Get ready to get sweaty, Santa Cruz. Two goliaths of world music, America’s premier Afro-beat band, Antibalas and all-female Afro-pop troupe, Zap Mama, have joined forces and are ready to set midtown alight with an electric performance of movement and music that will keep people dancing all night long.
Performing as one, the show on February 17 at The Rio Theatre, is part of a 29-date collaborative tour that combines the critically acclaimed musicality of the two groups into one show created specifically for the tour.
“Every time I do a tour, I want the show to have its own unique story arc which, even if it’s not explicitly expressed, still gives a certain flow or cohesiveness to the presentation,” says Zap Mama founder Marie Daulne.
Based in Europe, Zap Mama first created a sensation in the U.S. world music scene in 1991 with their self-titled release on David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label. Melding Afro-pop with American and European urban music using ethnic polyphonic vocal structures, Zap Mama’s music can transport the listener around the globe and back through the course of a song.
Antibalas (Spanish for “bulletproof”) is a Brooklyn-based big band inspired by jazz and the golden age of West African and Afro-Caribbean musical styles of the 1970s.
Daulne met Antibalas after seeing them in the Broadway hit, “Fela!” a show based on the music and lyrics of Fela Kuti, the late Nigerian mult-iinstrumentalist who pioneered the Afro-beat genre.
Daulne recently shed light on how the tour came to be ahead of their show at The Rio.
Did you approach Antibalas personally and with something specific (like this tour) in mind?
I projected that it would be fantastic to one-day tour with a band like that and “snap!” it comes to me. It was like a magic wand. Columbia Artists approached me with artistic director Chris Goldsmith (who came up with the idea for the double bill) and I said, “perfect!” But instead of just two separate acts, I said we artists with imagination could give more. We have created a journey and I want the audience to come explore the journey.
Zap Mama and Antibalas are already established acts, once you decided to embark on the national tour together, what was it like melding these two groups with their own energy and style into one cohesive performance?
The roots are the same. The spirit of the musicians is the same. It’s easy and that’s the essence of it.
Since the show will be an “open floor” dance hall set up at the converted Rio Theatre, my guess is attendees better be prepared to move their feet. Anything else Santa Cruz should prepare for?
They better be ready to sing loud and dance crazy and get sweaty! We’re going to create one fantastic momentum.
Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets available now at Streetlight Records and Tomboy in Santa Cruz, and online at pulseproductions.net.