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Cassette tapes are not particularly DJ-friendly. Tracks aren’t easily separated, and, well, tapes aren’t really the go-to medium these days. But Brian Shimkovitz, founder of the blog Awesome Tapes From Africa and a new record label, is undaunted. The ethnomusicologist-cum-DJ, who picked up many of his tapes while researching on a Fulbright grant in Ghana, traffics in recordings from across the continent. To say the music on his blog is hard to find would be an understatement: Most of the songs he posts, from the traditional to the hybridized, are plumbed from his own esoteric stash, found in small shops in New York (he lives in Manhattan, but did time in D.C.) and other cities, or sent in by his global network of readers. From sanzas (regional thumb pianos) to drum machines and Tanzanian hip-hop to Malian blues, the music on Shimkovitz’s blog is unpredictable—perhaps as unpredictable as seeing him DJ with cassette tapes tonight.
Shimkovitz DJs with Beautiful Swimmers and DJ Harvey at 9 p.m. at U Street Music Hall, 1115 U St. NW. Free. (202) 588-1880.