Hailu Mergia

Hailu Mergia

On Thursday 6th August, The Tin Music and Arts brings another fantastic and revered international act to The Tin at the Coal Vaults for an unforgettable night of live music : Hailu Mergia.

It is easy to understand the return of the Hailu Mergia to the world of music as one of the most unlikely comebacks of the last few years. The keyboardist was a major star in 1970’s Ethiopia, presiding over the country’s leading instrumental ensemble Walias Band, which worked restlessly on the Addis Ababa hotel circuit and jamming with luminaries like Duke Ellington and Manu Dibango. In 1981 a good part of Walias including Hailu used the first ever US tour of an Ethiopian music group to escape the dictatorial Mengistu regime. Since then Hailu has been a resident of the Washington DC area, spending most of his recent years as a cab driver at the capital’s Dulles Airport and playing only privately.

Enter Brian Shimkovitz, operator of the acclaimed blog-turned-record label Awesome Tapes From Africa, who came across “Hailu Mergia & His Classical Instrument”, a somehow obscure 1985 cassette, in a music store in Ethiopia, tracked down the old maestro and reissued it: This charming tape has both a nostalgic feel (in its attempt to revive the accordion, once East Africa’s leading instrument) as well as a futuristic dimension (featureing a host of synthesizers and drum machines). On the back of Shimkovitz’ reissue of “Classical Instrument’, Hailu started to play live again. Accompanying him this summer are Mike Majkowski on double bass, who has come to acclaim with his imaginative solo performances, and Poland’s hottest young drummer Paweł Szpura. Together the trio explores the deep, liquid and hypnotic qualities of Hailu Mergia’s music, while not forgetting to throw in some defty bits of funk now and then.

Hailu is a truly unique artist, and one we’re very excited to be bringing to The Tin Music and Arts for one of just two exclusive UK shows.

For tickets to see the legendary Hailu Mergia, click here.