doors at 7:30pm
$20 day of show
$2 off for SPACE members
The Ethiopian supergroup from Addis Ababa returns to Maine!
Qwanqwa is a supergroup of musicians from the baddest bands of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Brought together by a shared passion for the power of Ethiopian music, this 5-piece shines with an experimentalism and virtuosity based in deeply rooted traditions. With swirling masinko (one-stringed fiddle), wah-wah-violin, bass krar boom, and the unstoppable rhythm of heavy kebero (goat-skin drum) beats, powerful traditional lead African diva vocals, Qwanqwa keeps the people wrapped in celebratory attention. After making a splash at world-renowned festivals Roskilde and WOMEX and three successful European tours under their belt, this world-traveling ensemble is returning to the US after their first MacArthur Foundation-backed debut tour in 2022.
Qwanqwa draws inspiration from East Africa regions of Ethiopia and beyond. Delving deep into regional beats and moods, the repertoire ranges from the trance-like songs of the Eritrean tribe of Blen to Somalian rock numbers to Mahmoud Ahmed sing-a-longs. The music is characterized by tight arrangements and extended improvisation. The live show ranges from intimate to wild, from whispery conversations to full blown rock show, with psychedelic sounds that are hard to believe come from traditional harp and violin. It is driving, powerful, and different than anything else coming out of Ethiopia in this current Golden Age of Ethiopian music.
The ensemble was founded in 2012 by American violinist Kaethe Hostetter, who first worked in Ethiopian music as a founding member of critically acclaimed Sub Pop recording artists Debo Band. Since relocating to Addis in 2009, she has participated in numerous exploratory and professional projects, as she honed her sound and immersed herself further into the culture of her surroundings. In this sense, Qwanqwa, the Amharic word for “language,” is a project creating dialogues between cultures.
Current members of Qwanqwa are Endris Hassen (masinko), Kaethe Hostetter (violin), Bubu Teklemariam (bass krar), Selamnesh Zemene (vocalist), and Misale Legesse (kebero). They have appeared internationally with Getachew Mekuria, The EX, Thurston Moore, Fred Frith, Butch Morris, Debo Band, Nile Project, Fendika, Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulatu Astatke, Addis Acoustic, Ethiocolor, Atse Teodros, Mohammed “Jimmy” Mohammed, and Imperial Tiger Orchestra, and have played stages from Lincoln Center to Bonnaroo, Jazzfest (New Orleans), Moers Festival, Roskilde, WOMEX, WOMAD and more.
An integral and constant presence in Addis Ababa nightlife scene, Qwanqwa has released three albums: Volume One (2014), Volume Two (2015), and Volume Three (2020).