A pre-gentrified Williamsburg serves as the backdrop for Fu Chronicles, a voyage back to the early days of when Antibalas and revered soul label, Daptone Records, were spawned out of lead singer Duke Amayo’s kung fu dojo. A senior master of the Jow Ga Kung Fu School of martial arts, Duke Amayo along with Antibalas’ founder/baritone saxophonist, Martín Perna, guide listeners through an epic journey where kung fu ingeniously intersects with Afrobeat on Fu Chronicles.
WNWNYC’s New Sounds exclusively premiered Antibalas’ latest from The opening track and first single off Fu Chronicles, “Amenawon,” Tuesday. It honors Amayo’s late mother, whose middle name was Amenawon. She is also depicted on the cover of Fu Chronicles standing as tall as the Statue Of Liberty, carrying a baby.
With the literal meaning translating to “may the water you will drink, not pass you by,” the composition speaks to rain water washing away pollution and the unveiling of government lies. Amayo pays homage to the Yoruba River goddess, Yomoja, whose healing powers can be accessed by invoking her name. Water is further a symbol in kung fu reflecting one’s ability to adapt to any situation.
At age 12 in Lagos, Nigeria, Amayo began his kung fu practice while simultaneously witnessing the spiritual leader Fela Kuti perform at his famous nightclubs the Afro-Spot and Afrika Shrine in Lagos. Living in the same neighborhood of the Afro-Spot and sneaking into the clubs to experience the force of nature that was Fela Kuti, a young Amayo was enlightened on his path destined for greatness in America.
Attracted to the cosmopolitan lifestyle of fashion, dance, martial arts, and music, Amayo moved beyond the highlights of his football career to launch a singular clothing brand and open a kung fu dojo in Williamsburg, dubbed the Afro-Spot Temple. Upon opening the dojo, Daptone co-founder Gabe Roth and Martín Perna inquired about classes, and soon invited Amayo to join Antibalas. The dojo became the headquarters for the band and label with Antibalas’ classic sophomore album, Talkatif (2002), being recorded onsite at the dojo’s recording studio. Coming full circle, Fu Chronicles sees Gabe Roth in the producer’s chair with Antibalas laying down the tracks at Daptone’s House of Soul in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Fu Chronicles transports listeners to where universal equilibrium and indefinite possibilities unite within a dream world of a child’s limitless mind. The transcendent long-form Afrobeat compositions decolonize our psyches through movements traversing with melodies to realign us with a purpose of finding balance in our coexistence. The fiery Antibalas ensemble — widely renowned as one of America’s fiercest live bands — along with an additional five musicians transform Amayo’s opus into hypnotic and invigorating compositions with singular rhythms of resistance.
Pre-order the album HERE.
Over the course of its lauded 20-year career, Antibalas has toured across four continents and produced eight studio albums, establishing them as the premier Afrobeat band in the West. In addition to their integral role as the backing band for the Tony Award-Winning Broadway musical “Fela,” Antibalas has served as the house band for several star-studded tribute shows at Carnegie Hall and the Apollo Theater paying tribute to the music of Aretha Franklin, David Byrne, Paul Simon, and Billie Holiday.
ANTIBALAS – WINTER & SPRING 2020 TOUR DATES
Tuesday, February 11 — The Siren — San Luis Obispo, CA
Wednesday, February 12 — Moe’s Alley — Santa Cruz, CA
Thursday, February 13 — The Regent — Los Angeles, CA
Friday, February 14 — The Independent — San Francisco, CA
Saturday, February 15 — The New Parish — Oakland, CA
Sunday, February 16 — The Independent — San Francisco, CA
Thursday, February 20 — Neptune Theatre — Seattle, WA
Friday, February 21 — Rickshaw Theater — Vancouver, BC
Saturday, February 22 — PDX Jazz — Portland, OR
Sunday, February 23 — The Olympic — Boise, ID
Wednesday, February 26 — Knotty Pine — Victor ID
Thursday, February 27 — The Commonwealth Room — Salt Lake City, UT
Friday, February 28 — Washington’s — Fort Collins, CO
Thursday, March 19 — The Sinclair — Boston, MA
Friday, March 20 — Brooklyn Bowl — Brooklyn, NY
Saturday, March 21 — Brooklyn Bowl — Brooklyn, NY
Thursday, March 26 — Terminal West — Atlanta, GA
Friday, March 27 — The Grey Eagle — Asheville, NC
Saturday, March 28 — Cat’s Cradle — Carrboro, NC
Friday, April 3 — Sleeping Village — Chicago, IL
Saturday, April 4 — SPACE — Evanston, IL
Friday, April 10 — Lee’s Palace — Toronto, ON
Saturday, April 11 — Lee’s Palace — Toronto, ON
Friday, April 17 — Theatre of The Living Arts — Philadelphia, PA