Harlem’s Mwenso & The Shakes embark on ‘Harlem 100’ Tour this fall

Harlem-based band Mwenso & The Shakes will embark on their extensive “Harlem 100” North American Tour this fall which includes stops in Baton Rouge, Jacksonville, Greenville, Charlotte, Des Moines, Princeton, St. Louis, Flint, Stanford and many more.

In collaboration with IMG Artists,the National Jazz Museum in Harlem and JMG Live, this multimedia show celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance while capturing the sights and sounds of Harlem when legendary artists such as Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Langston Hughes and Billie Holiday made Harlem the cultural center of the country. Conducted by bandleader and lead vocalist Michael Mwenso, “Harlem 100” presents the most exciting Harlem musicians and dancers in a modern variety show.

Mwenso & The Shakes

“The ‘Harlem 100′ will be a musical journey that celebrates one of the greatest movements in cultural history while connecting the past to the present,” says Mwenso.

Mwenso was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone but spent his teenage years hanging out at the legendary jazz club Ronnie Scott’s in London where he was exposed to musicians such as Benny Carter, Elvin Jones, Ray Brown and Billy Higgins. In his youth, Mwenso started honing his talents as a trombonist, singer and performer playing in jump bands, reggae and Afrobeat horn sections and at hard-bop sessions. Mwenso’s talent as a performer caught the attention of many, which subsequently led him to meet James Brown who allotted space for him to sing and dance at his London shows.

The band’s debut album Emergence, out now via Ropeadope Records, has received critical praise, with PRI’s “The World” saying, “To say the music of Mwenso and The Shakes is pretty wild is an understatement. It’s part jazz, part funk and part Broadway show tunes.”

Driven by Mwenso’s deep ancestral understanding of the African-American music tradition, Emergence came together through many late nights at the band’s loft in Harlem exploring music outside of the traditional classroom, using free-form musical expression. Hailing from many corners of the world including Sierra Leone, London, South Africa, Greenwich Village, Madagascar, France, Jamaica and Hawaii, the band gains inspiration from each of their unique backgrounds while cohesively collaborating in a spontaneously communal and improvisational environment.

In 2012, friend and jazz musician Wynton Marsalis brought Mwenso to New York City to serve as curator and programming associate at Jazz at Lincoln Center where he also booked nightly sets at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola. Over the next few years, Mwenso booked and performed with the likes of Cécile McLorin Salvant, Jon Batiste, Aaron Diehl, Sullivan Fortner and Jamison Ross.

Through these performances at Dizzy’s, Mwenso began to collaborate with a wide variety of Juilliard-trained musicians that soon became known as The Shakes. This unique group of global artists presents music that merges entertainment and artistry with a formidable timeline of jazz and blues through African and Afro-American music.

Mwenso & The Shakes are Mwenso (bandleader, vocals), Vuyo Sotashe (vocals), Kyle Poole (drums), Gabe Schnider (guitar), Mathis Picard (piano and keys), Ruben Fox (tenor sax), Julian Lee (tenor sax), Russell Hall (bass)and Michela Marino Lerman (tap dance).

Mwenso & The Shakes “Harlem 100” Tour Dates

October 8—Baton Rouge, LA—The Manship Theatre

October 11—Irmo, SC—Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College

October 12—Wilmington, NC—Thalian Hall

October 13—Jacksonville, FL—Ritz Theatre & Museum

October 14—Greenville, SC—Peace Center for Performing Arts

October 15—Charlotte, NC—Blumenthal Performing Arts, Knight Theater

October 17—College Park, MD—Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center

October 18—Harrisonburg, VA—James Madison University – The Forbes Center for the Performing Arts

October 19—Hampton, VA— Hampton Arts, The American Theatre  

October 22—University Park, PA—Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State University

October 23—Lancaster, PA—Millersville University, The Ware Center

October 24—Rochester, NY—Nazareth College Arts Center, Callahan Theater

October 26—Storrs, CT—Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts at University of Connecticut

October 27—Morristown, NJ—Mayo Performing Arts Center

October 30—Des Moines, IA—Hoyt Sherman Place

November 1—West Lafayette, IN—Loeb Playhouse at Purdue University

November 2—Oxford, OH—Miami University of Ohio Hall Auditorium

November 3—Midland, MI—Midland Center for the Arts

November 6—Princeton, NJ—McCarter Theatre

November 7—Athens, OH—Ohio University Memorial Auditorium

November 8—Carmel, IN—Center for the Performing Arts

November 9—St Louis, MO—The Sheldon Concert Hall

November 10—Overland Park, KS—Carlsen Center at Johnson Country Community College

November 14—Urbana, IL—Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Colwell Playhouse

November 15—Flint, MI—The Whiting

November 16—Chandler, AZ—Chandler Center for the Arts

November 17—Cerritos, CA—Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts

November 20—Stanford, CA—Stanford Live, Bing Concert Hall

November 21—Rohnert Park, CA—Green Music Center at Sonoma State University

November 22—Davis, CA—Mondavi Center

November 23—Livermore, CA—Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center

November 24—Arroyo Grande, CA—Clark Center for the Performing Arts, Forbes Hall