You can call this a comeback: The legendary Ethiopian keyboarder Hailu Mergia hadn’t performed in public since almost 20 years and blew everyone away on his first ever full scale European tour at the end of last year. Though having never met them before he hit it right away with his excellent Berlin-based All-Aussie rhythm section, Mike Majkowski on double bass and drummer extraordinaire Tony Buck of The Necks fame.
Hailu Mergia spends six days a week driving a cab to and from Dulles Airport in the US’ capitol Washington – he’s been driving a taxi for more than 10 years. Little of his customers are aware of the fact that the cabbie once was Ethiopia’s most popular keyboard player and leader of the legendary Walias Band (which, at times, also featured Mulatu Astatke). The Walias Band’s much sought-after LP ‘Tche Belew’ goes for thousands of dollars on Ebay and features the original version of the monstrous Muziqawi Silt – arguably the best known Ethiopian tune worldwide.
In the early 1980es, some Walias Band members used an US-tour to escape the dictatorial Mengistu-regime; Mergia has been living in the DC area ever since then. In 2013 Awesome Tapes From Africa re-issued a lesser known solo album, ‘Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument’: The 1985 recording is a fantastic effort featuring a host of old school synths, ghostly accordions and a lovely bit of cheap drum computers.
After the mindblowing show at Monarch in December we are stoked to have Hailu & Co. back!
Before and after the concert Berlin’s SpatzHabibi DJ team will play a special selection of Celestial Afro Rhythms, Asian Funk, Cumbia and Turkish Delights!