Vintage Zambian psych rock comes to S.F. 

click to enlarge Egon
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Egon appears Friday on a once-in-a-lifetime bill with venerated Zambian psych-rocker Jagari Chanda, who makes his U.S. debut.

Madlib, one of America's most treasured hip-hop producers, brings the psychedelic rock and funk of 1970s Zambia to San Francisco for a once-in-lifetime show.

On Friday, he hosts another iteration of his "Madlib Medicine Show" at 1015 Folsom. This time, it's themed "The Sound of Zamrock" and features a live performance by original Zambian psych-rocker Jagari Chanda backed by a full band.

DJ sets from Madlib and Now-Again Records' Egon, both spinning ultra-rare psych from the lost scene, are supporting Chanda's U.S. debut.

"It's totally awesome, and it's not easy to make a thing like this happen," says Egon, aka Eothen Alapatt. "Here we are, back in San Francisco with one of the last remaining Zambian rock musicians and it's going to be a Zambian rock-funk-fuzz-guitar freakout night."

Zambia, on a plateau in southern Africa, gained independence from England in the 1970s, and British and American imports such as Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Grand Funk Railroad and Deep Purple enthralled the newly independent Zambians.

"They said, 'Damn, these guys look cool with their platform boots and bell-bottoms. You know, we're going to rock. We all sing in English anyway.' Most of it is a celebration of the rhythm and spirit and fire of psychedelic and hard-rock music and funk."

The micro-genre flourished for just seven years before rampant cassette tape piracy decimated the local recording industry and AIDS wiped out 95 percent of Zamrock artists, Egon says.

Now-Again Records' audio archaeologists recovered and published the best of the lost music scene, and Madlib became a huge fan.

"He and I have been geeking out on it since I started pulling these records out of Zambia about four and half years ago. When the opportunity presented itself, he was like, 'Yeah, we should do this as the concept of the show.'"

Getting travel visas for Chanda has been difficult, but worth it to bring the aging artist to the psych-rock capital of the world.

"Talk to Jagari about playing in San Francisco brings a tear to that man's eye," Egon says.

San Francisco music lovers' adventurous tastes make The City perfect for Zamrock's U.S. debut.

"I have a feeling anybody who's going to this show knows they are going to be in for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Egon says.

IF YOU GO

Egon

Opening for "The Sound of Zamrock" featuring Jagari Chanda

Where: 1015 Folsom, 1015 Folsom St., S.F.

When: 10 p.m. Friday

Tickets: $20

Contact: (415) 431-1200, www.1015.com

DAILY SPIN

Today

The Field (Live A/V Show): Swedish artist The Field (Axel Willner) brings to The City a rare live, solo ambient show using analog equipment, accompanied by a visual set by photographer-artist Sonia Alvarez — shipping that gear from Willner's base in Berlin can't have been cheap. 9 p.m., $16.50. Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F., (415) 771-1421, www.theindependentsf.com

Friday

Low End Theory: The taste-making electronic music night continues at its new Mission district home, Mighty, with Kraddy, Dibia$e and Ultraviolet, plus Gaslamp Killer, Daddy Kev, D-Styles, NOCANDO and more. 10 p.m., $20. Mighty, 119 Utah St., S.F., (415) 762-0151, www.mighty119.com

Sunday

Sunset Island Electronic Music Picnic: Promoters Sunset Soundsystem take its party to scenic Treasure Island in the middle of the Bay for the fifth annual electronic music picnic with Octave One, Tevo Howard, DVS-1, Galen, Solar and J-Bird. Noon, $5. Great Lawn, Treasure Island, S.F., www.sunsetmusicelectric.com

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David Downs

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