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Staff Benda Bilili

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Staff Benda Bilili are a group of Congolese street musicians. They live around the grounds of the zoo in Kinshasa, and play music which is rooted in rumba, with elements of old-school rhythm’n’blues and reggae. The core of the band consists of four senior singers/guitarist, who all disabled (they suffered from poliomyelitis when they were young) and move around in spectacularly customized tricycles. They are backed by a younger rhythm section consisting of ex-sheges, abandoned street kids who were taken under the protection of the older members of the band. The soloist is an 18 year-old boy who plays astounding electric guitar-like solos on a one-stringed lute he designed and built himself out of a tin can.

The album
Entitled Tres Tres Fort, the band’s debut album was released on Crammed Discs in March 2009. It was produced over the course of three years by Crammed’s Vincent Kenis (known for introducing and producing bands such as Konono No1, Kasai Allstars, and for the Congotronics series). Kenis recorded the band mostly in the Kinshasa zoo. The album also contains four of Barret & de la Tullaye’s videos

Website links: http://www.myspace.com/staffbendabilili

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