Mokoomba returns to Schenectady Headlines Passport Series: Music Haven at Proctors

Mokoomba returns to Schenectady
Headlines Passport Series: Music Haven at Proctors
Knockout band from Zimbabwe leads dance party
at GE Theatre at Proctors, Thursday, April 11

SCHENECTADY, N.Y.—MARCH 27, 2019—Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, where the Zambezi River drops 350 feet, earning a name, in the local dialect, that translates as “the smoke that thunders.” At the border of Zambia, the town is a cultural crossroads, with language and custom flowing and mixing as freely as the famous falls themselves.

Mokoomba makes music that thunders, and the band, hailing from Victoria Falls, returns to Schenectady, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11, headlining the final 2018–2019 edition of Passport Series: Music Haven at Proctors at the GE Theatre at Proctors.

In June 2014, Mokoomba made its first appearance in the United States, in nearby Central Park, opening the 25th anniversary season of Music Haven Concert Series with a dance party that followed the sun below the horizon, creating the kind of glowing moonbow that usually only happens over the great waterfall.

That first date lives large in local music legend. If you were there, this performance is a chance to pinch yourself and see if it was real. If you weren’t, it’s a second chance to understand the sheer musical magic of Mokoomba—what German music journalist Thorsten Bednarz calls “the future of Afrosound.”

Life in a border city, rife with tourists from all over the world, is what gives Mokoomba’s music a truly international perspective, incorporating everything from reggae, afropop, soukous and soul alongside its own local musical idioms. The sextet’s knockout live shows offer a potent blend of traditional sounds from Tonga, Luvale and Nyanja, yet speak—explosively—in a universal tongue.

Mathias Muzaza (lead vocals), Ndaba Coster Moyo (drums, backing vocals), Trustworth Samende (lead guitar, backing vocals), Donald Moyo, (keyboards, backing vocals), Miti Mugande, (percussion, backing vocals) and Abundance Mutori (bass, backing vocals) grew up as friends in the Chinotimba township, and after years of playing together, formalized as a band in 2008, with Mokoomba’s first major success coming that same year when they won the Music Crossroads Inter-Regional Festival Competition in Malawi.

The band’s big break came in 2012, with the release of Rising Tide, produced by pioneering Ivoirian bassist Manou Gallo (Zap Mama) for the Belgian label ZigZag World.

In February 2017, Mokoomba released its self-produced third album Luyando on Germany’s OutHere label, a stripped down, mostly acoustic effort that took its sound in a whole new direction and took critics by storm.

Since then, Mokoomba has become one of Zimbabwe’s most popular bands, playing with such icons as the late Hugh Masekela, Baba Maal and the Talking Head’s Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz. They’ve rocked legendary rooms and stages worldwide, from New York’s Apollo Theater and The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., to London’s 100 Club and Amsterdam’s Melkweg. Mokoomba has played WOMEX and SXSW, sealing its reputation as one of Africa’s best young live bands.

Tickets, $25, for Mokoomba at the GE Theatre at Proctors, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11 are available at the Box Office at Proctors, 432 State Street, Schenectady; by phone at 518.346.6204; and online at proctors.org.

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