African World Festival Sunday, July 17 in Detroit -SEUN KUTI & EGYPT 80 Fired Up

SEUN KUTI & EGYPT 80 All Fired Up as they Head to Detroit
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SEUN KUTI & EGYPT 80 All Fired Up as they Head to Detroit for African World Festival Sunday, July 17—but it’s no Vacation!

If anybody wondered, leading Afrobeat exponent Seun Kuti’s idea of a great vacation is a STAYcation.  “The one place that I like being is with my family back home and that’s why I don’t really travel for holidays. My wife goes on holidays with my daughter without me and they hate that, but for me, when I’m traveling all the time, a holiday means being in one place and not having to travel. So when I get home and my wife is like, ‘I want us to go to Tahiti,’ I’m like, ‘You know what? No, I’m done moving, I’m not moving one inch!’”

So, after a pandemic-induced break—much like every other performing and recording artist out there, SEUN KUTI & EGYPT 80 head out on tour with mixed feelings; missing the road, but missing home, too. Having just gotten a tattoo in London-a significant chest piece reading “Rebel,” he says in a recent rooftop chat, “We’ve never had this sort of three-year hiatus before, so it feels like we’re touring for first time again. We find excitement in every show and can’t wait to get to the next one, to get on stage and show these fans what we can do. It’s been really exciting doing it again.”

New Afrika Shrine, Lagos Photo Credit Eddie Williams

And when Seun tours, he tours BIG. The Kuti family scion Seun Kuti and an eight -piece band started in the UK June 1st in Leeds, has stopped at major festivals like Glastonbury (but skipping Morocco’s Jazzablanca in protest of recent migrant deaths in Melila at the Spanish border) and traversed the UK, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and France. Seun Kuti and Egypt 80 were a late addition to the  African World Festival In Detroit, Michigan On July 17th, taking place at The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, 315 E Warren Ave, Detroit, MI 48201. Tickets available here. They wrap up in the US with the Waltons’ Format Festival in Bentonville, Arkansas, The Big Climate Thing in New York and the tenth annual Desert Daze at Lake Perris, CA on September 30th, performing on a bill that includes Tame Impala and Chicano Batman.

Seun’s coy about favorite places besides home: “Let me put it this way, I am happy to be in certain places when I’m in certain regions. When I’m in the United States I love being in LA, when I’m in the UK, I love being in London, when I’m in mainland Europe I love being in Paris. So that’s how it is for me, there’s not one place.” Familiarity does breed a smidgen of contempt, though. “A lot of bonding happens with you and your band when you’re on the road and trapped in the same space most of the time. By the end of three months you don’t want to see their faces for a while, but we’ve missed that ability to be in each other’s business.”

Detroit fans will be able to sample the full range of the band’s repertoire which includes classic anthems and songs from their catalogue—including the most recent Grammy®-nominated album Black Times. He’s debuted two brand-new songs from their upcoming album that were recorded live at Clout Studio—the legendary premises of Cool FM 96.9 on Victoria Island in Lagos, Nigeria. The tracks, titled “Love and Revolution” and “Emi Aluta,” were released by The Orchard on June 24th, and are available now on Apple Music, Spotify, and Soundcloud. 

New Afrika Shrine, Lagos Photo Credit Eddie Williams

Like his father, Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, Seun’s music has an ability to convey both the weight of the world and the exuberance of its people’s spirit, in an eminently danceable format. Seun continues and expands on his dad’s tradition of fusing music and politics into something transcendent and revolutionary, in every sense of the word. But there’s always a message. “I’m already playing some of these songs live, so I don’t mind sharing. There’s a song called ‘T.O.P.’ The acronym is ‘TOP,’ but it stands for ‘things over people,’ which for me is what I experience as the relationship between the elite—the system—and the people. The propaganda and the narrative that we live in an era where property rights are human rights, where we are supposed to value things and money over people. 

Few escape Kuti’s rapier of sonic agitation. “We live in a world where even though the rainforest is being destroyed, nobody cares. People are being killed, and nobody cares. But we see a lot of protection for corporations who don’t want their feelings hurt and because corporations are people now.”

SEUN KUTI & EGYPT 80 All Fired Up as they Head to Detroit

Lucky for the rest of us, music took the dismal science’s place. “As a kid I was classically trained up until grade five. After that I started playing the saxophone and I did my exams in music before going to the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts and getting a diploma in Popular Music and Sound Technology.” He started playing in Egypt 80 when he was nine.

But when the tour’s over, don’t expect to find Seun on Southern California’s beaches. He concludes, “I say to my family, ‘Come on tour with me!’ They’re like, ‘That is not a holiday.’” He agrees. “Just stay at home! Make hot cocoa, turn on the TV. Everybody huddled up, not having to move. No call times, you know?”

Here’s the current tour schedule after Detroit:

7/17African World FestivalDetroit, MI
7/22Paleo FestivalNyon, Switzerland
7/23Trasimeno Blues FestivalTrasimeno, Italy
8/5Dexmantal FestivalAmsterdam, NL
8/6Festival Du Bout Du MondeCrozon, France
8/27Moovin Festival Manchester, UK
9/16City WineryWashington, DC
9/17The Big Climate ThingQueens, NY
9/24Format FestivalBentonville, AK
9/30Desert Daze XMoreno Valley, CA
10/10La Philharmonie de ParisParis, France
10/12La LaterieStrasbourg, France
10/13La Bouef sur le ToitLons Le Saunier, France
10/14L’UsineIstres, France
10/16Le Rocher de PalmerBordeaux, France
10/18Le SplendidLille, France

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