Though Denver's world musicians may fly under the radar, the city is home to a wealth of artists who offer a vivid listening experience apart from the usual banjos at a bluegrass festival or the late-night raves on the effervescent EDM scene. Below is a small sample of Colorado world music artists that you need to get to know in 2016:
Paa Kow is from a small village in Ghana. After playing drums for local villages and touring with a government-sponsored dance band, Paa Kow was invited to play with some of the best musicians of the region by pop star Amakye Dedeto. An encounter with a travelling CU Boulder student brought him to the university as a guest artist and teacher in 2007. Since then he has released two albums, Hand Go Hand Come (2012) and Ask (2014), and continues to provide audiences with lively performances of West African pop/jazz fusion.
Next show: Barkley Ballroom, Frisco, Colorado, January 28, 2016.
El Javi began his musical journey as a youth with a love for metal guitar in Mexico. His current “Flamenco Fusion” duo formed after spending time at the Musicians Institute of Los Angeles and in Sevilla, Spain learning flamenco guitar. El Javi consists of himself and percussionist Jordi Marin. Their fourth album A Gypsy Journey Pt. 1: Trip was released this year.
Next show: The Muddy Buck, Evergreen, Colorado, January 8, 2016.
Sambadendê was formed by percussionist Ty Hammes after he moved to Boulder after spending time in Ecuador. With the addition of several musicians from around the world, the band created the samba reggae sound that entices visitors and locals to the dance floor at their recurring performances at the St. Julien Hotel.
Selasee Atiase was born in the Ghanaian capital of Accra. After releasing a self-titled album with his band Makuma, he immigrated to the U.S. in 2001 to pursue a solo career. His songs have been featured in international video games and won awards. Selasee and the Fafa Family perform a colorful and energetic fusion of West African pop, American pop and reggae. The band’s third album Time for Peace was released in December 2014.
Next show: Appaloosa Grill, Denver, February 12, 2016.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Westword's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Denver's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Sherefe captivates audiences with traditional gypsy (Romani) music from Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Their repertoire includes songs sung in Greek, Arabic, and Turkish. The Boulder band comprises Jesse Mano (bouzouki, baglama, oud, flutes, vocals, and percussion), James Hoskins (cello, gadulka, zurna, and vocals) and Zahara (percussion) with regular guests Beth Quist (vocals, santoor), Julie Lancaster (vocals, accordion), and Paul Brown (bass). The band is available for private events.
Boulder’s Ginga provides listeners with a variety of Brazilian and South American music styles. The band features musicians well-versed in classical, jazz and salsa music. Current members are Francisco Marques (cavaquinho, bass, percussion), Greg Laliberte (flute, saxophones, percussion), Bill Kopper (acoustic six- and seven-string guitar, electric guitar), Raoul Rossiter (drums, percussion), Carl Dixon (percussion), and Victor Mestas (keyboards).
Next show: St. Julien Hotel, Boulder, February 12, 2016.