From Nairobi with love

In case more proof was needed of the weightiness of our upcoming presidential election, Nairobi-based roots-rock band Extra Golden has a song called “Obama.” That’s Naiborbi, Africa.

Okay, I don’t know what the lyrics (performed in either Luo or Swahili, I’m not certain which) say, and it is from the group’s 2007 release. But still. And yet this possible championing of our Democratic presidential nominee (click here to learn about the band’s support of Obama) pales in the face of Extra Golden’s vocal intensity, driving rhythms and the intoxicating blend of fuzzy rock guitars and traditional grooves. Truly, this band warrents the “extra” in its name.

The band was formed in 2004 in the Buru Buru neighborhood of Nairobi. Founding members Ian Eagleson, Alex Minoff and Otieno Jagwasi sought common ground for their songs, adding pre-recorded drum tracks and mixing in a make-shift studio. The untimely death of Otieno served as the catalyst for Eagleson and Minoff to take the next step, which eventually resulted in that debut album, Ok-Oyot System being released on Chicago’s Thrill Jockey label.

Critics have largely hailed that effort and the followup, 2007’s Hera Ma Nono, though there is some debate among world musicologists as to the purity and authenticity of this particular brew of influences. Offerings range from tribal-flavored trance numbers to radio-ready English-language soul-rock, like the song “It’s Not Easy” (delivered in a goose bump-inducing falsetto). But fans, once introduced to Extra Golden’s veritable charms and considerable heartfelt talent, aren’t likely to care about the band’s pedigree. Oh, and after their June 10 Grey Eagle stop, they’ll be playing Bonnaroo. Take that, nay-sayers.

Show time is 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 10. Adama Dembele (of the Afromotive) & Ensemble Djebeso open, along with Selector Timothy. $8 advance, $10 day of show. Info: 232-5800.

—Alli Marshall, A&E reporter

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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