Show #142: Dexter Story's Wondem: A Musical Love Letter to East Africa

Tom & Dexter. Photo by Mario Diaz
Tom & Dexter. Photo by Mario Diaz

blog-spacerI’ve known Dexter Story for a long time. He booked some great acts into the Temple Bar back in the day before it closed. I didn’t know about his artistic side, however, until I heard him playing drums with Todd Simon’s band Ethio-Cali at Grand Performances at California Plaza (great night), then conducting the band at the Wattstax show, also at Grand Performances. Both were great ways to spend a summer evening.

81Q0OKssAnL._SX522_Now comes Wondem (pronounced “win-dam”), his new album. The word means “brother” in Amharic, the Ethiopian language. It’s a tribute and celebration of East African music: Ethiopian, Eritrean, Sudanese & Somalian. It’s a heroic collaborative effort produced by Dexter and Carlos Niño, and features Mark de Clive-Lowe, Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, as well as artists from various East African countries. It is a labor of love and music of energy and joy. The groove and rhythms will take you in at once. I liked it as soon as I heard it.

We featured six cuts from the new cd (on Soundway Records):

A New Day
Mowa, featuring Miguel Atwood-Ferguson
Without an Address, featuring Alsarah
Sidet Eskemeche, featuring Yared Teshale
Be My Habesha
Yene Konjo, featuring Mark De Clive-Lowe

Many of the cuts were done in artists’ living rooms, recorded and mixed by Dexter and Carlos Niño. It’s music of love and good vibrations, and you can’t help get the feeling that this was a real family-type project. And it once again shows that music is the universal language that brings us together, a balm to balance the chaos we see out in the world every day. I was hooked the minute I heard the very first track, “A New Day”. I think you will be too.