Debo Band is an 11-member group led by Ethiopian-American saxophonist Danny Mekonnen and fronted by charismatic vocalist Bruck Tesfaye. Since its inception in 2006, the band has won rave reviews for its groundbreaking take on Ethiopian pop music (think Ethiopiques), which incorporates traditional scales and vocal styles alongside American soul and funk rhythms and instrumentation reminiscent of Eastern European brass bands. Debo have toured Ethiopia twice, appearing at both the Ethiopian Music Festival in Addis Ababa and Sauti Za Busara in Zanzibar, the largest music festival in East Africa. In North America they’ve shared stages with Gogol Bordello, Amadou & Mariam, Grupo Fantasma, The Family Stone, and Ethiopian great Tilahun Gessesse.
Recent and upcoming performances include the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Bumbershoot, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, The Kennedy Center, Montreal Jazz Festival, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, South by Southwest, globalFEST 2012 at Webster Hall, Joe’s Pub, and World Music Festival: Chicago.Their self-titled debut for Sub Pop / Next Ambiance was produced by Thomas “Tommy T” Gobena of Gogol Bordello and features album art by critically-renowned painter Julie Mehretu.
"Albums like this, which dice up and recombine musical traditions, so often run the risk of being more interesting than good —fascinating to study, but not much fun to listen to. Everything here, though, feels strangely organic and effortlessly joyful. Some will surely hear it and go scrambling back to research the original Ethiopian music at its foundation. But more will simply let it wash over them and get swept up in the party." - SPIN
“A different archival impulse paid off for Debo Band, a Boston group devoted to the Ethiopian funk of the late 1960s and ’70s: fierce, jagged, complex and galvanizing music. With a beefy horn section, biting violins and a lead singer with a convincing Ethiopian quaver, the group brought back a live version of a style that was never recorded as vividly.” – The New York Times
"Debo Band is charged up on a beguiling mix of riotous energy and sinuous swing" - NPR First Listen
"It's not an easy feat to pay tribute and transcend that same tribute simultaneously, but over the course of their debut, this band manages the trick." - Pitchfork