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Ghetto Blaster

There are at least two groups using the name Ghetto Blaster: 1. Ghetto Blaster started out as a 5 piece Ska, Punk band in Toronto, Ontario in early 2008. After a few practices the line-up was cut down to 3 members: Neil - Guitar/Vocals, Crowley - Bass/Vocals & Andy - Drums/Vocals. In late 2008 they began recording their first self titled EP, then went onto to play their first shows. After some show experience they released their EP late 2008. Shortly after the release of the CD came conflict within the band. Which would ultimately lead to Neil parting ways with the band. Without spending much time looking for a new member Ian from Corporation agreed to join the band on bass which put Crowley back on his original instrument (Guitar). With the line-up change they felt Ghetto Blaster was finally what they wanted it to be, but had somewhat of a different sound. They will be recording their second EP in 2010 with an unknown amount of tracks. For a band that is considered new to the scene with being around for only a year. They've gone through a member, moving onto their second EP and have finally pin pointed their sound. So let's see what they will go through after year 2. 2. The Ghetto Blaster adventure starts in 1983, when two French musicians (Romain Pugebet and Stéphane Blaes) asked Pascal Imbert to produce them. He decided to go with them to Lagos, Nigeria, by car in order to make a record with the musicians he knew there. This trip from Paris to Lagos was filmed as a musical documentary by Stéphane Meppiel (producer-director), François Kotlarski (cameraman) and Eric Münch (sound engineer). Martin Meppiel, Isabelle Soto and Nathalie Vierney also end up joining them in the adventure. Once in Nigeria, Kiala Nzavotunga (guitar, lead vocals), Ringo Avom (drums) and Udoh Essiet (percussion) – ex-musicians from Fela & Egypt 80’ - join the French musicians, as well as Betty Ayaba (vocals) and Willy N’for (bass, lead vocals) - a musician with Sonny Okossun at that time. After several months playing their Afro-beat/Afro-funk music at the Black Pussy Cat, a Nigerian bar where people spend the night dancing to juju and Afro-beat music, Ghetto Blaster decided to try their luck in Europe. They arrived in Paris in 1983, on Stéphane Meppiel’s barge, moored at Nogent-sur-Marne. The barge becomes their home and rehearsal studio and moves into Paris in 1984 to be moored beside the Gare d’Austerlitz. The film of this story is broadcast on Antenne 2 in 1984. The same year, Ghetto Blaster releases “Preacher Man (Efi Ogunle),” a maxi-single on Island, Chris Blackwell’s label. In 1985, Ghetto Blaster brings out the album People on the Mélodie label (executive producer Jacques Goldstein). This album, recorded and mixed in five days in the Marcadet studio (Paris), makes their music known to a wider audience. They do a tour across the United States in 1988 - playing in such places as Boston, New York, Miami and Los Angeles - and play opening concerts for Fela Kuti, Kool & the Gang, Archie Shepp, James Brown, Maceo Parker and Manu Dibango. At the end of the ’80s, the death of singer Betty Ayaba and later the death of bassist Willy N’for in 1997, separates the group for a while, each of them pursuing their own personal projects. In 1999, after a long silence, Ghetto Blaster reforms. There are three of them now: Kiala Nzavotunga (founding member, guitarist and lead vocals), Frankie Ntoh Song (founding member, keyboard and vocals) and Myriam Betty (singer who joined the group on their arrival in France). Their comeback concert took place in 1999 at the African Festival of Delft (the Netherlands). In 2002, the album People was re-released on vinyl by Follow Me Records. In 2003, Ghetto Blaster celebrates 20 years of music together and the release of the album River Niger, on Next Record, distributed by Next Music. It is produced by Stéphane Blaes and Kiala Nzavotunga.

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