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Country Kenya UK Genres acoustic roots fusion Festival Sauti za Busara 2013 Recordings
Owiny Sigoma Band, 2011
In 2009, a handful of London-based musicians travelled to Nairobi in Kenya to collaborate with local musicians. It was a loose arrangement; there being no specific agenda other than to bring the musicians together, exchange ideas and enjoy the results.
The traditional music of Kenya has not received the same global exposure as that of West Africa, South Africa or North Africa for example and one of the objectives of this project was to try and build on this. The band draw on a broad spectrum of African influences, from Fela Kuti and Tony Allen to the likes of Thomas Mapfumo and Oumou Sangare, but bar Jesse’s participation with Damon Albarn’s Africa Express, this was the first opportunity for UK musicians Jesse Hackett (keys), Louis Hackett (bass), Sam Lewis (guitar), Chris Morphitis (bouzouki/guitar) and Tom Skinner (drums) to visit Kenya specifically for a musical project.
The guys’ first trip to Nairobi in January 2009 was to meet and collaborate with two Luo musicians: Joseph Nyamungu and Charles Owoko, who play nyatiti (harp), orutu (fiddle), drums and percussion. The workshop/rehearsals were a lot of fun: “They acted as a skills exchange and a way of sharing our music. We learned some of their songs and they learned some of our songs too,” explains Tom. Finding a studio that could accommodate a 7-piece live band wasn’t easy, but eventually they holed up in an amazing disused factory space to record.
The resulting four tracks made their way to Gilles Peterson (BBC Worldwide), who promptly signed the band to his Brownswood record label and sent the guys back to Nairobi for another week-long recording session with Joseph, Charles and their extended musical family. In 2011 the band’s self-titled album was released – a collection of gloriously hypnotic Afro grooves symbolic of the true culture clash between the Luo and London.
“Original, quirky but backed with a mercurial musicianship, the Owiny Sigomas have all the attributes of a band that look set to become firm festival favourites.” (Record Collector)