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On the Road with Zap Mama


Greetings from Tampa. We’re two shows into a 29 show tour with the amazing Zap Mama taking us across the US (and one show in Toronto). What a treat to start the tour in warm sunny Florida, far away from the bitter cold of Brooklyn. We’ll be here for three more shows (West Palm Beach, Miami, and Orlando) before making our way back north via Atlanta, Richmond, Newport News, and DC, and then to some of the coldest parts of the US…

The tour has been unique in that we’re collaborating with Zap Mama…we’ve learned some of their songs, and they’ve learned some of ours, and the bulk of the set features the twelve of us and four of them singing and making music together. In addition to Zap Mama’s tunes, we’re performing mostly new original material…songs composed by lead vocalist Amayo and Antibalas founder/baritone saxophonist Martín Perna. In the mix so far: “Action Time”, “Hook and Crook”, and “Tombstown”. We’re also doing a trademark Antibalas arrangement of the 1984 Rockwell/Michael Jackson jam “Somebody’s Watching Me” which seemed like a silly paranoid fantasy at the time it hit the radio, but now 30 years later has proven to be prophetic. Audiences are loving it in the way that you can love a song that tells the bitter truth about a sad, absurd reality.

Zap Mama is amazing and it has been a pleasure working with them. After seventeen years of Antibalas being an all-male band, their presence has created a refreshing and necessary equilibrium of yin and yang energy onstage. They are consummate professionals, excellent vocal performers, great dancers, sharp dressers (we’ve had to really step up our clothing game) and all-around nice people. It’s been a family vibe with Marie and Lene each bringing their children out for the first leg of the tour.

We’ll be posting some live recordings on our Soundcloud page (and mirrored here) as well as photos and video of the tour. You can follow it virtually, but nothing will come close to the experience of seeing this rare collaboration live in person.

Stay tuned.

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