Author Archives: les gars

About les gars

Alex Owre & Michael Shereikis, drummer and guitarist for Zieti

All Things Considered!

This has been an amazing week for Zieti, capped off by a 10 minute feature on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday. Alex and Michael sat down for a long chat with host Guy Raz, and then they asked us back for a phone interview with Narcisse in Abidjan. The piece they produced from all our ramblings is just beautiful. We can’t say enough about the talent, spirit and passion of everyone at NPR. This country would simply not be complete without the work they do.

[Click here to listen to Zieti on NPR’s All Things Considered]

And we have more thanks to give, to all the players from Chopteeth, to Cheick Hamala Diabate and especially to Ary Zogdoule, Fifi, Kobo and Narcisse for making the CD release party such a smashing success on Thursday. I hope to see that scene repeated every Thursday at Bossa Bistro.

African music in DC is dans le mouvement quoi!

Washington Post!

“An ageless hybrid with no stylistic borders.” 

So says reviewer Bill Friskics-Warren in today’s Washington Post about Zemelewa.

He goes on to cite no fewer than 13 different genres of music in describing Zieti’s sound, including afrobeat, highlife, Congolese rumba, juju, Tex-mex, cajun, latin, funk, jazz, blues, rock, New Orleans R&B and jazz-rock fusion. (What? He didn’t mention the Tuvan monk influence!)

Narcisse’s vocals earn him comparisons with Van Morrison and Tabu Ley Rochereau, which is rarified air indeed. And guitarist Victor Crisen has got to be happy with his soloing on Mandedi being called “Santana-like.”

Friskics-Warren concludes: “However unfamiliar their words may be to English-speaking listeners, the urgency in Narcisse’s raspy tenor and in the vocal call-and-response on the album speaks volumes. And it’s not just the voices, but also the haunting beauty of the record’s melodies and the pointed interplay of the players’ crisscrossing rhythms.”

[Click to read the full review]

World Music Central

Zemelewa continues to receive critical acclaim from some of the most respected sources for world music news and reviews.

Today on World Music Central, reviewer Tom Orr describes Zemelewa as a “…superb, spirited selection of Afropop beginning with the Francophone zest of the title track and continuing through dance-inducing jams, acoustic asides, heartfelt topical tunes and bold fusions, all so seamlessly played and sung you’d never guess they were assembled from tracks recorded in two hemispheres.”

His ultimate assessment: “Zemelewa is one of the best collaborative efforts of its type and an early contender for one of 2012’s best.”

Congrats to Narcisse, Laurent and the whole Zieti family for creating something special.

More Kind Words

Any world music friends of yours are world music friends of ours!

Many thanks to the good folks at for such a lovely, thoughtful review of Zemelewa:

“Rooted in the kaleidoscope colors of the Afropop sound, Zemelewa dips into West African funk, Congolese rumba and 1970s Afrofunk to brighten its sound. The result is fabulously fresh and deliciously addictive.”

Zemelewa is simply stunning and we hope that the next offering from Zieti comes with a lot less struggle.”

Amen to that!  

[Click to read the full review]


Mark your calendars!

We’ll be dancing the night away March 8th at Bossa Bistro to celebrate the official release of Zemelewa.

Live music downstairs with Ary Zogdoule and his Cameroonian all-star crew, Cheick Hamala Diabate, members of Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band & special guests. Original Zieti members Michael and Alex will be on hand, and with a little techno-wizardry, Narcisse and Laurent will make a virtual appearance for a song or three…

But wait, there’s more!

In the upstairs lounge, DJ Guilherme will be spinning dance tracks from his deep African vinyl collection all night. That’s two floors of righteous afrofunk, brought to you by Grigri Discs. Only $5!

Click here for details.

Abidjan Practice Space!

Finally Narcisse was able to send some pictures of our first shipment of musical gear, now installed in Zeiti’s new practice space in Abidjan. Doesn’t look too glamorous, but then who needs glamorous?

This space is Zieti’s temporary home for rehearsals, and for renting to other bands for same. Our next shipment is due to arrive in March, and will allow Narcisse to start looking for a suitable location and space for a live music venue.

A third shipment is scheduled for late Spring 2012, and will include equipment to really amp up the sound system.

Abidjan Bound!

Another huge day for Zieti! Cherif and his good friend Shaka (pictured at left) came over today with Shaka’s van to collect our next installment in this Abidjan Live! project. They took almost half of what we have to send, and will have it on a fast boat to Abidjan in the next few days. This container ship takes only 28 days to cross, so Narcisse should have everything in hand by mid-late March.

Included in this shipment is a laptop, webcam and digital camera, to better document things in Abidjan and hugely increase the ease and quality of communications across the pond. Skype is already loaded, along with a massive trove of funky music from Africa and all over the globe.

Beyond those elements, we focused this shipment on infrastructure for a small club. 16-channel mixer & snake, power amp, speakers, mics, mic stands, cables, keyboard and voltage converters will all make this trip.

Cherif has another container shipping out this Spring, and continues to offer us free space and invaluable help negotiating customs, without which this almost certainly couldn’t happen. Our next installment will include bass and guitar amps, guitars, trombone, stereo components, monitors, spare drums, bigger power amp and speakers to match, all boxed and labeled and just awaiting the tides.

That would pretty much cover everything Zieti needs to equip a boomin’ live music spot in Abidjan. Narcisse is ready, excited and more than able to make this work. Laurent is still reportedly making his way to the city, and will hopefully rejoin Narcisse soon.

To those of you who have donated gear or money, or bought an advanced copy of Zieti’s debut CD, thank you! thank you! You are what makes this possible.

We’ll keep the updates coming, along with details of Zieti’s CD Release Party March 8th in DC…stay tuned…

Early Reviews

Here’s what they’re saying in the press about Zemelewa:

“Wild stuff for wide open ears that need a careening ride through some new,  exciting back alleys.”Midwest Record
“From a small stumbling start a grand opus has emerged. The full sound is rich,  the songs go from lovelorn ballads to out and out jamdowns. The musical rapport  is intact, across an ocean.”Muzikifan

DC Musicians Strike Again!

We’re packing and cataloging and getting all this lovely old musical gear ready to pile into the nooks and crannies of Cherif’s container next week. The last few donations from DC’s amazing musical community have now come in, and they were critical!

Andrew Roberts with HMT: Sounds Reasonable met us on the street oustide a Persian wedding he was working in DC to offer up a mess of mic stands and a rackmount EQ to sweeten the sound overseas. Nice!

Art Isaacs, one of the top sound engineers in the business (e.g, ran sound for Obama’s ’09 inauguration) and a great, calm, positive spirit, offered up an amazing Mackie 16-channel mixer w/ case! Unbelievable, and precisely the center-piece needed to make all this work.

Scott Aronson of Elikeh kicked in with a sweet little Peavey bass amp that will be perfect for small rehearsals and just practicing alone. Bass players in Abidjan almost never have the luxury of practicing while actually plugged in to anything. This will make someone very happy, and a much better bass player. Sweet!

Cheryl Terwilliger from Chopteeth and Director of the Music Program at a local private school, brought over a Yamaha PSR-550, which is pretty much the precise keyboard the guys were hoping for in Abidjan. We’ll make the case forcefully for it to not be used to play synth horn lines, but that’s a strong headwind over there I’m afraid.

From monetary donations and Grigri Discs funds we were also able to pack up a laptop and digital camera, along with some heavy duty voltage converters and extension cords so we don’t fry anything in its new 220 volt home.

We can’t tell you how grateful we are for everyone’s generosity of spirit! This has been an incredible last few weeks, and we will do our utmost to make sure everything gets to Abidjan, and is put to maximum good use for the Zieti community.

Updates on the shipping as events unfold, as well as news on an album release party in DC for “Zemelewa” in early March. Stay tuned…

NPR likes Zieti!

What a thrill to hear a bit of Zieti played between segments on today’s Morning Edition on NPR! A few bars of “Zion Do” hit the airwaves immediately following a Lourdes Garcia-Navarro report on Egypt’s military government crackdown on revolutionaries. A sad tale alas…

Immediately following Zieti, NPR then played a snippet of “Snake Eyes” from DC afrofunksters and Zieti collaborators Chopteeth Afrofunk Big Band. That’s a nice little two-fer for our indie label Grigri Discs.

Many thanks to Morning Edition, and here’s hoping for more exposure coming soon as we ramp up to Zieti’s March 6th official release!