City Paper is not for tourists
The musicians in Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou sing in Fon and French and sometime play Vodun-derived rhythms, but familiarity with Benin’s languages and musical traditions isn’t required to appreciate this veteran band’s timeless dance music. Orchestre Poly-Rythmo formed in the 1960s and became popular throughout West Africa with its blend of local styles, James Brown funk, Congolese guitar grooves, Afrobeat brass, and Latin salsa. The group never toured outside Africa during their prime in the 1970s, but it’s finally begun to rectify that, along with releasing its first new album in years, 2011’s Cotonou Club. The new album shows that Orchestre Poly-Rythmo’s current incarnation still knows what works: booming horns, head-nodding percussion, psychedelic riffs, and soaring vocal melodies.
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou performs at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at The Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW. $22.50–$38. thehamiltondc.com. (202) 787-1000.