Just returned from a short working visit to Addis Ababa and managed a couple of nights on the town. There are plenty of small bars and music venues to chose from. First night decided to track down Mimi Zenebe, one of the singers with Dub Colossus - her photo is on the cover of their EP " Return to Addis". She has a small bar/cultural house around the Duka Kasanchis area and the night we went, she was there with around 10 musicians and dancers. All the traditional instruments featured including the Masenqo - the one string bowed lute and the Krar - the six string lyre. Very rootsee and nothing electronic - far removed from the world of dub so hats off to Nick Page and others who had the vision to fuse the music so successfully. Mimi had just returned from Womad Australia so somehow manages to combine her jet setting life with the traditional home and business she has in Addis. She's a very natural girl and speaks English :she clearly loves performing as the place is open every night of the week and she's there whenever she's in town.
Second night I dragged out my Ethiopian customer to Harab Mesob, I place I had heard about. Another small bar and restaurant with a 4 singers who take it in turn to blast out popular songs accompanied by a guy on synthesiser and base guitarist.The synth. takes a bit getting used to but is used by a lot of Ethiopian artists and this one had a enormous range of sounds but the night really took off when someone well known, who was in the audience, was persuaded to come to the stage. I was told, but have forgotten her name -her nickname was something like KooKoo so I must check with my friends- but what a voice.
It was my last night so we had to carry on - to Club Alize. This was thursday night and Jazz. A much larger venue holding about 150 people with a 10 piece jazz band, Ethiopian style. Again some famous musicians ( at least locally) on stage and thoroughly recommended as a late night venue. Can't wait to get back. Can anyone recommend a traditional Ethiopian restaurant in London with live music?