The best of all possible worlds in World Music terms: uptempo, polyrhythmic, socially conscious (but not pedantic), strikingly melodic, and eminently danceable.
PREVIEW First come the horns, then the bass, an emphatic high hat and a sparkle of percussion, a trill of electric guitar, more brass, and it's on. Thanks to "Shelter," Sila and the Afrofunk Experience's second album Black President (Visila Records, 2009) has a funky kickoff. With inspired grooves that recall the jazzy Afrobeat of standard-bearers both old (Fela Kuti) and new (Lagbaja) and layered with a tireless P-funk aesthetic, the group goes on to represent the best of all possible worlds in World Music terms: uptempo, polyrhythmic, socially conscious (but not pedantic), strikingly melodic, and eminently danceable.
While Sila and the Afrofunk Experience's first album The Funkiest Man in Africa (Visila Records, 2006) explored the musical and social legacies of Fela Kuti, Black President brings it all back home literally to our door step (or our turntable) with a track cautiously celebrating the election of America's first black president ("Mr. President ... the people are hungry for change"). Africa never strays far from the rotation, though. "Shelter" is an examination of the ongoing AIDS epidemic, "I'm So Tired" speaks to the diaspora experience, and "Africa" is sheer Afrobeat magic. The official release party for Black President which is already available online kicks off a busy summer of touring for SF's favorite adopted son Victor Sila and his tightly-knit ensemble. It'll be a challenge to get enough of a Sila fix in a single night to last until the group returns from its travels, but I'm game to try.
SILA AND THE AFROFUNK EXPERIENCE With Fool's Gold, Diego's Umbrella. Sat/30, 9 p.m., $15. Mezzanine, 444 Jessie, SF.(415) 625-8880. www.mezzaninesf.com