Out in California, Big Sur lurks in the American imagination, just far enough from both the Bay Area and Los Angeles to acquire a semi-mythical, semi-mystical reputation for being all cliffs running into impossibly blue seas (and, for some reason, the Henry Miller Library). In such a place you’d hope that the pedestrian concerns of daily life would be left as far away as Big Sur seems to you when your problems are threatening to swallow you. For Brooklyn’s Afrobeat band Zongo Junction, Big Sur is both a place to write a song and an opportunity to make a joke that points back to the ubiquitous security state. Without lyrics, it’s up to you to decide which of these seeming opposites that “Big Sir,” their latest track, reminds you of. You can give it a listen below or on the band’s Bandcamp site.
The product of a 12-hour songwriting marathon in California, “Big Sir” was recorded back in New York, in a single take, on an eight-track. While that could make the band seem like rigid traditionalists, there’s no mistaking Zongo Junction for a Kuti-fronted Afrobeat band. The constituent parts are the same—four horns, keys, guitars, and of course, percussion—and the arrangements are still girded by loping, interlocking rhythm, but Zongo Junction’s shimmering delay pedals drive home the fact that this is a Brooklyn band in 2015. There’s an especially inspired spaced-out interlude around the 5:19 mark, where the guitars seem to run backwards and the drums relent long enough to make their reintroduction all the sweeter.
Zongo Junction takes to the road starting today in the Rocky Mountains before returning to California and popping up back on the East Coast.
7/23– Park City, UT – Mountain Town Music
7/25– Telluride, CO – Fly Me to the Moon Saloon
7/26– Paonia, CO – Paradise Theater
7/28– Santa Fe, NM – Santa Fe Bandstand
7/29– Las Vegas, NV – Brooklyn Bowl
7/30– San Diego, CA – The Hideout
7/31– Los Angeles, CA – El Cid
8/1– San Jose, CA – Cafe Stritch
8/4– Napa, CA – City Winery
8/5– Sacramento, CA – Sol Collective
8/6– Calpine, CA – Sierra Valley Lodge
8/7– Oakland, CA – The New Parish
8/8– Santa Cruz, CA – Moe’s Alley
8/12– Crested Butte, CO – Live From Mt. Crested Butte!
8/25– Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Bowl
9/11– Lancaster, PA – Tellus 360