It’s that time of year again folks. We’ve already had a good helping of festivals, treating us to some big hitter acts but there’s nothing quite like Africa Oyé to draw together a diverse cross-section of Merseyside, with everyone leaving their pretensions and prejudices at home.
Having been around since 1992 – starting out as a series of city-centre shows – Africa Oyé is a well-established facet of many communities across Liverpool and as such, a sense of community translates over into the weekend festivities.
This year, as always, Africa Oyé has a few big hitters of its own and here, in no particular order, is ten acts we’re looking forward to seeing.
1. Omar Bursting onto the London club-circuit in 1985 with the killer electro-funk cut Mr Postman – released on his father’s Kongo Dance imprint – Omar Lye-Fook has remained at the forefront of UK groove music for the past thirty years, evolving his sound as the times changed. With seven albums under his belt including collaborations with Stevie Wonder, Rodney P and Angie Stone to name a few, Omar is one of the UK’s finest soul exports and has more recently moved back to dance music, working with the likes of UK garage stalwart Zed Bias and Blind Arcade‘s EVM128.
2. Frankie Paul
Paul Blake, better known as Frankie Paul, was a prolific toaster in Jamaica’s dance halls throughout the eighties. Known as the ‘Jamaican Stevie Wonder’ due to the fact he suffers from the same impairment as the blind soul legend, Paul was coincidentally encouraged to become a singer when Stevie visited his school. Working in almost every studio Kingston had to offer, Frankie Paul’s distinct flow became highly sought-after by Jamaican deejays and dancers alike as the dub sound evolved through the eighties and as you can see below, his coveted flow has translated into the now.
3. BKO Quintet
Comprised of Ibrahima Sarr, master of the djembe, the vocal force of nature, Ibrahima Sarr, Nfali Diakité and his distinct donsongoni, Abdulaye Kone with his mind-altering djelingoni and the formidable percussionist Aymeric Krol, the BKO Quintet follow in a line of impeccable hypnotic psychedelia streaming out of North Africa.
Africa Oyé brought seminal desert rockers, Tinariwen to Sefton Park in 2004 and the ethereal Tamikrest to The Kazimier last year but this year marks a Liverpool debut for their Malian counterparts BKO Quintet.
4. Diabel Cissokho
Part of a great line of Cissokho girots, Diabel cut his teeth as a musician in his family’s band, Bannaya. Having become locally renowned in his hometown of Dakar, Senegal, Diabel found himself touring with the country’s most formidable musician Baaba Maal, working behind the legend on kora.
Now well renowned across the UK, Diabel has played everywhere from Womad to Glastonbury and his 2010 album, Mansana Blues recorded with Ramon Goose – playing this year’s festival with Modou Toure – cemented his reputation as an incredibly versatile international musician.
5. Gordon Masiala & NKA Musica
Having brought his pop-infused rumba, salsa and Afro-Cuban sounds to Sefton Park in 2009, the idiosyncratic maestro Gordon Masiala will return with his heady NKA Musica outfit. Last year’s offering from the Democratic Republic of Congo – in the form of Jupiter & Okwess International – was a highlight, so expect good things from his fellow countryman.
I don’t think any of us can be sure of what exactly is going on in his Hiroshima video but that makes it all the more fascinating. And yes, there is a setting to mess with the video’s speed – well in YouTube.
Hailing from the French Réunion Island to the east of Madagascar, Lindigo have brought the maloya sounds of their small island to the world’s attention. Originally the music of Réunion’s slaves, maloya has developed alongside the sega genre more prominent in Mauritius and the Seychelles, to become the quintessential Réuinion sound.
Formed in 1999 by Oliver Araste, the band have released four albums over their time, taking maloya into deep and meditative territory as well as providing vibrant carnival vibes.
Adopting the ‘cultural cannibalism’ of Sao Paolo’s Tropicália movement, Derito breathed new life into Angolan popular music and has remained a prominent figure for almost four decades.
By infusing a range of world influences into his sound, the multi-instrument virtuoso put Angola’s traditional music in a new context, opening it up to the world. Surprisingly this will be a debut for the Angolan legend and don’t let the low-key video fool you, Derito’s kaleidoscopic fusion is certainly not to be missed.
The more regressive among us will immediately jump to The Lion King when they hear the name Sarabi, however if you’re tuned in to the east coast of Africa you’ll associate the name with the Eastlands Ghettos of Nairobi, Kenya.
Growing up in a place where you’re lucky to reach your 18th birthday, it is unsurprising to hear a rich political and social commentary running through Sarabi’s music. With a visceral live show that blends traditional Kenyan sensibilities with hip hop and rock, the eight-piece outfit have found themselves playing in almost every corner of the world.
9. Cumbia All Stars
Each member of the Peruvian super-group helped cement the foundations of cumbia in their home country. Now brought together as the Cumbia All Stars, the band’s eight members share their wealth of experience, stretching over the past forty years to create a quintessentially Peruvian sound.
This will be the first time a band from Peru have graced Africa Oyé’s stage so the Cumbia All Stars were clearly an obvious choice.
10. Modou Touré & Ramon Goose
As you can see below, the Senegalese multi-linguist, multi-instrumentalist Modou Touré has already brought his unique take on traditional Senegalese folk to Sefton Park.
This time however, he’ll be joined by Ramon Goose; offering a cultural exchange between Western and West African blues. Their ‘West African Blues Project’ has received critical acclaim and is as mesmeric and it is innovative.
On top of the live music, Africa Oyé‘s infamous Trenchtown area will feature some of the city’s finest selectors in the form of Bernie Connor, Hustle DJs, Rich Furness, Jess Gascoigne, No Fakin’ and One A Penny Sound, as well as renowned DJs from further afield including Banana Hill, Zacharia Soul and Truth & Lies Music, while the main stage will welcome back the sounds of DJ Eda and Esa Williams and Andy Kershaw.
And if that’s not enough to tempt you, the Oyé Village will feature stalls trading the best food, drink arts & crafts, clothes and accessories from Africa, plus one of the best selection of African and global CDs at News From Nowhere, while the Afrobeats tent will be back again for anyone looking for more of a hands-on experience or just a little boogie.
As always the Sefton Park festival will be entirely free all weekend and you can help keep it that way by supporting Africa Oyé by buying some of their top-notch merchandise online or grabbing a ticket to one of the afterparties.
24 Kitchen Street will be continuing the festivities late into the Saturday night with Banana Hill, Hot Plate, Fire House and Esa Williams while Magnet will play host to Jamie 3:26, Steve Cobby, Phil Cooper, Ste Hodge, Zacharia Soul, Hustle, Madnice, Mr Jonze and Beaten Tracks – with Envi hosting the Afrobeats afterparty with Aka and DJ Ayo. More info and merchandise here.