Afrobeat genre comes to Marquette

Austin Irwin

Attempting to prove that what makes music tasteful isn’t the pair of legs but rather how many are moving on the dance floor, Chicago Afrobeat Project (CAbP) is traveling from Chicago to Marquette for a two-night celebration of jazz, funk,  West African highlife and juju music at the Upfront.

“We’ve been lucky enough to come through Marquette on a regular basis, though it’s been a little over a year. We love coming here and have made a lot of friends that we see all over the country,” baritone sax player Garrick Smith said.

CAbP is made up of 11 members, ranging from bass player Graham Czach to Mike Thomson on trombone. However, due to travel costs, CAbP has formed a core of four members: Garrick Smith on baritone saxophone, Angelo Garcia on tenor saxophone, Dave Glines on guitar and Kevin Ford on keyboard. At select shows, CAbP is joined on stage with African dancers from Chicago’s Muntu Dance Theatre, TJ Oklunola’s talking drum, and a painter known as Chadwick.

The Chicago Afrobeat Project, made up of 11 members, will perform at the Upfront & Company on Jan. 21-22. The band balances tradition with experimentation to provide unique live performances. The members come from diverse backgrounds, holding their own as soloists and creating dynamic and lyrical music. // Photo courtesy of

“The band formed in 2002 in a loft on the west side of Chicago. It started as an experiment with many different musicians. The other members rotate as to who’s available to travel, Smith said. Living in Chicago gives us access to some awesome musicians who seem to enjoy what we’re doing.”

CAbP continues to excel as a band, now performing over 100 live shows each year from coast to coast within the United States.

“People tend to know their roles within the band. They are very well defined and that’s what keeps us moving in the afrobeat direction, even though we’re adding new elements and styles to the genre,” Smith said.

Colton Morozow, a sophomore at NMU, saw CAbP play once before during a visit to Chicago, and said he was pleased with what he heard.

“It is enjoyable to listen to so many different instruments from so many different genres.  Where I work in Fort Lauderdale, there is a strip of live entertainment, near the beach. Each restaurant has their own live entertainment, I felt like I was back home when I watched them live in Chicago,” Morozow said.

Nominated as Best African Artist in the Chicago Music Awards (CMA) in 2004 and 2005, CAbP was also nominated for the CMA’s “Award of Honor for Contribution to World Beat Music” in 2006.

CAbP was last in Marquette in September of 2009, at Upfront & Company where they promoted their third and most recent album, “Off the Grid,” a five-track disc that offers a smooth combination of drums, guitar and saxophone.

“The Upfront is one of the best live music venues, the sound system in particular. It has a pretty good capacity, very friendly club atmosphere, and it is one of the only places to watch bands from out of town come and perform,” said  Upfront & Company sound engineer Christopher Moore.

CAbP will be performing Jan. 21-22 at 10:30 p.m. for audiences 21 years and older. Admission costs $4 the first night and $5 the next.