New York City, New York, USA

Afrodelic dance music with roots in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and the East Village. An energetic blend of guitar, African xylophone and mbira with lush female vocal harmonies and deep, hypnotic grooves.


TIMBILA blazes ecstatic African rock with an East Village edge. The trance of African spirit possession merges with the trance of free-spirited head-bangers. The surreal buzzing beauty of timbila (Chopi xylophone, Mozambique) and hypnotic dream melodies of mbira (Shona thumb piano, Zimbabwe) soar with stinging guitar riffs and sassy celestial vocals in grooves that are deeply funky, fierce and danceable. No other band sounds like TIMBILA.

TIMBILA [tim-BEE-lah] reinvents some of the most beautiful music traditions of southern Africa, with an East Village edge. The band started when Nora Balaban met Banning Eyre and Dirck Westervelt in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1997. Balaban, a veteran of CBGB’s punk and San Francisco’s “worldbeat” scene in the 1980s, was studying mbira (Shona thumb piano) and timbila (Chopi xylophone) with masters. Eyre, a writer and producer for public radio’s Afropop Worldwide, was playing guitar, and Westervelt banjo and bass, with Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited, Zimbabwe’s top traditional pop band. Louisa Bradshaw has been a vocalist with the band through its many incarnations over the past eight years. 

Bill Ruyle, percussionist extraordinaire, and a recent convert to the seductive world of Shona music, plays drums and percussion. And, TIMBILA has recently added an unusual element to the mix, Rima Fand on violin. Fand plays lines drawn from mbira and timbila parts, improvises like a fiend, and adds her voice to Balaban’s and Bradshaw’s rich vocal harmonies. The surreal buzzing beauty of timbila and hypnotic dream melodies of mbira soar with stinging guitar riffs and celestial vocals in grooves that are deeply funky, fierce and danceable. No other band sounds like TIMBILA.  


The Trader

Written By: Music by Nora Balaban,Lyrics by Jean Zimmerman, Lyrics by Jean Zimmerman

I sold my baby to the swamp monsters
I sold my mother to a hall of mirrors
I sold my father to Detroit's burning air
I sold my sister to velvet codpiece
I sold my brother to a hive of bees
I sold my best friend to a red hat with feathers


I sold my childhood sweetheart to the sound of spring wind
I sold myself down the river to return
I sold my song to a lamb
I sold my husband to a hand of gin
I sold my love to the sonic boom
I sold my pride to a blue ox
I sold my heart to the roman amphitheatre
I sold my feet to a ragwoman in a box
I sold my breasts to wild men in Borneo
I sold my dreams to a solemn audience


Written By: Jean Zimmerman -lyrics

It could be anywhere
Night holds you in her mouth
Im sleepwalking

From above bodies flash like minnows in pools
Oh how they glide at the edge of the pool
Hair falls like a dark blade along her back
They step out of their skins and into the black
They sink into cold pools and awake

Haunted Thing

Written By: Lisa Mednick - lyrics

Stalked by love I never had and never lost
You hang on my memory like Spanish moss
Hunted down in corners by love I never knew
Hunted down by the memory of you


Like wild creatures frozen in locomotives light
Something vicious got me in its sights
Two drunken sailors passing in a heavy mist
I was not prepared for days like this


Ready to move at any given sign
You are barely a whisper since I stepped over the line
Never raised a fist we went down without a fight
Pockets full of change noone I can pay to make it right


Im gone

Written By: Nora Balaban,Bob Holman, Bob Holman

Im gone
Sitting in the Air
All gone All gone
You know theres meaning to the market , so how come I'm still hungry?
Each heart wants to find itself alone, then find a rhyme and go

Each word wants to write itself to make a dance that dances
Each sound wants to be heard a bird its wings in balance

Whats on your mind now mystery
I cannot help your subtlety
Enough already with the doubts
Theres too much happening get it out

The old song just wont stick around
Cant keep the wind upon the ground
Its all about the memory
My friend the walking memory

Like the wind disrupts the scene
You'll remember everything
Not the rain and not the sky
Same old story returns to try

Im gone


Written By: Nora Balaban

These word were written based on the few Chopi phrases I learned while in Mozambique studying Timbila.

Nilevile (Im drunk)
Nikarare (Im tired)
Ulevile (You're drunk)
Nikarare (Im tired)

Nabonga kunininga mati (Thank you for giving me water)
Nabongo Nibongile (Thank you Thank you)