Debo Band are all over the place. They are a little bit Ethiopian pop (the band is fronted by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen), a little bit American soul, and the massive amount of brass and instrumentation is reminiscent of Eastern European music. But somehow, all of this works together quite nicely on and off the stage. Traditional Ethiopian scales and tonality dominate, but Debo Band’s arrangement and diversity really create a unique listening experience that is altogether delightful.
Today in the Music Lounge, Debo Band packed all of their members onstage for a wildly energetic set. Their group consisted of two violins, accordion, a trumpet and two saxophones, percussion, drums, bass, guitar, and beautiful, beautiful vocals by Bruck Tesfaye. If you could keep track of what was happening onstage, Debo Band was an eccentric wonder. Each member of the band was a master of their instrument, and each was given at least one opportunity to really show off their skills. Without understanding a single word, the crowd could feel the energy and the joy of this band resonating from each note.
By the time Debo Band got to “Asha Gedawo” (the single, of sorts, from their excellent self-titled Sub Pop debut, out July 10 of this year), the crowd was energized and dancing along (even in the music lounge!). Their session here with KEXP was just a taste of what we will see when they take the Sub Pop stage tomorrow.