Songhoy Blues

STG Presents:

Songhoy Blues

Down North

Thu, October 26, 2017

8:00 pm

The Crocodile

Seattle, WA

$25 Adv.

This event is all ages

Songhoy Blues
Songhoy Blues
Once among the most prominent of Mali’s many ethnic groups, the Songhoy now live largely on the margins of the West African nation. Nonetheless, the Songhoy people retain a fierce pride in their history, beliefs, and traditional music. Hailing from the heart of Gao, on the banks of the Niger River, Oumar Touré and Aliou Touré grew up obsessed with hip hop, R&B, and classic rock like The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. They found a kindred spirit and musical brother in guitarist Garba Touré (son of Oumar Touré, long term percussionist in Ali Farka Touré’s band). When growing unrest in the north of Mali forced the young men and their families to take refuge in the southern town of Bamako, they decided to turn crisis into opportunity by forming a band. They enlisted drummer Nathanial “Nat” Dembele and baptized their band Songhoy Blues in celebration of their displaced people and culture.

The ambitious young band were soon a fixture on the Bamako live music scene. Prompted by local studio owner, in September 2013 Songhoy Blues reached out to producer/manager Marc-Antoine Moreau (Amadou & Mariam, K’Naan), in town to scout new talent for the extraordinary Africa Express project. An audition followed and Songhoy Blues were invited to record a track with Nick Zinner, acclaimed producer and guitarist in NYC’s one and only Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The song, entitled “Soubour,” proved a highlight of 2013’s critically applauded “AFRICA EXPRESS PRESENTS…MAISON DES JEUNES.”

Songhoy Blues will herald Music In Exile with a series of much anticipated North American live dates – joining Alabama Shakes at NYC’s Beacon Theatre Thursday, March 12th as well as at Chicago’s The Chicago Theatre Saturday, March 14th and Milwaukee’s Riverside Theatre Sunday, March 15th. Additional North American tour dates will be announced soon.

In addition to their increasingly busy live schedule, Songhoy Blues also appear in an eagerly anticipated new film documenting Malian musicians’ fight with the extremist forces that have seen music banned in much of the country. They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music In Exile will have its world premiere at Austin’s South By Southwest Film Festival 2015.
Down North
Down North
Down North masterfully mixes underground rock and party-fueling soul, regularly lifting up audiences that have been craving new soul sounds from the city that gave the world Wheedle’s Groove and Jimi Hendrix.

Down North consists of lead vocalist/dancer Anthony “RenaGade” Briscoe, whose North Carolina breeding makes fans swoon and has no equal in the Pacific NW. Raised on Michael Jackson and Sam Cooke, Anthony combines a style and emotional impact reminiscent of Prince in his vocal expressions, proudly stealing the spotlight with his ballet-trained dancing. Bassist Brandon Storms displays versatility, blending slap/pop bass lines with deep synth, and pitch bent solos that parallel guitar leads. Drummer Conrad Real glues together a foundation through impeccable groove and powerful chops, his finesse, intensity, and strength evocative of Chris Coleman or John Blackwell. Psychedelic-jazz guitarist Nick Quiller dominates the fretboard with limitless imagination, shredding into another dimension, exploring the soundscape from high to low.
The recent additions of Drum Off! award-winning and crowd-amping player Conrad Real (drummer for Ayron Jones and The Way and Society’s Child as well) and the psychedelic-jazz trills of guitarist Nick Quiller make the band an unusual and extremely welcome addition to the regional music scene. Depending on whim (and the size of the stage!), Down North expands to a seven piece, integrating horns and other players to help deliver their dazzling grooves.

They’ll probably also transcend to higher level of acclaim very soon; early single “Danger” was played on MTV’s The Real World even before this killer line-up was settled on. Newer meatier cuts like “So What,” “Your World,” “Running,” and “Heartbreaker/Revolution” (which features the Black Rock psyche-outs of guest legendary axeman Jabrille) reveal the band moving in even edgier, sweatier musical realms.

“We want to be an opening beacon for this scene that’s happening now and not getting enough notice,” Anthony says. He loves to hang out all over Seattle, but the other night was blown away when he met two gals on Cap Hill “who had lived all their lives here and never heard of Marmalade.” He wants to open up the party to rock fans “who want to dance again!” and to those who have been craving fresh, warm, loving soul in the midst of a chilly indie scene. “The people that play in this band are excellent at what they do and we’re all here to play
music for people who want to move and connect.”

Down North is part of the zeitgeist not only of bands mining a deeper, better played history, but also one that taps into the 90s music scene when anything was possible. “I grew up pretty sheltered,” Brandon admits, growing up in a small Washington town near the Canadian border, “and had my life turned around by feasting on albums like ‘Check Your Head’ — the fusion of all those beautiful sounds going on
at that time.” Serious about his playing (like Anthony, they were raised in the church and really learned how to practice and perform music), he moved to Seattle, and enrolled in the Shoreline recording program. He joined some musicians which became the formative version Down North, and their first gig was opening for Alien Crime Syndicate before a crowd of 500 people. “I was playing in a soul band before I even listened to soul!” he says (and has truly grown into the role).

Like many bands these days, the two met on Craigslist — Anthony finally finding collaborators who wanted to make the good time, high quality sounds he loves to listen to and make, and Brandon eager to add him to Down North’s line up. “I want to have a body of work,” Brandon says about their recent playing in the studio, “We’re going to focus on short releases (EPs) of great songs; I want to release as much as I can but it has to be high quality material.”

–Chris Estey
Venue Information:
The Crocodile
2200 2nd Ave
Seattle, WA, 98121
http://www.thecrocodile.com/