Hailu Mergia and the Dahlak Band - Wede Harer Guzo
Sometime during the summer of 2020 we reached the end of some album we were listening to when Spotify went rogue and bestowed the title track of this glorious record upon our ears. I hate to say it but those creepy algorithms really do work and in this case I wasn’t the least bit put off by the intrusiveness of a distant supercomputer knowing better than I what it is that I should be listening to. No, in this case I was actually grateful for this intervention by our digital overlords for holy moly this album is outta site! Making music in Addis Ababa in 1978, the year this was recorded, was challenging to say the least. The city was living under a strict curfew, imposed by the Derg regime, that lasted from midnight to 6am. That, however, did not stop the people from dancing! Instead the clubs stayed full until 6am when the curfew ended. Keyboardist Hailu Mergia was a major player in the Addis scene at this time. He played mainly with the renowned Walias Band at the Hilton - fanciest hotel in town at the time - playing for the upper class, out of towners, ambassadors and the like. Mergia was looking to record an instrumental record of traditional Ethiopian songs but his Walias backup band was busy recording with other local singers at the time. Mergia instead recorded Wede Harer Guzo with the Dahlak Band - the house band at the Ghion Hotel down the street - which attracted a younger, hipper crowd. They recorded the tracks in the afternoons at the hotel over a three day period. The album was released on tape by a local record store and eventually lost in obscurity until. Lost, that is, until Mergia sent his one copy to the good folks at Awesome Tapes From Africa who were unaware that the album even existed. How lucky we humans are that this lone recording made it through the mail safe and sound! -Will Pratt 10/4/2021
Teshome Gemechu - Gedeo, Ethiopia
Teshome Gemechu is an amazing coffee. It is every single year, which is why we bring it back time and again. It has been so reliably good that we make room for it on our menu before we even taste it. Smallholder farmers in Gedeb grow the 74110 varietal, which traces its roots to the cloud forests of Illubabor (the birthplace of coffee), as well as Dega and Wolisho varietals. The farmers bring their cherry to the Teshome Gemechu washing station where it's sorted and washed. Most of these farmers have small semi-forest lots or trees from their gardens, and bringing their coffee to this washing station offers them an opportunity to make more money for the high quality cherries they grow.