The Zongo Brigade marches on

The Zongo Brigade marches on

I met Kweku Of Ghana or K.O.G. as he is better known through an old school friend who turns out to be the drummer in his band. I remember sparking up a conversation a few months back with Kweku.  He mentioned he was performing at Hagglers Corner with his band The Allstar Revolution that night – living near by, I thought I would investigate.

I wasn’t entirely prepared for the experience; mid-performance I found myself turning to my friends to say, “I know him, he invited me here!” as if in some geeky way it was going to earn me kudos within my circle.

The music seemed open-minded, I could feel the jazz in there, a hint of soul, a little hip hop, so imagine the impact on this small courtyard stuffed with bodies when a song opened up with a spaced-out instrumental paired with operatic vocals. Strange right? Weird but wonderful. The best thing about the night was that the guy waddled off stage at the end and we had a really down to earth chat.  I was bowled over by his talent and humility.

Fast forward a few months and I caught up with Kweku again to see how he was getting on and to find out a smidge more about this wonderful fella. We rendezvous at the infamous BOK Studios where Kweku was laying down his vocals and Subliminal was pushing the buttons.

The peaceful attitude of the guy is immediate.  Kweku describes himself as a family man with two young boys.  He talks about how he likes to make his children yam and egg sauce, traditional Ghanaian fare.

Describing a frugal childhood in Ghana, where the church was the only place live music could be heard, Kweku shares his thoughts on life.  Although he has a spiritual outlook he found music, not God, in the place of worship.

Nonetheless, there is a tangible spirituality about him and we talk for some time about finding your own way and using intuition as an internal guide.

It’s obvious that music moves him and that Sheffield has provided the roots and soil to grow his talents.  Beginning with the Afrobeats digital sound a couple of years ago, Kweku started playing and recording music with King David and the Riddimtion Sound System in Sheffield – a sound worthy of a tour around festivals that drove him to want to create  and inspire. Says Kewku, ‘They unearthed me’.

‘I played a few acoustic gigs and one of these shows got me booked to play at the O2 in London in front of 10,000 people.

From there I formed the Allstar Revolution, played a couple of good festivals like Y Not festival and Tramlines.  That project had to end and we all had to go back to doing our own thing.’

Kweku describes how he chose to go back to his roots via his guitar, ‘Finding what I could do to push myself by mixing African music with pop, reggae, ska, dub, hiphop and jazz.’

After The Allstar Revolution disbanded Kweku established The Zongo Brigade.  So-named after his home town of Zongo in Ghana. Their first gig was on New Year’s Eve 2013 at Yellow Arch studio to a rapt audience.

‘So we describe our music as Fela Kuti meets Bob Marley while they hang out with James Brown and jam with The Specials.’ He laughs a big deep laugh.

However you wish to describe him, Kweku’s music has to be seen, heard and most importantly felt. He’s made his mark in Sheffield and I feel certain there are great things ahead for this lively individual.

The Zongo Lingo album which will be the first album from the nine piece band and is due out this year.