When Ethiopia’s Walias Band toured North America in 1981, most of the group jumped ship, eager to escape the “Red Terror” that ruled their homeland. Among them was keyboardist Hailu Mergia, who joined the Ethiopian expat population in Washington DC as a taxi driver, a job he still maintains between gigs. With the rediscovery of Addis Ababa’s 1970s “golden age”, for which the soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch’s 2005 film Broken Flowers proved a major catalyst, musicians like Mergia and Mulatu Astatke have rebuilt their careers.
Lala Belu is the former’s first album in 15 years, and proves worth the wait. […] CONTINUE READING