By 1978, Addis Ababa’s nightlife was facing challenges. The ruling Derg regime imposed curfews, banning citizens from the streets after midnight until 6am. But that didn’t stop some people from dancing and partying thorough the night. Bands would play from evening until daybreak and people would stay at the clubs until curfew was lifted in the morning.
One key denizen of Addis’ musical golden age, Hailu Mergia, was preparing a follow up to his seminal Tche Belew LP with the famed Walias Band. It was the band’s only full-length record and it had been a success. But his Hilton house band colleagues were a bit tied up recording cassettes with different vocalists. Still Mergia, amidst recording and gigs with the Walias, was also eager to make another recording of his instrumental-focused arrangements. So he went to the nearby Ghion Hotel, another upmarket outpost with a popular nightclub. Dahlak Band was the house band at Ghion at the time. Together they made this tape Wede Harer Guzo right there in the club during the band’s afternoon rehearsal meetings, with sessions lasting three days.
“My instrumental music was very in-demand and I could have waited,” Mergia recalls. “But I wanted to have a different kind of sound. I had done several recordings with Walias so this time I needed a different sound.”
Dahlak Band catered to a slightly more youthful, local audiences, while Mergia’s main gig with the Walias at Addis swankiest hotel had a mixed audience that included foreign diplomats and older folks from abroad. Therefore their sets varied included lighter fare during dinnertime and a less rollicking selection of jazz and r&b. Meanwhile Dahlak was known more for the mainly soul and Amharic jams they served up for hours two nights a week to a younger crowd.
When Mergia entered the Ghion hotel nightclub to record this tape he was teaming up with a seasoned band who were particularly suit....... więcej