper into African music. A lot of my favorite stuff comes from Nigeria, especially William Onyeabor with his truly idiosyncratic synth grooves, there's nothing like it. If you haven't heard him yet, I highly recommend watching the short documentary on him, Fantastic Man. Damon Albarn from Blur and Dan Snaith from Caribou, among others, talk about what a great influence he has been on them and what a strange and mysterious man he is. Really really good stuff, I always have at least one of his records in my crate.

This mix was done live from vinyl, no edits, last Sunday, July 19th from the potting shed in the beer garden of Lost & Found. I think it turned out pretty well.

I've noticed that the longer the shifts and the mellower the afternoon, the more I start pulling out these extended, groovy jams by artists with really cool names like Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey, King Sunny Adé, and Admiral Dele Abiodun. It sets such a good mood and it allows me to relax a little and not be so concerned with getting a new song on every three minutes. Sometimes the whole side of a record will be one continuous piece of music with a variety of titles. It is great fun looking for these types of records too. Luckily, there are few labels, like Soundway, Analog Africa, and Luaka Bop that have released some amazing compilations that kind of got me got me started after I found a few of these kinds of records at swaps and online and started investigating. The more I researched, the more I came to understand the roots.  Although African music has always been an influence on Western music, from the blues to Paul Simon's Graceland, these styles came about when Africans heard the sounds of American soul and R&B, most notably James Brown, and formed rock bands, incorporating their own musical traditions to make something new and exciting. I'm hooked.

Highlife, Afro-beat, Juju, Yoruba music -- varying styles from all over the continent. Such a treasure trove of great, uplifting music from Ghana in West Africa to Kenya in the East. I'm already starting to be able to differentiate the styles a little from various regions, and I'm looking forward to expanding my sonic palate for years to come. I'm out spinning every weekend. Come and see me sometime. 

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