Ken Maiuri’s Tuned In: Shokazoba celebrates new CD at Bishop’s Lounge, plus other music happenings this week in the Valley

Last modified: Thursday, July 23, 2015

“Afrobeat is the perfect vehicle to drop a heavy message in an uplifting way,” said Jason Moses, keyboardist/percussionist/vocalist for the Northampton ensemble Shokazoba.

Last month the Afrobeat-inspired band released its new album, “One Destiny,” and will celebrate with a show at Bishop’s Lounge in Northampton Saturday at 10 p.m.

Shokazoba began a decade ago as a tribute project to Fela Kuti, the legendary Nigerian composer, performer and political radical who coined the Afrobeat name for his blend of traditional Ghanaian and Nigerian music, funk, highlife, jazz, heavy rhythms, chants and outspoken lyrics.

“Shokazoba was founded by activists on activist principles, and that’s majorly what drew us to Fela’s music,” Moses said. “In our opinion, the socially conscious and politically charged lyrics are just as much a part of the Afrobeat concept as anything else.”

The band eventually shifted its focus to creating original compositions, but the influence of Fela has stayed strong over the years, both in Shokazoba’s trancey, tumbling grooves and its members’ interest in infusing those rhythms with political messages.

“Green Paper Slaves” calls out parasitic politicians and corporations; “Puppets” shares its disgust for the current system of government; and the album-opening “Ordinary People” stands poised between a bleak future and a hopeful one. Keyboards burble and buzz, funky guitars chop and percolate, the horn section blasts its own announcements in unison over a tireless groove.

Shokazoba will debut four new members at the gig — Kimaya Diggs on lead vocals, Riley Godleski on drums, Kenny Lynch on guitar and Tobey LaRoche on percussion. Also on hand will be special guests Peter Van Siclen on horns and Alchemystics member Garrick “Force” Perry, who appears on two songs on the new album.

“One Destiny” — engineered, mixed and mastered by Sonelab’s Mark Alan Miller, who co-produced the record with Moses — adds hip-hop and psychedelic elements to the sound of the band, which also includes bassist Matthew Clegg, trumpet player Jason Mosall and trombonist Jeremy Starpoli.

And The Kids, celebrated local indie trio and Signature Sounds recording artists, made another step toward world domination last month when its members recorded a coveted Tiny Desk Concert for NPR (coming to your computer soon). The band headlines a show with Parsonsfield and The Basement Cats at Gateway City Arts in Holyoke Friday at 8 p.m.

Goodnight Blue Moon (pop/folk septet from New Haven, Connecticut) teams up with Middle Mountain (the instrumental project of John Nolan, influenced by Max Richter, John Fahey, Damien Rice and others) for a night at the Montague Bookmill Saturday at 8 p.m.

Tica Douglas (Brooklyn singer-songwriter recently featured on Pitchfork, pictured), Mal Devisa (popular local singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist destined for bigger things) and Double King (Brooklyn indie band) play the Platinum Pony in Easthampton Monday at 8 p.m.

Local quartet The Gaslight Tinkers blends old-time/Celtic/traditional sounds with reggae/funk/Afropop. The group will headline a concert on the lawn at the Forbes Library in Northampton Wednesday at 6:45 p.m. Beach Honey opens.

Two gypsy jazz swing maestros — violinist Tim Kliphuis (pictured) and mandolinist Don Stiernberg — play together at the Watermelon Wednesdays series at the West Whately Chapel Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Acclaimed jazz pianist (and Shutesbury native) Miro Sprague will be flying to Switzerland in July to take part in the Montreux Jazz Festival Solo Piano Competition, but next week he’ll play a special solo piano show — proceeds from which will help him pay for his trip to Europe — at Bezanson Recital Hall at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Hartford-based noise-rock faves Magik Markers share a bill with Australian psych-post-punk trio Shovels (finishing up a month-long U.S. tour) and New Haven free-rock improvisational duo Rivener at the 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence Thursday at 9 p.m.


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