August 31, 2016
For all the times that we’ve heard the phrase “African music,” it can be easy to forget that we’re talking about an entire continent here. The reality is that the African continent consists of more than 50 countries, different environments—from the deep desert of the Sahara to the central African rainforests—and radically different cultures—from ancient civilizations to modern metropolises.
July 21, 2016
A quick glance at Democratoz, and you might just see the typical jam band or reggae group. And that’s fine with them as they tour the United States for the first time, landing in New York for a show Friday night at The Shrine in Harlem. It’s as close as they’ll get to being just another band, because in reality, they’re not. What they do is a lot more important than that, as the Oran, Algeria natives don’t sing about partying or last night at the club.
July 15, 2016
Known for their eclectic mix of Algerian rai, rock and reggae, the seven members of Democratoz came together in 2011 shortly after Algeria’s 19-year-long state of emergency. Now five years later, the group is beginning their first tour of the US sponsored by Center Stage, an exchange program of the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
July 14, 2016
In Oran, Algeria’s most cosmopolitan city and home of the band Democratoz, local folk music blended with Western rock to yield rai. The style, whose name means “opinion” in Arabic, is known for social commentary. As the group’s name suggests, Democratoz is as politically engaged as any of rai’s more veteran acts, but it also offers rousing melodies and exuberant beats.
July 14, 2016
Decades after his death, Bob Marley continues to influence the music of artists around the world. Algeria’s Democratoz started off performing covers of the reggae legend’s songs before recording originals—mostly in Arabic—that meld island rhythms and melodies with rock and regional rai and gnawa elements.
July 13, 2016
There is a definite reggae beat, repetitive refrains and strong vocals mixed with the mystique of North African instruments. It's easy to listen to, difficult to put into a category. This is the eight-man band, Democratoz; part of a new generation of Algerian musicians, pushing boundaries, blending Algeria's rich music traditions with modern influences from around the world.
July 11, 2016
But Outside the Box’s diverse lineup also boasts Boston’s burgeoning international arts scene. The festival features international acts based both in Boston and around the globe. Daughtry and Smash Mouth might be the headline bands, but the groups that really give this a new-Boston flavor weave together sounds from all corners of the earth.
June 30, 2016
Tanzanian band Jagwa Music, who have long championed mchiriku music on the streets of Dar es Salaam, are set to tour the USA for the first time in September and October. The band will tour the US as part of the Center Stage cultural exchange programme, an ambitious project initiated by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
April 13, 2016
Culture is more, however, than heritage sites and the art we find in museums. Culture is also the living, vibrant expression of a people’s way of life. It is the traditions, habits, patterns, and even the quirks and idiosyncracies that define a people and make them unique and special.
March 21, 2016
When I got a call last spring from the Center Stage program, I never imagined that it would lead me to drop (well, postpone) everything I was working on and start a new digital book project. The previous fall, Center Stage had announced a competition to bring music and theater troupes from Algeria and Tanzania to the United States for a month-long tour. I had been working with several Algerian theater troupes since 2008, and I put them in touch with Center Stage. The upshot: one of the troupes, Istijmam, was selected and will be touring the U.S. in September 2016.