Tezeta Band

Ethiopian Dance Music

Live Wire Podcast with Tezeta Band

For those of you who missed the Live Wire broadcast that went out nationally on public radio. Here is the link to the podcast.

Live Wire Tezeta Band Link

It was a thrill to be involved with Live Wire. All of the staff and cast were top notch professionals and set us at ease making a very enjoyable environment…and the beer wasn’t bad either.

We also suggest listening to this weekend’s Live Wire broadcast as well featuring Crystal Bowersox. Crystal had an amazing voice and couldn’t have been cooler. She played The Tonight Show 1 week later. So we were in very good company.

If you are interested in attending future Live Wire events here is the link and show schedule. Live Wire Radio

Next up for us Thursday April 18th at The Secret Society

Ciao for Now,

Tezeta Band


So it’s been confirmed; Tezeta Band will be playing on the radio show LiveWire on March 16th! In case you have not heard of LiveWire it has been a called a “radio variety for the A.D.D. generation”. On air across the country, it is just one of the many Oregon exports for public radio.

We’ll be sharing the airwaves with David Shields and Luke Burbank, so get your tickets now!

Inaugural Second Thursday at The Secret Society

Last Thursday (Jan 10th) was the first installment of the “The Ethio-Soul Sessions” 2nd Thursday events at The Secret Society, and it was a blast. Not only was there a great turn-out for the show, but we were honored with a surprise visit by none other than Fasil Wuhib. Fasil WuhibFor those of you Ethiopian Jazz junkies, you may have heard him with the Wudasse Band where he plays bass (if you haven’t had a chance, check out their album, Selam). He joined with the band for some amazingly funky renditions of Tlahoun Gèssèssè‘s Aykèdashem Lebè and Seyoum Gèbrèyès’ Muziqa Muziqa.




If you missed out on the fun, fear not as we’ll be playing again on Valentine’s Day (Feb 14th) for the second installment of the “Nights of Abyssinia” at The Secret Society.

Tezeta Band Celebrates Noise & Chill Out at Mississippi Studios

Tezeta Band will be celebrating the release of the Buda Musique/EthioSonic compilation, Noise & Chill Out:Ethiopian Groove Worldwide on Saturday, February 25th at the great Mississippi Studios in North Portland. It is a huge honor for the band to be included on this compilation with such acts as Kronos Quartet, Either/Orchestra and Ethiopian Sax Legend , Getachew Mekurya. It will be a night to remember, come join the party. Tickets are $8 advance and $10 at the door.

Summer Wrap-up & The Woods

First we would like to wish our Ethiopian friends around the world Happy New Year. I can’t believe that another year has passed.

Tezeta Band has had an action packed summer. We have met a lot of great friends along the way and we look forward to a very exciting Fall Season. But first here are a few highlights of Summer 2011.

In July we were rained out of our first Portland Parks and Rec show at McCoy Park. But even torrential record breaking rain could not keep us down. Yonnas and our good friends at Sengatera gave us a dry place to play our music and we even got to have Birthday cake with our own Tezeta Band family member Lucella Prewitt. Sengatera saves the day. We eventually played the show in August and we couldn’t have had nicer weather to do it. Thanks Portland Parks & Rec, let’s do it again next Summer.

Also in July we made our first trip to Bellingham, WA to play with Yogoman Burning Band at the Boundary Bay Brewery.YBB were great hosts to us and the Boundary Bay is an excellent venue. If you have a chance check out YBB before they go on hiatus. Still one of the best bands out there. If you need any proof buy their CD.

We also played a couple of slammin’ parties and events. Aiyana was gracious enough to let 7 strangers make a bunch of racket in her back yard for her birthday and Benno & Vanessa showed us how weddings should be done. It was great playing for you all. We had a blast.

Finally we ended our summer at The Voodoo Room in Astoria. It was our bassist John Teagle’s return to his old stomping grounds. We got some local press at the Daily Astorian and radio at KMUN. It all turned into a good show and we definitely will be back again.

Next up a little of what is ahead for the next couple of months.

On Saturday October 15th Tezeta Band (formerly Five Fingers of Funk) plays with Toque Libre (formerly Rubberneck) and guest DJ Lord Smithingham. Back in the day this line-up would have been the baddest thing you ever could have walked into and guess what…It still is!

Toque Libre is a group consisting of Ricardo and Pablo Ojeda (of Rubberneck fame) with guitarist Madhi Farjami. This trio combines talents to bring infectious Flamenco Rumba rhythms and hypnotic pulses from the afro-cuban genre that will make you want to burn up the dance floor. www.toquelibre.com

We have also employed the talents of one of our favorite local DJs Lord Smithingham, who will be spinning some of the finest Jazz, Funk and Soul throughout the night.

The last time we played The Woods it sold out early, so get your tickets in advance at www.thewoodsportland.com . It will be a night to remember.

Where:The Woods, 6637 SE Milwaukie Ave PDX
When: Saturday October 15th 9:30 PM – 1:30 AM
Cost: $8 in Advance / $10 Day of the Show



Till Next Time,


Tezeta Band

Thank you to Central City Concern, North, Dave’s Killer Bread, and KGW (Tezeta Band live on Channel 8 from the CCC benefit)!

A special Tezeta Band thank you goes out to all the folks who worked so hard to raise money for Central City Concern.  Thank you to the Central City Concern volunteers.  Thank you to the staff at North for hosting the event in their beautiful workplace (loved the boombox collection, the drum set, the floating conference room, and all the smiling faces).  Thank you to Dave’s Killer Bread for helping sponsor the event.  Dave’s speech, story, and his bread are all truly inspirational.   Thank you to KGW for the live television spots of the event and the Tezeta Band.  What a great night!

Tezeta Band to play CCC Benefit at North Thursday May 26th

Tezeta Band is excited to support Community Volunteer Corp’s benefit show with live Ethiopian inspired music this Thursday, May 26th at NORTH, at 5 p.m.  Tickets can be purchased on-line here.

The silent auction has hot items – golf packages, a vacation rental on Mt. Hood, beach weekends, a RV rental, Timbers tickets and a whole lot more to make your summer complete.  Not to mention Tezeta Band, Dave Dahl of Dave’s Killer Bread and good times for a good cause.


KMHD, Back at Sengatera & Ethiopiques History

Here comes February and I am not sure how we are going to be able to top last month.  We started January with an appearance with Mahmoud Ahmed and ended it with a crazy sold out packed to the rafters show at The Woods. You will have to forgive us this month as we will be catching our breath a bit.

A big thanks goes out to Robert Ham, a writer who created an article on Tezeta Band in Willamette Week.  If you missed it you can follow the link HERE.  It is a good depiction Tezeta Band and they even used our picture.

In case you missed it we had our radio debut on KMHD Thursday February 3rd at 8:50 during Mornings on Macadam hosted byDJ Derek Smith.  He played Hametegnaw from our EP and gave us a shout out as well.  It was nice to hear out music played along side such greats as Mingus, Art Blakey and Mccoy Tyner.  So support KMHD and especially listen to the show on Thursdays 6-10 AM for some of the choicest music that you will hear all week.  And while you are at it feel free to request  our music once and awhile.

This Thursday February 10th we will be starting up our monthly Sengatera Sessions once again.  As always we will play a more casual and spaced out set starting at 9 PM-11PM.  We hope that you can make it.  We do these on the second Thursday of every month.

Where : Sengatera Restaurant 3833 NE MLK Jr. Blvd

When: Thursday February 10th, 9-11

Admission Free

Finally, I recently came across an interview with Francis Felceto, the creator of the Ethiopiques CD series that reads as a history lesson to the music we play.  The original inspiration for Tezeta Band came from the discovery of Mr Felceto’s  CD series and if you ever wondered why or how we got into this style of music just pick up any volume of the series at your local music store and give it a listen.   So follow this link and learn a few things about where this music comes from HERE it is definitely worth your time.

The cover of Ethiopique Vol 17 Tlahoun Gessesse
That’s it for now.  Thanks for supporting your local Ethiopian Cover Band and we will see you at Sengatera.

Tezeta Band

Tezeta Band featured in the Willamette Week! Thank you Robert Ham!

Five Fingers of Funk members come out of retirement to play Ethiopian funk and soul.

image from:campbellsalgado.com

[ETHIOPIAN FUNK] They don’t look like revivalists of the groove-heavy sound of vintage Ethiopian funk and soul. To the outside observer, the three slightly geeky, buttoned-down white dudes sitting around a table at Sengatera on Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on a wet January evening would most likely be trading tips on software upgrades or relaying parenting woes.

Instead, Tim Cook, Ted Hille and John Teagle, the core members of Tezeta Band, one of Portland’s best-kept secrets, are dropping names like Mulatu Astatke and Alemayehu Eshete and trying desperately to put into words what the music is like.

“When you meet someone who’s never heard any of this stuff, you think, ‘How do you explain this?’” says Hille, Tezeta’s saxophone player. “Well, it’s Ethiopian, but it’s not world music…there are elements of Motown and James Brown in there…it’s American and un-American at the same time…it’s hypnotic and sweet and seductive. I can’t put my finger on what makes it so personal. It almost feels like you grew up with it.”

Hille’s last sentence strikes at the core of what makes the sound of Ethiopian popular music so engaging. It’s a rich, complex sound that stirs together soul, funk and jazz from the U.S. and Europe; Arabic melodies that have survived in the region for centuries; and the African rhythms that leaked from regions surrounding the land-locked country. On their own, the pieces don’t seem like they’d fit. But when put together by the right hands, it sounds like they’ve been enmeshed for centuries.

“I was over at a friend’s house, and she put on this tape of this music for me,” says Cook, the band’s keyboardist. “Immediately, I was like, ‘What is this?!’ It was the most incredible stuff I’d ever heard. I begged her to make me a copy, and when my wife and I were repainting the house we bought, we just listened to that on repeat for days.”

The tape featured the first volumes of The Ethiopiques, a peerless series of compilations of both the “golden years” of Ethiopian pop in the ’60s and ’70s and modern versions of the same.  For many, like director Jim Jarmusch, who featured some tracks by Astatke in his 2005 film Broken Flowers, it was their entree into this hypnotic world of sound.

It also served as a wellspring of inspiration for Cook. He and four other members of Tezeta Band (Hille, trombonist Curt Bieker, trumpet player Josh Prewitt, and drummer Talbott Guthrie) spent six years backing up rapper Pete Miser in the Five Fingers of Funk. When that band split up in 1998, Cook concentrated on running a construction company and stopped playing music for a decade.

But after that first hit of the Ethiopian sound, Cook needed more and more. “I would go to Merkato, the Ethiopian market on Northeast Russell, every two months and buy a new CD from them. And this became so infectious that I sat down and started playing all the time, trying to figure these songs out.”

Soon thereafter, Cook had spread the music around to anyone who would listen, including his old Five Fingers bandmates, eliciting a similar epiphanic reaction. Soon enough, they were huddling around a stereo, working out the parts. “It’s ironic all of those bands were listening to old Motown records and emulating what they heard,” says Hille, “and now here’s this group of Americans trying to do the same thing to their songs.”

Their sets these days are now made up almost entirely of instrumental covers of some of their favorite Ethiopian songs, capturing the raw energy of the source material and surprising plenty of émigrés from the African nation, like Sengatera owner Yonnas Yilma. “I went with another friend from Ethiopia to see them play for the first time,” Yilma says. “And we were saying, ‘What?! What am I hearing?!’”

Yilma has since become the band’s biggest benefactor, allowing them to take the stage at his restaurant once a month, and providing them with the biggest thrill of their still-young career: opening for two rare Portland appearances by legendary Ethiopian singer Mahmoud Ahmed.

Ahmed fell quickly in love with Tezeta Band (“Tezeta”—properly pronounced Tiz-ee-tah—roughly translates to “longing” or “nostalgia,” and is a catch-all phrase for slow Ethiopian songs that speak to those feelings), even inviting it to play a few songs with him during both of his shows here. But, remembers Cook, their pale skin tone did take him by surprise.

“When he got picked up in Seattle to come down here, Yonnas played him our CD, but didn’t tell him anything about what we looked like. So, when I came here to meet him, he was told, ‘Tim is in the band opening up for you,’ and he went, ‘How can this be?’”

Robert Ham