An 11-piece Afrobeat orchestra direct from San Francisco, Aphrodesia has been filling theaters around the country with their rowdy blend of African rhythms, exotic melodies, slamming percussion and monstrous horns. At once socially charged in the tradition of African greats like Fela Kuti and as intoxicating as a drop of honey on your lover’s trembling backside, Aphrodesia’s music and stage show are irresistible.
Emerging in 2003 from the fertile San Francisco Bay Area music scene, Aphrodesia’s highly original brand of Super Aphro Beat and uncompromising political stance made them resist easy classification. In 2004, the band exploded into the national consciousness with the Just Vote Tour, a swing-state voter registration tour that took the band all the way to NYC and back in their vegetable oil-powered bus and landed the group on the cover of USA Today. Showstopping performances at the High Sierra Music Festival and the Baja Bash also won the group high praise, and while the band was busy extending its reach into Southern California and up to the Pacific Northwest with several phenomenal tours, the bands debut CD, Shackrobeat Vol. 1 (Flatbed Lamborghini), was picked as one of the best records of 2003 by the East Bay Express. The band’s brand-new second CD, “Front Lines” (Full Cut Records), is already generating a buzz that looks to broaden their appeal even further- the CD was reviewed in May on National Public Radio’s “Weekend America.”
Aphrodesia’s extraordinary sonic stew encompasses touches of Afrobeat, Highlife, dub, funk, Caribbean spice and East African trance music, all with the captivating vocal stylings of Lara Maykovich as their focal point. After living in Ghana and Zimbabwe during 1997 and 98, where she studied and performed with members of Akrowa Dance Ensemble of Ghana, Hewale Sounds of Ghana, Ghana National Dance Company and National Music and Dance Company of Zimbabwe, Maykovich returned to Boulder, Colorado, where she sang with The Motet and performed with Boubacar Diabete. She met bassist Ezra Gale soon after moving to the Bay Area in 2002, and the pair then recruited a stellar supporting cast that before long created such a buzz the East Bay Express dubbed them The Bay Areas answer to Antibalas.
Aphrodesias music carries with it a strong sense of social justice, and the band has been known to write their own politically-charged lyrics while updating Fela Kuti classics like No Agreement and Zombie. But the bands commitment to social change extends offstage as well. Aside from headlining numerous benefits for causes ranging from AIDS prevention to Tsunami Relief to anti-Iraq War organizations, Aphrodesia is devoted to ‘walking the walk as well as talking the talk’. Believing that alternative energy is necessary both to protect our planet’s environment and to reduce America’s dangerous dependence on foreign oil, the band proudly travels in a vegetable-oil powered bus- meaning its one of the few groups of any stripe not sponsored by Chevron, Texaco, and co. It may be a small start, but the group believes that its actions, like its music, can have a huge effect.
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