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All Aboard The Zongo Express! | the afrobeat mesmerizers rip up higher ground

Photography by Sam Balling

After over 30 shows this summer, Zongo Junction was stoked to return to Burlington and storm Higher Ground to open for Toubab Krewe. The Brooklyn-based group shares similar loves of polyrhythms and old school grooves to jam over as Asheville, North Carolina’s Toubab Krewe, but while the latter dips into surf-rock and southern zydeco, Zongo’s sound is purist, pulling from the instrumentation and orchestration of afrobeat originators. They also dive into more jazz-driven build-ups and funky twists, but with so many members, including a five-piece horn section, they are able to sew layers together beautifully.

For their first show at Higher Ground, Zongo pulled out tracks from their LP Thieves, a critically acclaimed collection of songs for the afrobeat lover, as well as anyone into the jam scene.

During the show, the players encourage one another, smile, and slowly get into their set, feeling out the energy and ending powerfully, which is saying a lot due to how much traveling they’ve done. Afterward, the boys hang around, sell their one hundred percent recycled material CDs, T-shirts, and chat with people. Good natured and friendly, Zongo lives up to the sound of their music- a fistful of vibes, grooves, and smarts.

Their tour is taking them south of Vermont, through their native New York, down the east coast, and then this winter they’re heading west. Check out their tour and hop the Zongo train.


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