Dinner Music: Hailu Mergia with Dahlak Band
Soft, melodic, easy listening and an all time favorite
Hailu Mergia is an Ethiopian keyboardist, best known for his role in the Walais Band in the 1970s. That time period, especially for Walais Band, is widely considered to be Ethiopia’s “golden age of music,” characterized by jazz and polyrhythmic funk sounds. In the 80s, Mergia moved to the United States and has been working as a taxi driver in Washington DC since the late nineties. In his spare time, he continues to write music. “After I drop my customer, I grab my keyboard from the trunk and sit in the car and practice,” he said in an interview with The Guardian.
Wede Harer Guzo was recorded in 1978 as a cassette-only release and was released digitally in 2016 by Awesome Tapes from Africa, a label doing similar work as Habibi Funk. At the time, Mergia was making jazz and funk with Walais Band, but his collaboration with Dahlak Band gave him the opportunity to explore more experimental and atmospheric sounds. The album was recorded in a swanky hotel and nightspot and the sounds paint a vivid picture of the environment — diplomats coming and going, visitors soaking up the city. It’s blissful, effortless and authentically warm.
Wede Harer Guzo by Hailu Mergia:
Pair this album with:
Kobal Bajta Blaufrankisch Pet Nat Rose. This rosé hails from Slovenia and was a recent club pick from a natural wine club I’m a part of in Austin called Glou Glou Girls. It’s bright, mouthwateringly delicious with notes of juicy red fruits like strawberries and raspberries. A perfect late spring wine.
Chicken Yassa. Smoky grilled chicken, sweet caramelized onions, tangy lime, bright ginger and spicy Scotch bonnet chile. It’s a perfect weekend meal.
Thank you, thank you. Have a great weekend.