Dereb The Ambassador – Justice To Ethiopian & Australian Music

At their show at the Basement in Sydney on Friday night, Dereb the Ambassador did something I’ve never before heard a band in Australia do. They acknowledged the traditional indigenous owners of the land upon whose land they played – and paid their respect to elders past and present of the Gadigal people.  It was an impressive start to a special show filled with ‘Ethio-soul’ tunes oozing with funk and played to absolute perfection.

Dereb the Ambassador live @ The Basement

Dereb the Ambassador live @ the Basement

Dereb the Ambassador (aka Dereb Desalegn) and his musical cohorts have taken the sounds of traditional Ethiopian folk music, plus 60‘s and 70‘s soul and jazz, and infused them with fresh, contemporary musical flavours of the very funky and at times the skanking kind. So what you get from this group live is always-grooving music you can’t help but move to.

dereb the Ambassador live @ The Basement

What you also get is 8 artists on stage whose level of musicianship and skill is refreshingly, delightfully faultless. Usually when I hear music the sound of maybe one or two instruments (sometimes voice) played in an especially awesome way will stand out from the rest to grab my focus. At the Dereb the Ambassador gig my ears and eyes were pulled from one musician to the next by the especially awesome playing of all of them.

Dereb the Ambassador live @ The BasementDereb the Ambassador live @ The Basement

Dereb the Ambassador at the Basement was: Eden Ottignon on bass, Matt Ottignon on tenor sax, Peter Farrar on C Melody saxophone, Daniel Pliner on keys, Jonathon Pease on guitar, Sandro Bueno on percussion and Carlos Adura on drums.  Each of them are incredibly experienced and accomplished Sydney-based musicians in their own right. Playing together as a group they were as tight as tight can be.

Last but definitely not least was the group’s main song-writer Dereb Desalegn  – a talented and emotive vocalist;  dynamic and engaging frontman; and yes, a musical ambassador doing great justice to both the music of his native Ethiopia and contemporary Australia.

Dereb the Ambassador live @ The Basement

Check out 2 videos here of Dereb the Ambassador live at the Basement on Friday night…

It makes total sense to me that Will Holland (aka Quantic), with his always great tastes in music, would team up with Dereb the Ambassador to produce and include the track ‘Arada’ on his new album Magnetica (listen to ‘Arada’ here).  Even more sense after hearing that Dereb the Ambassador’s 2011 self-titled album was recorded using only classic, pre-70’s analogue equipment.

Dereb the Ambassador (2011)

Dereb the Ambassador (2011)

With some extra effort by members of Dereb the Ambassador in Sydney on the weekend, I managed to buy myself one of the last remaining copies of that album. Check out 2 sample tracks here, definitely find the live Dereb the Ambassador experience when you can and keep an ear out for the second album coming soon.

Dereb the Ambassador (2011)

Dereb the Ambassador (2011)

 Gedawo (Traditional) – Dereb the Ambassador


Aynei (Dereb Desalegn) – Dereb the Ambassador
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NGAIIRE Live – Glastonbury Via The Basement

The first time I was blessed to have the live NGAIIRE experience was at AWME 2013 – a showcase of upcoming Australasian artists. Now, just 7 months later, Ngaiire is off to the UK to share her music with crowds at 2014’s sold-out Glastonbury Festival. She deserves all the success she’s had during this past year and before, confirmed for me again when I caught her last Australian show for a while last week at Sydney’s legendary music venue The Basement.

NGAIIRE live at The Basement, Sydney - May 2014

This particular NGAIIRE show bought me an hour or so of feeling that special indescribable joy that different music brings to all of us.  Like each of the previous three times I’ve heard her perform live, she and her band captivated me from the first note to the last.  

The Basement is a small, dark, ambient venue.  To hear and see NGAIIRE and her band perform up close and personal in that intimate environment was a very special experience indeed – one that will stay with me for a long time.

NGAIIRE is gorgeous to see and gorgeous to hear.  Her vocal range in all its power and subtleties, her emotive and intelligent lyrics and her very unique vocal phrasing will make you smile, and smile some more.  The three other talented musicians with her on stage will surely do the same.

NGAIIRE live at The Basement, Sydney - May 2014

Most songs in The Basement set were from NGAIIRE’s 2013 album Lamentations. Sample a dirty mp3 version of a track from Lamentations here…

Lamentations (2013) - Ngaiire

Lamentations (2013)

‘Rabbit Hole’ –  NGAIIRE – Lamentations (2013)


Then check these videos of ‘Dirty Hercules’ and ‘ABCD’ live at The Basement – videos of a quality which could never possibly do NGAIIRE and her band the justice they deserve, but will give you a teeny-weeny glimpse of the goodness…


One song in NGAIIRE’s set was a new one – as yet unreleased. Hopefully amongst her seemingly non-stop, demanding festival and tour schedule, she’ll find some studio time soon so we’re not waiting too long for her next album release.

Check out a video of that new song performed live at The Basement…

I’ve heard a lot of live music this year and lately, but NGAIIRE’s show at The Basement was definitely up there amongst the the most special. Like I’ve recently described Erykah Badu’s live shows, ‘divine’ is the word for the live NGAIIRE experience. Festival-goers at Glastonbury are in for a treat.

Ngaiire live @ The Basement, Sydney - May 2014

More Ngaiire

You can check out more of NGAIIRE’s musical gifts on this here site…

* Other sample tracks from Lamentations here.

* Sample tracks from Songs For No One and Two Minds here.

* Video of NGAIIRE live at The Toff In Town from AWME (Australasian Worldwide Music Expo) 2013 here.

* Video of NGAIIRE live with the Barefoot Divas at Mullum Music Festival 2013 here.

* Video of NGAIIRE live at WOMADelaide 2014 here.

Ngaiire @ live @ WOMADelaide 2014

NGAIIRE at WOMADelaide 2014

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