Zaire ’74 Live!

I wish I was of party-going age in 1974. That was the year of the famed Ali–Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle” fight in Kinshasa. In anticipation of the fight, a mega-concert was held in the city featuring musicians from the US and Africa, mostly from the Congo.

I saw snippets of the concert in two documentaries: When We Were Kings (about the fight) and Soul Power (about the American musicians, mostly). If you’re anything like me, you would have been eager to see extended clips of OK Jazz and others.

I’m hoping that that film is in the works, but in the meantime, the live recordings are now available in the recently released album, “Zaire ’74: The African Artists.” Among the musicians featured are OK Jazz and Tabu Ley’s Afrisa, featured previously on Cavacha Express!, as well as Congolese female singer Abeti. Visit the Archives of African American Music and Culture’s Black Grooves blog to learn more and listen to tracks!

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Congolese Dance in NYC this Thursday & Friday

Hello friends,

I’m still in love with Congolese music, na lapi! I just haven’t had time to focus on new episodes. In the meantime, if you’re in the New York City area, there will be Congolese dance lessons & a concert THIS WEEK, courtesy of the talented Nkumu Katalay.

Better believe I’m gonna get my soukous on! And maybe someone will finally take pity on me and teach me some old moves as seen below.

xoxo,

kimi

can-eh can-eh caneTON!!! à l’aisement!

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Friends,

It’s been a long time. As I continue to finalize my novel, I haven’t been able to focus on CAVACHA EXPRESS! On top of it, life has felt like a cataclysm during these post-election days in my country.

Rest assured that Congolese music is always in my heart, mind, and ears. And my hope as of now is to start producing monthly shows again in January.

For now, I’m ecstatic to share with you the video clip below. On Episode 2: Yaka Tobina/Let’s Dance, I mentioned wanting to see the 1960s Kiri Kiri dance in action, and today I got my wish!

This SO brightened my day and momentarily took away my post-election blues, and I hope it lifts your spirits too.

In the meantime, if you’ve enjoyed the radio show and blog, feel free to drop me a line and say hello or mbote! I love hearing from all of you out there around the globe who have a soft spot for this music.

xoxoxo,

kimi

Franco was Here

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Nostrand Ave., Flatbush

In the early 1980s, not long before he would leave this earth, Franco set foot in Flatbush, Brooklyn. And this weekend, I was there.

I learned this amazing fact in the fall in NYC, when I visited the Pan African Space Station, a pop-up exhibition sponsored by the South Africa-based publication, Chimurenga. If this name sounds familiar, it’s because I made a post about them last September, when I lamented about not being able to go to their pop-up Congolese music performance in Paris.

Little was I to know in September that I was in for a treat here in NYC. Upon walking into the exhibition, the display of vinyls immediately caught my attention. I recognized many: they appeared in miniature in my IPod when I played my favorite Congolese songs.

I soon met the owners of this wonderful display: Roger and Rudy Francis, brothers who were instrumental in introducing Americans to music from the Congo, Nigeria, Cameroon, and elsewhere by producing records and operating a radio station and a store called the African Record Centre.

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Brooklyn’s gateway to African music

As I drooled over the vinyl display, squealing at each new record I saw, Roger and Rudy told me something that titillated me even more: Franco visited them. In Brooklyn. During my lifetime. Walking distance from my apartment!!!

I cursed the inventors of the world for not yet building a time machine. When I got over that, I did the next best thing:

I WALKED WHERE FRANCO WALKED

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Congolese music for sale in Brooklyn

And this weekend at the African Record Centre, I bought my first my first Congolese vinyl: a 1980 recording of OK Jazz’s hits. I don’t own a record player, and I already have the MP3 version, but I just had to, for sentimentality’s sake. It’s one of my favorites, and if the digital thumbprint image can put a smile on my face, imagine what this one does.

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kimi’s first Congolese record – in the flesh, that is

If you love African music and are ever in the Brooklyn area, a visit to the African Record Centre is a must! For more info, see here.

NYC: dancing with Diblo & Papa Wemba tributes

One might think anything can be found in New York City. But some things—curiously, things I seem to rave about, like Cuban salsa and Congolese music—are too niche for NYC, it seems. So when I learned last-minute that soukous legend Diblo Dibala was in town this weekend, I rushed out to see him.

Most of my favorite Congolese musicians are no longer with us, so it was such a treat to see not only Diblo but N’Gouma Lokito of Soukous Stars fame, who joined Diblo in a rendition of one of my fav’s by Pepe Kalle (RIP), “Pon Moun Paka Bougé.”

Diblo performing Saturday night at Club Bonafide, NYC

Diblo performing Saturday night at Club Bonafide, NYC

The venue, Club Bonafide, unfortunately had little space for dancing (??!! a Congolese concert is not—I repeat, NOT—a sit-down event!!). But as I mentioned to my table-mates: there’s always the stage. And yours truly ended up there, along with several other overjoyed audience members.

The same venue is hosting a tribute concert to Papa Wemba tomorrow night, Tuesday, May 2. It’s too close to my bedtime, so I’ll be dancing with them in my dreams. BUT I’m so happy that there are Congolese dance classes every Saturday & Sunday this month in NYC, taught by Andoche Loubaki.

AND!! another Papa Wemba tribute concert is scheduled for later this month at Shrine, courtesy of the very talented Nkumu Katalay.

Side Note: Nalingi Lingala…and Other Random Things

It’s coming!! Look out for Episode 10 of CAVACHA EXPRESS! in January 2016, topic TBA.

In the meantime, a confession: I’ve been suffering from the blues. Being a language nerd (Lingala, anybody?) and a lover of other random things not shared by many makes for a lonely existence in this world, bandeko.

So I invite you out there, whoever you are, to learn some Lingala with me. If you already speak Lingala, I invite you to see how words you might take for granted have saved my spirit over the years.

Many of my songs from the Congo are about the blues (how apropos). It was easy for me to learn Lingala because so many of the same words are used to describe heartache and sadness.

I’ll start you off slow, with the bolero below by Negro Succès, “Bholen Mwana ya Mama Hélène.” Listen out for these words:

Bolingo=love
Linga/lingi=tenses of the verb Kolinga, “to love”
Boya=reject/refuse/dump
Motema=heart
Pasi=pain
Miso=eyes
Mawa=sad
Senga=beg
Banga=fear

More to come!

xoxoxo,
Kimi

Pesa Ngai Bolingo (Give Me Love)!!

kimiBandeko,

This hiatus is taking a bit longer than expected. But I see that my Cavacha Express! YouTube videos don’t have many views, so I hope you can give me some LOVE and LISTEN in the meantime!

And check out this lovely article on Congolese music recently published by Chimurenga, a publication for pan-African writing, art, and politics.

AND speaking of Chimurenga, starting tomorrow in Paris they will have a pop-up Pan African Space Station with performances by Congolese musicians, including my beloved Nyboma. This is part of the exhibition, “Beauté Congo – 1926-2015 – Congo Kitoko” at the Fondation Cartier. Ah, what I would give to be in Paris this week! Okay, so it appears we can stream in, but still!!!

xoxoxo,

Kimi

Greetings from Matongé, Bruxelles

I am on vacation in Belgium but will be back in a few weeks with some more Congolese music classics!

And of course, I had to visit the Matongé section of Brussels and soak up some Congolese flavor and food (moamba!) and Lingala…

xoxo,
Kimi

Cheri Samba welcoming us to MatongCheri Samba welcoming us to Matongé

Cheri Samba welcoming us to Matongé

Happy New Year! Bonne Année!

We’re a few hours away from 2015. That means 28 more days until Cavacha Express! airs!! Remember to sign up for a free LiveStream account here and follow “Jam Sessions” to listen.

Best wishes to everyone for the new year,

Kimi K.

p.s. Here’s a treat from the early 1980s from Pepe Kalle & Empire Bakuba to welcome in 2015:

Welcome! Yambi! Bienvenue!

Welcome to the blog for CAVACHA EXPRESS!, my online radio show that is coming soon! The show will feature Congolese music hits mostly from the ’70s and ’80s.

Not familiar with Congolese or Lingala music??

Do you love rhythm? Do you like discovering new sounds from around the globe? Do you like Latin, Caribbean, and African music, and especially rumba, salsa, soca, and calypso? If so, I welcome you to hop aboard CAVACHA EXPRESS! and enjoy yourself!

Disclaimer…you might develop a new addiction, like I did: bolingo ya miziki Congolais (a love of Congolese music)!

Check back soon for posts related to the show and Congolese music in general.

Later,
Kimi K.

p.s. In the meantime, a lovely preview from the great Nyboma & Kamale Dynamique: