November 21, 2017
NYU Washington, DC and the Embassy of the Republic of Malta in Washington, DC were pleased to present *etnika, Malta's foremost roots band.
Malta’s rich cultural DNA lies in the crossroads of Europe and Northern Africa, where distinct Musical and artistic traditions have shaped the people for millennia, and given rise to unique technology, sounds, and myths. Sicilian songs and Semitic language merge with distinctly Maltese instruments to provide a unique and exhilarating picture of Malta’s history and culture. The Embassy was thrilled to welcome *etnika to Washington DC, where they highlighted exciting and authentic Mediterranean music and dance.
This concert was funded by a grant through the Cultural Diplomacy Fund, an initiative by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which seeks to promote Maltese culture and traditions abroad, and give audiences a chance to learn more about our unique island.
Some 15 years ago a small but enthusiastic group of friends on the Mediterranean island of Malta succeeded in achieving the unachievable: to almost singlehandedly revive the lost Maltese roots music genre.
"The band who are single-handedly spearheading the renaissance in Maltese roots music" - Jon Lusk (froots magazine)
The group that was to be called etnika followed a trail of fascinating archival and field research, unearthing and rescuing long forgotten instruments, exotic melodies and genres from the verge of extinction. The hardest work however was to infuse new life into these dusty treasures, to reinvent a fresh sound and provide a relevant contestant within the contemporary context. The unlikely yet irresistible result was enchanting and at the same time it challenged people’s perception of their own musical identity, turning the tide toward a newly found national pride that soon made etnika an instant success.
Always an unlikley mix of characters, now in this reduced and streamlined setup, the quirkiness of the group becomes acute: oud and bijambo (jews harp), Maltese flute and flamenco footwork, double bass and maltese lullabies, the enchanting melancholy echoes over complex rhythms, old Maltese instruments find their way into the sizzling current soundscape on a fascinating musical journey of Malta and the Mediterranean.
Expect a few detours, expect the unexpected, this a port-cabaret band has a big heart.
Alison Galea: voice, keys, electric guitar
Andrew Alamango: electric guitars, oud, tambur, żummara, backing vocals
Walter Vella: tenor & baritone sax, flute & alto flute, flejguta
Oliver Degabriele: double & electric bass, keys, bass synths, backing vocals
Andrej Vujicic: cajón, katuba, bijambo, tambur, żafżafa, kalimba, typewriter, body percussion, backing vocals
Francesca Grima: footwork on wood & pastizzi tray, body percussion