Regatta Bar

Debo Band – October 18, 2013

Dear Debo Band,

YOU GUYS ROCK.

Bobby.

For those of you not in the group, Debo Band is a 10-piece Ethiopian-American jazz-funk-rock group unlike anything you’ve probably ever heard. The band is led by saxophonist Danny Mekonnen and fronted by vocalist Bruck Tesfaye. Debo Band brings energy, musicality, and performance together in ways that are unique but still engagingly accessible. This is partially because of its eclectic influences, partly because of its distinctive collection of instruments. A drum kit, a trombone, a sousaphone, a violin, a guitar, a bass, a trumpet, a sax, an accordion, and a vocalist make up one of the more distinguishing ensembles on tour. Debo Band’s eclectic sound is what makes them so interesting, but it is the band’s energy that makes them so fun. The cohesion of the group, infusion of accordion solos, rhythmic violin, and wall of brass sound help carry the energetic vocals.

You’ve probably experienced bands that make people get up and dance. Maybe you were at a dance hall. Maybe you were at a music festival. Until Friday, I had never experienced this in a jazz club in Cambridge. By the time the band reached the end of their set, half of the audience was dancing with the vocalist, and the other half was keeping time. This band is supremely fun and Tesfaye is so engaging that any audience would have a hard time not getting involved with Debo Band’s performances. It’s hard to capture this kind of group’s energy on recording, but if you want to get a taste for the flavor and energy that Debo Band brings live, “Belomi Benna” is a great place to start. If you get the chance, see this group live and check out their debut self-titled album.

~ Bobby Ortega (blues guitarist, graduate student at the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology)