Showing posts with label Fela On Tour. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fela On Tour. Show all posts

Monday, February 17, 2014

NEW RELEASES: MiWi La Lupa's Solo Debut New Way Home Out Now (Red Baraat) #FreeStreaming


MiWi La Lupa
"Everybody's Fuckin' With Me" on New Way Home (Out now on Team Love Records)

Here at ChiIL Live Shows we've enjoyed MiWi's talent for years, and we're so stoked about his new solo work. Check it out!

Click here for our past original MiWi La Lupa photo features on the Broadway Fela! tour and Red Baraat including our video interview with MiWi La Lupa!

Catch the whole album FREE streaming here.

Buffalo, New York. Hockey, the cold, the canal, the train yard, Rick James and Ani DiFranco, cheap dilapidated Victorians, potholes brimming with ice and slush . . .

Buffalo is a place where people grow up, and a place people sadly—but understandably—end up leaving in pursuit of their dreams. And it’s Buffalo where MiWi La Lupa started his musical adventure, as so many public school kids in America do, by picking a dented, smelly old instrument off the shelf in band class and giving it a go. MiWi picked the trombone. It fit—sort of. He started a band, Thought. Then he packed his bags.

MiWi made his way east, first to Rochester and the Eastman School of Music, trading in his trombone for a bass trumpet, before, like many musicians, continuing on down the Hudson and arriving in NYC in the summer of 2005. 

Once in the city things began to take off for MiWi, and he soon found himself performing with music greats like Les McCann, David Byrne, Bill Frisell, Femi Kuti, Charlie Hunter, and El-P. MiWi would also become an original member of the band Red Baraat, with whom he would go on to tour the world.

Be it the diversity of MiWi’s palate, his growth as a musician and experiences on the road, or his roots coming from a blue-collar corner of the country often passed over and left for dead by the chronologists of the musical cannon, MiWi’s endeavors were aligning, naturally, with the art of songwriting. Expression—of loss, desire, grief, forgiveness—and a growing need to examine, document, and articulate his life began to take over, and soon the seeds of MiWi’s first solo album were firmly planted.

New Way Home, MiWi’s debut album on Team Love, is the result of life taking an unexpected turn. With the help of Monica Frisell, the songs began to take shape in early 2013. As things developed, friends such as Joanna Warren, Conor Elmes, Curtis Fowlkes, Rob Jost, Mara Kaye, Natalie John, Timothy Allen, Bill Frisell, and Conor Oberst, all enthused at the sound, eagerly jumped in to lend a hand. New Way Home is a short, immediate, and catchy album, but its real magic lies in its ability to invoke a wide range of sonic diversity while not losing sight of its singular vision. 

A track like “Ashes To The Wind” invokes legendary bluesman Howlin’ Wolf, while “Here I Am” positions itself neatly between singer-songwriters like Ron Sexsmith and Stuart Murdoch. The album’s songs range from playfully vengeful (“Everybody’s Fuckin’ With Me”) to sorrowfully serious (“New Moon”). MiWi’s voice is frank, his phrasing crisp, his lyrics easy to grasp yet full of twists. The songs document a season in a life, offering empathy to the listener while asking for the same in return.

New Way Home was released on Team Love Records January 21, 2014.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fela! Returns to Chicago TONIGHT 2/19 at Arie Crown 5 Nights Only #originallivephotos

ChiIL Live Shows Photos--The Fela Band and Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra with cast members from the Broadway touring production of Fela! play Lincoln Hall in Chicago, April 2012.

In Chicago Feb 19-23: 
Afrobeat Maverick Comes to Life in Striking Multimedia Performance FELA!

We caught FELA! last year through Broadway in Chicago and highly recommend it.   We also had the great pleasure of catching the band from the show in a concert at Lincoln Hall during the run.    Our original LIVE show shots from LH are above.   

02/20/2013 - 02/23/2013

Wed. Feb. 20 at 7:30 pm Thur. Feb. 21 at 7:30 pm Fri. Feb. 22 at 8:00 pm Sat. Feb 23 at 2:00 & 8:00 pm

FELA! Five Performances only! Tickets range $85.00 to $20.00 Order Tickets Now! 

If a song by the maverick founder of Afrobeat, Nigeria’s firebrand and musical revolutionary Fela Kuti, came to life, it would look like Fela!, on tour in the U.S. January through May 2013. A multifaceted performance rich with grooves, history, and visual intensity, Fela! chronicles the sonic evolution and politically defiant journey of one of Africa’s towering figures, from his musical beginnings to his unflinching opposition to government pressure and oppression. 

To capture Kuti’s unorthodox, action-packed life, Fela!’s creators shied away from traditional clichés and approaches, creating a painting; an ode to determination and truth to power by concentrating on one short, highly-charged period during the late seventies, This vibrant snapshot—powered by the unflagging energy of an on-stage band (with members of Antibalas) and performers like Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child) and –is the perfect vehicle to present Fela’s commitment and courage, and to show how art can become a stunning expression of human dignity.

                    Production Photos Credit:    Rameen Gasery

Return of the Warrior: Fela! Channels Afrobeat Founder’s Uncompromising Complexity into a Music-Powered Show

Every Tuesday, Fela Kuti would go to his Lagos club and main base of musical operations, The Shrine. There, before a core group of supporters and fans, the musical revolutionary and gifted composer would take questions and answer them, often using his radical responses and the crowd’s ideas as the seed of his next song.
This passionate immediacy and heated dialogue—all seamlessly supported by Fela’s unmistakable sound, soulfully executed—pervades Fela!, on tour across the U.S. in the first half of 2013. Cities include DC, Chicago, LA, Miami, Seattle, Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta, Tucson, Cleveland, Charlotte NC, Tempe AZ, and Schenectady.

Fela! is a vibrant embodiment of Kuti’s music, using sound and lyrics as a way to capture his wild, complex, no-compromise life. The show echoes the many sonic layers, visual elements, and personal dimensions of Fela’s work. Guided by the music and bursting with dynamic, visually engaging action, the show takes Afrobeat classics like “Zombie” and “Water No Get Enemy” and brings them to colorful, intense life.
“I think of Fela as a returning warrior, somebody who has made his mark in another time, and now returned to our era, to us,” reflects director Bill T. Jones. “We are bringing him back to fresh eyes, as well as to eyes that are hungry to see him again, and hope that people will get truly excited about the music he made.”

The show’s excitement flows from years of painstaking work and dedication to interpreting Fela’s ambitious art and complicated character. Instead of flashy biography, Fela! is a snapshot of a period in the 1970s when the musician faced some of his most trying hours. Spearheaded by a fan-turned-producer, Stephen Hendel, Fela! brought together diverse crew drawn from America’s burgeoning Afrobeat scene (members of Antibalas), from the American stage’s most respected names (Jones, for one), and from pop stardom (Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child so loved the show, she joined the cast).
"He was James Brown, Bob Marley, and Malcolm X in one person. It single-handedly changed my life," explains ?uestlove, Fela! associate producer. “The trials and tribulations he went through socially, politically, creatively: It’s the story of making something into nothing. It’s a story that resonates with American hip hop.”
Born into an elite family of Nigerian intellectuals and professionals, Fela Kuti went from mild-mannered music student to radical firebrand, melding edgy politics with deep grooves inspired by the likes of James Brown. Unafraid to butt heads with the government or face beatings, imprisonment, and persecutions, Fela relentlessly and courageously criticized the hypocrisy, corruption, and spiritual bankruptcy he saw around him in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, calling for black power and African pride, political accountability, and justice for the downtrodden. All while creating a musical sound so unique, it became a genre unto itself: Afrobeat.

Citing composers like George Friedrich Handel as well as funk idols and African jazz greats as his biggest inspirations, Fela was an exacting composer and performer. “People don’t always remember that he spent five years at music school in London,” recounts Fela’s long-time friend and manager Rikki Stein. “He had a real grounding in classical music,, composition, and harmony, and he was so totally involved in every part of music making. When we had a sound check before a show, he’d tune every instrument himself. It was a four-hour job. He really cared about what was happening.”

The creators and performers of Fela! strive to follow Fela’s challenging, demanding lead. The bandleader and composer never settled for anything less than total musical precision and on-stage perfection, from dancers to horn section. Fela cared because music, according to Fela, was the weapon. It is also the foundation of Fela!. By breaking down and transcribing dozens of songs from Fela’s 50-album repertoire, Fela! Musical Director and Antibalas trombonist Aaron Johnson found a musical thread that united Fela’s diverse tracks.
“This is clave music,” explains Johnson, noting the persistent pulse that runs throughout Fela’s songs. “The music is structured, with all its layers and complex rhythmic language, on the clave line that runs throughout. The patterns may vary from song to song, but that basis lets you jump into another song relatively easily.”
Eschewing more traditional musical theater sounds, the team kept Fela’s red-hot, urgent vocal delivery and striking female call-and-reponse choruses, while supporting the emerging narrative of Fela’s inner life by finding a broad range of emotional expression and new instrumentation for Fela’s distinctive melodies. (A haunting vocal line sung by Fela’s mother originated in a sax line from one of his songs.) “To support the story, we really played with instrumentation. It took a lot of trial and error to get it right. We had to drop the drums here, the guitars there, to vary it and create some peaks and valleys.”

   Production Photo Credit:    Bernard Matussiere

Fela’s life was rife with peaks, valleys, and paradoxes, moments captured dynamically in Fela!. Adored by fans, Fela was persecuted by the authorities. Authoritarian to his band, he called for liberty and freedom of thought. Known for his sexual forthrightness and dozens of wives, his lifestyle seemingly overshadowed his intellectual prowess and true commitment to improving people’s lives. “Fela always said his real inspiration for music came from sex,” Stein recalls. “But he read a lot. He had a huge library and really knew his stuff. Those ideas would then develop into a song.”
A million mourners attended his funeral in Lagos when he passed in the late 1997, However, though widely respected worldwide by the musical elite and though his records sold in the millions throughout Africa, Fela’s work remained relatively obscure, never achieving the impact that should have put him in the global ranks of icons like Bob Marley or Malcolm X. Fela!,by keeping to its subject’s high standards and musical grit, has helped ease the Afrobeat master’s return to his rightful place as internationally respected musical trailblazer and composer.

Johnson and the Fela! crew's painstaking work has paid off, and their creative input in the show maintained its subject’s exacting standards. Fela! has been seen by millions on three continents, attaining public accolades and critical acclaim from both theater circles and die-hard Afrobeat fans. 

“Afrobeat is really the only genre you can trace back to one artist,” Johnson notes. “The most important thing for me in this whole process was it had to feel real, legit. I want the Afrobeat audience to say, ‘Yes, this holds water.’ To know that the music worked. That’s why we went to the source.”

Production Photo Credit:    Bernard Matussiere

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Fela! Review & Fela! On Tour-Afrobeat Orchestra Tonight At Lincoln Hall

Saturday, April 07 2012 10:00 PM
21+ $16.00

($18.00 Door)

ChiIL Live Shows was there for opening night of Fela! in Chicago at Oriental Theatre and we were blown away by the passion, the politics and the power of this Broadway Musical!  Tonight, you can hear the music Fela! is famous for, with members of the cast, The Fela Band and Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra.    We'll be there to shoot the Lincoln Hall show tonight.   Lincoln Hall is 21+.   For the musical at Oriental Theatre, parents are strongly cautioned due to mature themes, political violence, drug use, and language.   The historical and political story of Fela! makes this musical a worthy "must see" for older teens and adults.

The sheer spectacle of the colorful costumes, choreography, phenomenal acting, and superior set design all contribute to make a lasting impression.  The wrenching drama of this oppression story is still timely today.  Fela's history is a story that should not be forgotten, told with such passion and joyful dance that patrons will hardly realize they're learning.   We particularly loved the execution of the dream scene, where Fela! visits his dead mother to seek her wisdom.

Fela! the Musical is playing at The Oriental Theatre through April 15th.   Highly recommended, whether you're a Fela fan or a newbie to the Afrobeat scene! 

FELA!, the joyous dance, theater, music spectacle, has thrilled
audiences in three continents. The Tony Award® winner, directed and
choreographed by Bill T. Jones explores the extravagant world of
Afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti.
FELA! comes to Chicago's Oriental Theater
following its sold-out run at London's prestigious National Theatre
where The Guardian's Michael Billington exclaimed, "It breaks down
conventional barriers between stage and auditorium and joins passion and
politics. The dancing is ecstatic, the music lifts the spirits, and
the stage is alive with movement." After Ben Brantley of the New York
Times raved, "There should be dancing in the streets!" Bill T. Jones
earned a Tony Award® for Best Choreographer. He was also given the
Astaire Award and received a 2010 Kennedy Center Honor along with Oprah

Ticket prices are $25 to $90.

Groups of 15 or more, now on sale!

Call 312-977-1710 or click here for tickets.

FELA!, the most critically acclaimed musical of the season,
received three 2010 Tony Awards®: Best Choreography, Best Costume Design
for a Musical and Best Sound Design of a Musical!
His story inspired a
nation. His music inspires the world. FELA! tells the true story of the
legendary Nigerian musician Fela Kuti, whose soulful Afrobeat rhythms
ignited a generation. Motivated by his mother, a civil rights champion,
he defied a corrupt and oppressive military government and devoted his
life and music to the struggle for freedom and human dignity. FELA! is a
triumphant tale of courage, passion and love, featuring Fela Kuti’s
captivating music and the visionary direction and choreography of Tony
Award® winner Bill T. Jones. 

Fela! first came to life in 2000 when New Yorker, Stephen Hendel,
stumbled across a CD of the Nigerian firebrand, iconoclast,
rabble-rouser and composer of genius, Fela Anikulapo Kuti. He was so
impressed with the music and with Fela’s keen sense of social justice
that he determined to create a theatre piece expressing the timeless and
universal message contained in how Fela committed his gift as a voice
for the disenfranchised.

In 2004 Steve Hendel joined forces with Tony Award-winning
choreographer, Bill T Jones, who he invited to direct the play. Bill
then brought in writer Jim Lewis and together the three set about
mounting a series of workshops, involving musicians, actors, dancers and
technicians. It soon became clear that attempting to compress the
entirety of Fela’s turbulent and event-filled life into a stage play was
impossible. They elected to create a painting; an ode to determination
and truth to power by concentrating on one short, highly-charged period
during the late seventies, using it as a vehicle through which to
present a prime example of commitment and courage and art used as an
expression of human dignity.

Fela had used his extraordinary big-band music as a medium in which
he created biting, satirical diatribes against the excesses of
successive military regimes in his native Nigeria. Any form of
injustice, oppression, mismanagement, corruption was fearlessly and
ferociously attacked, using eloquent harangues that specifically named
the perpetrators.
He had paid a steep price for his bravery in the face of powerful and
implacable enemies, with 200 arrests and countless beatings that left
scars all over his body. But even these beatings didn’t stop him. “Ah
well, they didn’t kill me”, he would proclaim as he wrote yet another
acerbic lyric and gave inflammatory quotes to the press.

Fela died in August 1997. AIDS, they said, but as far as those close
to him were concerned, he died of one beating too many. He was a giant
of a man, but a man nevertheless. The system can only take so much. One
million people attended his funeral.

His legacy was a testament of incredible courage, together with
almost 50 albums of music that are now available globally through
Knitting Factory Records. His message of transparency, honest government
and justice for all is still as relevant today as when it was when
first released 4 decades ago — not just in Nigeria but globally.
Inspired by Fela’s courage and incredible musical mastery, it
nevertheless took two years of development for the creative and
technical team to reach the stage where they were ready to begin
mounting the piece Off-Broadway at a New York theatre complex, 37 Arts.

They spent three months at 37 Arts perfecting the production before
they were ready to open “Fela! The Musical”. The show was an immediate
and unmitigated critical and public success. Celebrities flocked to see
the show; Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Christine Amanpour, Charlize
Theron, and countless others. The decision was taken to go to Broadway.

With the blessings of the Kuti family, in 2009 the show opened at the
Eugene O’Neill Theatre and with Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter and Will &
Jada Pinkett-Smith coming on board as Producers, over the next 15
months, played to half a million people. Celebrities kept coming;
Madonna, Denzel Washington, Ben Stiller, Mick Jagger, Sting, Harry
Belafonte, Spike Lee (8 times!) Kofi Annan and Michelle Obama, to name
but a few. 

The show received 11 Tony nominations and three Tony Awards
for Best Choreography, Best Costumes and Best Sound. In 2010, whilst
still on Broadway, a second company was formed to present a sold-out
season of performances at London’s prestigious Royal National Theatre.

Since its 15 month Tony Award-winning run on Broadway an amalgam
company was created from members of the American and European casts.

Audiences in their many hundreds of thousands on both sides of the
Atlantic, including a triumphal series of performances in Fela’s beloved
Lagos, have risen to their feet in admiration of the play’s ethos and
execution. We would be surprised if you would not do the same.

The show is currently on tour in the United States. Visit to see the tour schedule. Don’t miss it!

Notable Quotes

“THE HOT (AND SERIOUSLY COOL) ENERGY that comes from the musical
gospel preached by the title character of FELA! Feels as if it could
stretch easily to the borders of Manhattan and then across a river or
two. There should be dancing in the streets!”
“FELA! Is as rowdy as it is rousing. (It) is one of the most ORIGINAL and EXCITING shows to come around in a long while.”
“A great humane and transcendental fable come to life, with
everything “fable” implies; MYTHIC, FABULOUS and a supreme lesson in
living, here supplied magisterially by choreographer BILL T. JONES and
his star, SAHR NGAUJAH.”
“FIVE STARS (out of five) FELA! Is more than a musical…an ECSTATIC PHENOMENON.”
“BILL T. JONES wildly loose-limbed journey into the throbbing heart of Afrobeat BREAKS BOLD NEW GROUND IN MUSICAL THEATRE.”
“There’s enough energy in the first act of FELA! to short circuit
Con Ed. It spills over from the stage and into the orchestra seats.
BOUNDLESS AND JOYOUS: This is as close as Broadway gets to fully
immersive theatre.”

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