Mergia, Hailu – “Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument” – [Awesome Tapes From Africa]
Hailu Mergia was/is a big player on the Ethiopian music scene. His group Walias Band changed the way Ethiopian popular music was dealt with, booking their own shows, dealing with their own music, etc. Read the back album cover for a full overview. Interesting stuff. Mergia went solo and put out recordings trying to merge traditional Ethiopian songs with a more contemporary sound. This was 1980’s so that meant analog synthesizer, drum machine, electric piano, accordion and even Moog synthesizer. When I read this I was in whole hog. Awesome Tapes From Africa released this collection of his music and on hearing the first note I bowed down to Mergia. It is soulful, jazzy with some fusion, drum machine beat driven like the best/worst wedding music, and full on Ethiopian in that almost off kilter off key kind of way. And then there is the accordion. He is a one man band supreme. If you are ever in Washington D.C. and you get a cab with a waiting driver playing his electric piano in the back seat, hop in fast. It’s Hailu. Two thumbs up. Way Up. Shake you butt.