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Originally published Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 7:08 PM

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Nomo brings unorthodox, electrified Afrobeat to Tractor Tavern

Chicago Afrobeat band Nomo plays the Tractor with Rubblebucket on June 25.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Concert preview

Nomo, Rubblebucket

9:30 p.m. Friday, the Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave. N.W., Seattle; $12 (866-468-7623 or

Apparently June is Afrobeat Month in Seattle.

By sheer coincidence — or divine/funky provenance — this month we celebrate the horn-driven, percussion-mad genre with concerts by its most revered performers: Innovative drummer Tony Allen headlined the World Music Festival at Snoqualmie Casino last week and Femi Kuti, son of Afrobeat godfather Fela Kuti, plays the Showbox with his 11-piece powerhouse band the Positive Force on Tuesday, June 29.

In between, tonight at the Tractor, is Nomo, modern Afrobeat's most progressive band.

A nine-piece hailing from Chicago, Nomo offers a dubby, circuit-bender's take on Afrobeat tradition. The usual phalanx of brass unleashes the primary melodic charge, but Nomo is most identified with the kalimba, or metal-tined African thumb piano.

Bandleader Elliot Bergman designs, builds and plays his own; electrified, amplified and distorted, they sound like grungy steel drums, simultaneously dark and bright, rhythmic and melodic.

Save occasional shouted chants, Nomo's music is instrumental. The emphasis on pure, syncopated sound is entrancing.

Previous Nomo shows at the Tractor concluded with the band playing on the floor, surrounded by dancers, a bouncing mass of sweat and joy. Once seen in that light, Afrobeat's magic is undeniable.

Jonathan Zwickel: 206-464-3239 or

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