The 11-member ethio pop group Debo Band has been tearing up stages from SXSW to the Lower East Side since 2006. This month they’ll play Sanders Theatre in a free concert as part of the Harvard Music Department conference, Out of Bounds. Ethnography | History | Music.
Led by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen and fronted by charismatic vocalist Bruck Tesfaye, the band has won raves for their groundbreaking take on Ethiopian pop music, which incorporates traditional scales and vocal styles, alongside American soul and funk rhythms, and instrumentation reminiscent of Eastern European brass bands.
Debo Band’s performance highlights an academic conference honoring Professor Kay Kaufman Shelemay, whose work as an ethnographer in Ethiopia during the overthrow of Hailie Selassie has inspired panel topics, as well as her scholarship on the importance of history in ethnomusicology, collaborative ethnography, and music and memory. Paper sessions will focus on ethnography, history, communities, migration, and memory. The keynote will be given by Ellen T. Harris, Professor Emeritus at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Tickets for the concert are free, and can be reserved through the Harvard Box Office (617-496, 2222 or online, service charges apply), or by visiting the Box Office in person (no service charge). Sanders is located at 45 Quincy Street, in Memorial Hall on the Harvard University campus. Nearest T shop: Harvard Square Red Line. Parking is free from 6pm to midnight at the Broadway Garage, corner of Felton Street and Broadway, across from Broadway Market in Cambridge.