Remember those adolescent band geeks who played during halftime at football games, and maybe practiced on the side with the high school orchestra? They didn't all join ska bands, thank God. A handful of these youths met after school, subsisting on a rarified diet of only the finest James Brown funk and Fela Kuti Afrobeat. Soon, they became the core of the Budos Band, the funkiest group of youngsters on Staten Island, and proved that Antibalas isn't the only Afrobeat game in the Five Boroughs.
Originally "Los Barbudos" ("the bearded ones," until somebody shaved), the members of the all-instrumental Budos Band total 11, including an organist, three horn players and a percussion section that uses every readily available African and Latin implement. Carving out its niche in a subgenre called "Afro-soul," the band intersperses sparse funk rhythms with swelling horn lines and a relentlessly danceable groove -- essentially the modern pan-African answer to what Fela created in the '60s.
The Budos clan has become central to the operations of its label, Daptone Records: Two of its members are also part of the label's flagship act, soul providers Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, which appeared on the Conan O'Brien show and backed up hot neo-soul ingénue Amy Winehouse on the hit "Rehab."
In between those gigs, Budos has released two sizzling albums on Daptone, including Budos Band II, which came out last week. From the furious brass soloing that punctuates the primal Afrobeat pulse on "Budos Rising" to the airy flute lines that rise above the funk workout "Adenji," it's a nonstop party with a positive cross-cultural vibe. The music wordlessly speaks for itself; whether you caught the recent Antibalas and Nomo shows or this is your first-ever experience with Afrobeat, you're sure to clearly receive the message.
The Budos Band with DJs JMalls and Justin Hopper. 9 p.m. Wed., Aug. 15. Ava Lounge, 126 S. Highland Ave., East Liberty. $7. 412-363-8277
- Budos rising: The Budos Band