Anybody listening to modern Ethiopian music nowadays would most probably hear songs influenced by rhythms of Blues (R&B), soul or hip hop.
The first Ethio-Rock group, a 10 piece quartet called Jano Band, is setting its sights on introducing yet another element, fusing Ethiopian melodies with rock music beats. It plans to release its first album on August 1.
The band that is busy rehearsing at an old picturesque house owned by a former patriot, Ras Nadew Tessema, a warrior from the 1896 Adwa battle.They say they are aiming to achieve great heights in introducing this unfamiliar Ethio-rock band.
Michael Hailu “Micky”, the lead guitarist and “rock aficionado” for the band said he joined the band more than a year ago, and has performed with it once, the reception they received at first was one of bewildered but appreciative applause.
Michael has worked on other rock themed Ethiopian singles with artists including Abel Mulugeta, Zeritu Kebede and Michael Belyaneh. He also worked on the musical arrangement for eight of Teddy “Afro” Kassahun’s “Tikur Sewe” album singles.
Hallelujah Tekletsadik, one of the only two female band members said she started singing as a student in school carnival programs, with her first gig being at the age of seven tackling the smash hit “Black or White” song by Michael Jackson.
“Addis Gessese, the manager of Jano band, saw me perform a year ago at Jupiter International Hotel and asked me to join the band which I happily accepted,” said Hallelujah adding that she’s found that the inclusion of females in the band has added flavor and personality.
Kirubel Tesfaye, the band’s leader and keyboard player himself, is the most experienced of the members. He said it has been a new experience for him to work in a new musical genre as well as to deal with the behaviors and characters of the other band members.
Kirubel who has 10 plus years of musical experience has previously worked with bands like Zemen Band and Sweet Band and with legendary singers including the late Tilahun Gessese (Hon.Dr.), Mahmud Ahmed and Tewodros Taddese and with upcoming recordings with Tsedeniya Gebremarkos and Micheal Belayneh.
“The makeup of the band having four music instrument players and four singers will give more variety to the audience in terms of ideas while giving a much needed beak for the lead singers,” Kirubel told Capital.
He added the band is in for a long haul expecting challenges but will work on accommodating the society’s musical tastes and desires while introducing the “Ethio-Rock” music genre.
Jano band was established about a year and half ago is managed by Addis Gessese, a veteran music industry insider and brother of renowned ethio-reggae singer Zeleke Gessese, while the producer is Bill Laswell a renowned music composer and spouse of Ethiopian singer Ejegayehu Shibabaw ‘Gigi’.