Gig Seeker Pro


Portland, Oregon, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | INDIE

Portland, Oregon, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2012
Duo World Blues




"Canadafrica - Where's the one?"

Canadafrica Where's the One?


Here's some real fusion for you.

Canadian Mike Stevens, harmonica player par excellence, and Okaidja Afroso of Ghana, on vocals and various percussion and stringed instruments, use very spare lyrics as foundations on which to build an astonishing array of rhythms and song lines.

Opener Abifao, for instance, is a small lullaby played on harmonica and finger snaps, but it swings on those bare lyrics and superb instrumentation. What a track.

Then there's the lowdown and wild harp playing of Mercurachrome Blues. Afroso comes in with a gutbucket vocal that groans the good and evil of the title medicine. A seven-line song that smokes.

These guys sing about romantic breakups, war through the eyes of a child soldier, living through dark times, and the wonderful folk wisdom of Empty Barrel - it makes the most noise - just like some people's mouths. Listen to Stevens sing through his harp on this one, and to the gyil (Ghanaian xylophone) and Marine Band diatonic harmonica on Keeping the Mosquitoes Away. Wow. - Bill Robertson


Still working on that hot first release.



Okaidja Afroso:
Okaidja was born into a family of singers and songwriters. His crippled uncle was the towns notorious composer who spared no one with the songs he wrote about life in the township of Kokrobitey, a small fishing village on the west coast of Ghana. Okaidjas mother was a colorful lead singer in her spiritual church. Her powerful songs of praise earned her the name the spiritual singer. As a young boy Okaidja sang while he worked on fishing boats. The fishermen would sing a cappella songs as they worked, and Okaidja passed the long days learning the songs of the great sea.

At the age of 19, Okaidja was accepted as a professional dancer for the prestigious Ghana Dance Ensemble at the University of Ghanas Institute of African Studies. He became well known for his energetic stage presence and excelled in his performances of the Ga fetish dances. The Ghana Dance Ensemble gave Okaidja the opportunity to study with the best teachers in the country.
In 1997 Okaidja toured the Unites States with the Ensemble. Later on that year he traveled solo throughout Germany teaching Ghanaian music and dance before moving to the U.S to join Okropong, a traditional Ghanaian music and dance group directed by Obo Addy.

Okaidjas career shifted as he began to do extensive research into the connections between Ghanaian music and the music of the African Diaspora. Out of this passionate inquiry, his band Okaidja & Shokoto was formed. Through Shokoto, Okaidja creates music that draws from multiple cultural influences from the past and the present. The result is a dynamic fusion of traditional and contemporary African rhythms with the diverse music of the African Diaspora. After dancing and playing percussion for so many years, Okaidja followed his souls calling and taught himself how to play the guitar.
He spent countless hours trying to give voice to all of the melodies in his head through this new medium. By learning completely on his own, through his relentless desire to play his unique style of music, he inadvertently created a guitar style that is so distinct that many accomplished guitarists tell him to stay away from taking lessons so that he does not lose his pure, inimitable sound.
The guitar brought out a different sound and inspired Okaidja to write songs unlike anything he had created before. His album, Messenger, reflects the journey that he has been on as a messenger, carrying communication between the traditional world of his native homeland and the contemporary landscape of this modern-day. Okaidjas songs tell the stories of his people and follow their journeys through the disparate lands where they were scattered. It is an album that speaks to the soul.

Mike Stevens:

Mike Stevens entertains audiences in a unique, exciting and unforgettable style. A regular on the Grand Ole Opry, Mike is a phenomenal harmonica player who has backed everyone in the bluegrass world from Bill Munroe to Jim and Jesse to the Lewis Family to Raymond McLain.

Roy Acuff was so fascinated by Mikes entertaining ability that he was known to make special trips to the stage to watch him perform. His performance highlights include a number of appearances on the GRAND OLE OPRY; television appearances on TNN (The Nashville Network), and live performances across Canada, the United States, the Bahamas, Mexico, as well as Japan. In 1994 he was named a Kentucky Colonel, the highest honour given by the State of Kentucky.

In 1990, he recorded Harmonica, his first solo album, which was given the Recording of the Year award by the Central Canada Bluegrass Association. In 1992 he recorded Blowin up a Storm which achieved the Pinecastle Recording Co.s accolade for Best Selling Recording of 1992.

His studio credits include recording sessions for Benson, CEO Records, Turquoise Records, Flying Fish recording projects for Jim & Jesse, as well as other Nashville sessions.

Mikes musical versatility enables him to work in a number of different musical venues. His performance schedule includes bluegrass dates with Jim & Jesse, and/or The Lewis Family; harmonica workshops, solo performances, and dates with Raymond McLain.

Proclaimed as an innovator of Bluegrass Harmonica, Mike has written several definitive harmonica instruction booklets published by Centerstream Publishing and distributed worldwide by Hal Leonard Distributing.

His new album, due out on the Borealis label in the fall of 2000, will feature original and traditional Canadian fiddle tunes played on the harmonica. This recording marks the first time any harmonica player has undertaken this challenging and exciting repertoire. 





Band Members