Gig Seeker Pro


Northampton, Massachusetts, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016

Northampton, Massachusetts, United States
Established on Jan, 2016
Band World Rock




"Zikina Live At The Grid: Many Rivers Run Through It"

Music is, in many respects, the confluence of culture and sound. In a modern context where borders are little more than ether across space and communication is instantaneous, there’s a fluidity to the range of cultures and musical influences we can encounter without ever leaving our couch. But bringing those influences together to create an authentic musical experience is a delicate proposition.
Music comes from the marrow: From the earth we walk to the food we eat and the stories we tell, down to things like the pulsing of the cicadas in the heat at day’s end, all lend a rhythm to our lives and a way of seeing the world that reveals itself in sonic landscapes. Its easy to recognize the deep culture that emanates from the likes of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ravi Shankar, Cesaria Evora or Ali Farka Touré. But blending those kinds of influences and distilling them down into a unique sound is something of a high wire act if you don’t want to come off sounding derivative. That’s the territory that Zikina inhabits naturally.
Music comes from the marrow: From the earth we walk to the food we eat and the stories we tell, down to things like the pulsing of the cicadas in the heat at day’s end, all lend a rhythm to our lives and a way of seeing the world that reveals itself in sonic landscapes.
The band’s music bears some of the hallmarks of what was once called “World Music” for lack of a better category for all those things that hint of somewhere besides the US. But its hybrid sounds point to a deeper identity that begins with their name: The Kiswahili word “Muziki” means music, and “Ina” is the word for the number four in Rukiiga-Runyankole, one of the languages of Uganda where the group’s Gideon Ampeire grew up. It translates to “musical quartet.” Beyond the frontier of name, you know something’s up just by the handmade instruments that Gideon lays on the floor around him when they play. They’re not your stock store-boughts and they tell you right away that there’s a little thinking outside the box going on here.

An adungu (top left), a kalimba (top right) and an enanga, all traditional Ugandan musical instruments made by hand by Gideon Ampeire.
“Every evening, all the children in (my) family gathered together to listen to my grandfather play our traditional story telling instrument, the enanga (an oval-shaped, plucked trough zither with one string looped 7–9 times),” Gideon said of growing up in southwestern Uganda. “I was fascinated by his technique, the way he rested the instrument on his lap, the manner he used both of his hands, his left and right fingertips plucking the strings and sometimes taping the soundboard. At the same time, he sang songs of long ago that celebrated reigns of kings (Abakama), ancient spirits (ABachwezi), and recited poetic epics stories (ekevungo).”
That epic storytelling quality seems to pervade much of the music such as songs like Gwamunyoni off their intro album: Mike Cardozo’s clean, stripped- down guitar calls like a bird of prey across a far void, bridged by Gideon’s kalimba, a thumb piano with metal tines that he made himself and chimes like acoustic glitter in a kind of a call and response, what Mike calls “conversational interplay.” The dialogue between between the two comes on top of the deliberately plodding jungle romp base of Roston Kirk and Nate Ash-Morgan’s drums and rattles. The pace and the space between notes is as much a presence in the music as the instruments themselves and there’s an expansiveness and lurking that tells a story of climbing life’s mountains and reaching heights we never thought we could achieve.
“That music totally opened my eyes to new levels of complexity with rhythm.” — Mike Cardozo
While Mike’s parents are from Zanzibar and Kenya, he said he wasn’t really preoccupied with African music because their real influences were the British Empire and India. Then he studied music from Ghana under Abraham Adzenyah while at Wesleyan (which Gideon had studied as well), which revealed an entirely new world of musical possibilities to blend with the jazz, rock and funk that he had been into before.
“That music totally opened my eyes to new levels of complexity with rhythms,” Mike said. “And once I had that framework, I was able gain more from listening to new types of music, mostly from West Africa with artists like Fela Kuti and Vieux Farka Touré.”

Mike Cardozo, Gideon Ampeire, Kade Parkin and Roston Kirk.
Mike’s intricate guitar and Gideon’s varied instrumentation and singing lay at the heart Zikina’s sound. Song’s like “Chumba” rest on the dance between the resonant plucked rhythms of Gideon’s enanga and Mike’s somewhat Framptonesque fretwork that has a talkbox quality without the talkbox. In the breaks you can really appreciate the skill of Roston’s Berklee-trained bass, crisp and understated in the underbelly of the music, highlighted by the tight and unrelenting percussion of Zikina’s current drummer Kade Parkin who came on after Nate Ash-Morgan left for grad school in Texas.
“At its foundation, everything starts with the music that Gideon is bringing to us from the Uganda region,” Mike says. “But he is very skilled at balancing the need to honor tradition with being open to allowing us other musicians to really have a strong voice and stretch it in new directions.”
Gideon says that the music isn’t merely an extract of one tradition or another, but a blend of four traditions and musical experiences that each bring their own interpretations to the sound to create something larger. And it’s that collective distillation that lends Zikina it’s unique flavor. - The Amherst Collective


The Introduction (2016)



Zikina is a group of people who came from across continents and cultures to show that despite all the forces in the world that remind us of our differences, we can come together to make something beautiful and new. It doesn’t take long for this music to get you dancing, clapping along, connecting with the people around you, and savoring the beauty of the present moment. You might start with curiosity when Uganda native Gideon Ampeire draws you in with a variety of traditional East African instruments that are rare and fascinating to US audiences, including enanga (zither), adungu (harp), and kalimba (thumb piano)- all of which he builds himself.

Once your interest is piqued by the instruments, you’ll quickly discover that there’s so much more to the band beyond basic novelty. Mike Cardozo (also of Gokh-Bi System) uses his guitar to improvise intricate melodic conversations with Gideon and dances through the beat with punchy rhythmic lines. Roston Kirk on bass and Kade Parkin on drums weave a sonic landscape that flows seamlessly from intense grooves to joyous dance beats to dreamy textures. Gideon's vocals cut powerfully through the fabric or float lightly above. It all adds up to something completely unique, yet immediately accessible.

Band Members