Jupiter & Okwess (from Africa)

Harlow's and Abstract Entertainment Present

Jupiter & Okwess (from Africa)

With Special Guests

Thu, October 18, 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Harlow's Restaurant and Nightclub

Sacramento, CA

$20.00

This event is 21 and over

Jupiter & Okwess
Jupiter & Okwess
With their second album Kin Sonic, Jupiter and Okwess transcend the Congo’sunexplored musical heritageand dive into a pool of modernity. We’re invited to savour his latest recipe, the Okwess(‘food’ in the Kibunda language) which isthe fruitof all theencounters and influences he has absorbed during his many journeys around the world. It’s a recipe based on perfect alchemy, enrichedby contributions from Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz, violinist Warren Ellis ofNick Cave’s Bad Seeds and Robert del Naja, aka ‘3D’, of Massive Attack. Del Naja’s input comes in the form of a unique and powerful album cover, the fee for which hedecided to donate to an NGO called La Fondation Etoile du Congo de Madame Princesse Kibinda Mariam Rita1, basedin Lemba, the neighbourhood in Kinshasa where Jupiter lives. Rita, who is the daughter of a traditional chieftain, is very attached to her roots, and she’s given herself themission to helphomeless children who live on the streets, especially those of Lemba. Jupiter is the Foundation’s ambassador. Jean-Pierre Bokondji, aka ‘Jupiter’ (the nickname has since become his official first name), was born in Kinshasa on the 16thDecember 1963, three years after the Congowas given its independence. He spent a large part of his childhood and adolescence living in Dar-es-Salam in Tanzania and East Berlin, where his father worked as an attaché at the Congolese embassy. But in 1979, at the age of 17, he left East Germany, returned to Kinshasa andthrew himself into another dimension, the antithesis of the life he’d known until then. Growing up in Germany, Jupiterlistened to the best American soul: James Brown, The Jackson 5, The Temptations and Kool and the Gang. Then, back in the Congo, he discovered the ultra-dominant Congolese rumba style, but also a multitude of other rhythms and styles that vegetate in the shadows of rumba, allstrangely reminiscent of funk, soul and rock. Withthe spark provided by thisapparent complicity between Congolese traditions and Western music, Jupiterdecided to create his own modeof musical expression. Heset about writing his first songs, full oflyrics that question the accepted history of his country and the motives of the people who rule over it. It was a 1The Star of Congo Foundation of Mme Princess Kibinda Mariam Rita
time when the Congo was teetering constantlybetween tyranny and anarchy. Barely 18 years old, he set his sightson a career in music, to the great disappointment of his father who was opposedto anything that might distract him from his studies. When the latter declared his intention to send his sonback to Europe, Jupiterleft the family home and began to live on the streets, sleeping in abandoned houses and earning a few coins as a tam-tam drum player at funerals. That’s how he earned the status of a grade onerebel, as well as his nickname, ‘Jupiter’, which has stuck to him ever since. It was around this time, at the beginning of the 1980s, that he joined the band Famous Black, which laterbecame Bongo Folk before finally settling on the name Okwess. Since then, Okwess has had many line-up changes but always kept the same captain at the helm. In 2006, a documentary called Jupiter’s Dancedirected by Florent de la Tullaye and Renaud Barret revealed this extraordinary personalityto the world, this lanky wading birddressed in a general’s uniform, a sort of ghetto Don Quixote who, in a dilapidated and abandoned environment, has fought stubbornlyagainst the oddsto keep his band alive, using all the arts of tenacity and débrouillardise2.In 2013, the release of the album Hotel ‘Univers’gaveJupitera certain international legitimacy as well asthe opportunity to tour the world several timesover. A few years ago, the French actress and film director Sandrine Bonnaire came to Kinshasa and met Jupiter. She was already atotal fan. It felt logical to invite her to read an extract from the book Bandoki (‘The Sorcerers’) by Zamenga Batukezanga, an African philosopher and authorwith a vivid writing style who thoughlittle known outside the Congo, wasa familiar facein the neighbourhood ofLemba, where he lived and died in 2000. Accompanying thesong ‘Le Temps Passé’ (‘Time Passed’), which waswritten by Okwess’ drummer Montana during his hours of romance and nostalgia, the extract implores the ancestors forhelp withthe arduous task of educating childrenin the harshreality of Congo’s challenging environment. In some ways, by delivering this message, Sandrine tookonthe role of Princess Rita, helper of the children of Lemba. “When you’ve travelled downmany roads, you inevitably makeplenty of false steps. What’s important isto never give up.”To nevergive up...in this country where life expectancy hovers around 50 years. Thanks to the Congo’simmense natural resources, half a century of independence dedicated to the enrichmentof a small handful of people and the impoverishment of everyone else followedon from a colonial era in which the 2A French word meaning ‘hustle’ or ‘making do’.
seizureof naturalwealthwas the only rule. Just like the writing of Zamenga Batukezanga, Jupiter’s lyrics focus on this painful past, and how to overcome it. It’s a discourse inwhichthe truth advances prudently, on tiptoe, thanks in no small part tothe dangers that lie in waitfor those who talk too much. That’s why Jupiter uses storiesand parables to denounceinjustice in the song ‘Bengai Yo’, or to mock a ‘king’ who’s extravagant with other people’s money in the song ‘Benanga’. This kind of prudence could also be called ‘diplomacy’, a concept with which the Bokondji family are onlytoo familiar. Gathered around Jupiterare the Okwessfaithful:Montana (of Staff Benda Bilili) on drums and Yendé on bass, guitarists Eric and Richard and the singer Blaise. Every songon KinSonicpresents its own slice of life, its own bundle of thoughts and reflections, its own singularity. But alsoits own sliceofuniversality, augmented by the violin of Warren Ellis and the keyboards of Damon Albarn. Produced by Marc-Antoine Moreau (Amadou & Mariam, Songhoy Blues) and François Gouverneur, Kin Sonicfinds its voice in the exploration of aheritage that has remained totally hidden until now, and comes to take its place ina contemporary landscape where walls and borders are exploding in the faceof men’syearningto share momentsof beauty andpure madness, all mixed up together.
Venue Information:
Harlow's Restaurant and Nightclub
2708 "J" Street
Sacramento, CA, 95816
http://harlows.com/