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  • Writer's pictureStevie Connor

Experimental Ethiopian Supergroup QWANQWA Returns to American Stages In March

By Stevie Connor. Photo Credit: James Barry Knox.

Ethiopian supergroup QWANQWA return to North America this spring, with the much-anticipated follow-up to their marathon, three month debut tour in 2022. This year's tour is equally ambitions; spanning nine weeks in March through May, 39 cities, both coasts, and everything in between -- with more dates TBA (see full tour lineup below). 

QWANQWA is a five-piece improvisatory ensemble based in Addis Ababa, dedicated to furthering Ethiopia’s unique string traditions. The group brings together some of the most accomplished musicians in the country; creating a space to explore new sounds and break the rules in an otherwise conservative musical culture.  

QWANQWA plays an array of Ethiopian traditional instruments, and consists of Endris Hassen on mesenko (one string fiddle), Bubu Teklemariam on bass krar (Ethiopian lyre), Selamnesh Zemene on vocals, Misale Legesse on kebero (goat skin drum), and Kaethe Hostetter on 5 string electric violin. Together they’ve forged a new sound rooted in centuries-old traditions — yet exploratory, open, and future-facing. 

QWANQWA has released three critically-acclaimed albums -- Volume One (2014) and Volume Two (2015); and Volume Three  (2020) -- and rocked audiences on two major European tours with knockout shows at the Roskilde and WOMEX festivals in 2016 and 2017. Members of QWANQWA have performed with some of the biggest names in Ethiopian music and beyond: Getachew Mekuria, Mahmoud Ahmed, Mulatu Astatke, The EX, Thurston Moore, Fred Frith, Butch Morris, Tomeika Reid, and more. 

QWANQWA Spring 2024 Tour Dates

3/31 - Providence World Music Fest, Providence, RI

4/3 - Roulette, Brooklyn, NY (Hear In Now collaboration)

4/5 - The Falcon, Marlborough, NY

4/6 - The Blue Room/City Space, Easthampton, MA

4/7 - Space Gallery, Portland, ME

4/8 - Tinder Hearth, Brooksville, ME

4/9 - The Half Moon, Hudson, NY

4/10 - Midway Café, Boston, MA

4/11 - Creative Alliance, Baltimore, MD

4/12 - Barns of Rose Hill, Berryville, VA

4/13 - Solar Myth, Philadelphia, PA

4/14 - Washington DC: TBA

4/15 - Webster’s Bookstore Cafe, State College, PA

4/16 - Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH

4/17 - Bottlerocket Social Hall, Pittsburgh, PA

4/18 - Do 317, Indianapolis, IA

4/19 - Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis, MN

4/20 - Bootleg Hill Honey Meads, Davenport, IA

4/21 - Crossroads, Bishop Hill, IL

4/24 - Chicago, IL: TBA

4/25 - McNeese State University, Lake Charles, LA

4/27 - 4/28 - Festival International de Louisiane, Lafayette, LA

4/30 -5/4 - Worlds of Music, Buffalo, Wyoming

5/8 - The Shakedown, Bellingham, WA

5/9 - High Dive, Seattle, WA

5/10 - LaurelThirst Public House, Portland, OR

5/11 - Turn! Turn! Turn!, Portland, OR

5/12 - WOW Hall, Eugene, OR

5/13 - Miniplex, Arcata CA

5/15 - Zanzi, Oakland, CA

5/16 - Yerba Buena Gardens Fest, San Francisco, (Day)

5/16 - Kuumbwa Jazz, Santa Cruz, CA (Evening)

5/17 - Corazón, Topanga Canyon, CA

5/18 - Joshua Tree Music Fest, Joshua Tree, CA

5/19 - Zebulon, Los Angeles, CA

5/21 - San Diego, CA: TBA

5/22 - Tijuana Jazz Club, Tijuana, Mexico

5/23 - Sahara West Library, Las Vegas, NV

5/24 - Winchester Cultural Center, Las Vegas, NV



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