Zongo Junction @ The 8×10 Feb 7th Baltimore MD
Written & Photographed by Nick Hobbs
Standing on an icy street corner I spy the entrance to the 8×10 from across the road and see it beginning to fill with music lovers ready to get down to the sounds of Zongo Junction from Brooklyn, NY–a band that began in drummer, Charles Ferguson’s, basement. “A friend of mine (Charles) from college and I wanted to start an Afrobeat band, we were super in to West African dance music and so we got some friends together, mostly guys we were going to school with or guys we knew from back in the bay area (Cali) where we were both from and we just kinda started jammin in my basement.” This nine piece ensemble has kept dance floors packed since 2009 with horns and saxophones mounted front and center, congas and drums on the side and behind, keys and rhythm layered in between to give you the full Afrobeat experience.
Zongo Junctions beat resonates deep in your body with an uptempo speed that leaves no one standing still and the sharp snaps from the horns are lively enough to keep the crowd jumping in unison towards the ceiling. The 8×10 is tightly packed and smiles are abound as trumpeter Aaron Rocker and trombonist Kevin Moehringers faces looked like they would burst if they played any harder. The party atmosphere was steadily brought to higher levels as Zongo Junction got deeper into their set, bringing out favorites (at least mine) like “The Van That Got Away” and “Elephant And Mosquito” When asked about the ultra hilarious video for “The Van” I found on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CgxSxJO-Lg) Kevin had a laugh and said “I think it is indicative of a lot of Afrobeat music as being politically charged and very serious. Our reference to the music is more about the dance and party atmosphere of it. We like to have a good time and not take ourselves too seriously, so I think the video is sort of a tribute to that.”
Even though it was a short one set show I felt the crowd and I had been treated to a nice sampler of what Zongo Junction has to offer listeners. You can check out their unique sounds that are posted on the web at http://zongojunction.net/ and by the sounds of it there’s more to come. “We have an EP called ‘Thieves’ that came out a few years ago,” tells Jonah Parzen-Johnson, Tenor Sax, “then last spring we put out a 7” of the song “The Van That got Away” with a remix on the b-side by Seafloor. Along with that we released a remix of “Elephant & Mosquito” by Captain Planet and we are currently finishing up a new album that should be out soon.
So be on the lookout for Zongo Junction at a venue near you and be ready to groove to the melodic West African sound these guys bring to the house.