Kwame Binea's Debut EP
Bruce Von Stiers
Kwame Binea was born in England but raised by his grandparents in Ghana. While growing up, Kwame was not only influenced by traditional regional music but Reggae, folk soul and blues. He later attended William Paterson University in the U.S., ultimately following up on his dream of a musical career.
While at William Paterson, Kwame was instrumental in creating a rock, blues and soul band called The Kause. Further along in his career path, Kwame teamed up with Justin Wilcox and the two performed together as a duo. That pairing evolved into a full-fledged band that was called the Uptown Shakedown. With Kwame fronting the band, they have played to packed houses all around, including Rockwood Music Hall and The Bitter End.
This year finds Kwame at another juncture in his musical career. He has recorded an EP that is aptly titled Kwame Binea Shakedown. It is being released on July 17 th in conjunction with Pelopos Entertainment Group.
The EP was produced by Jerry Ramos and the band. It has four songs and a play time of fourteen minutes. All of the songs were written by Kwame and Justin Wilcox.
Kwame does all of the lead vocals. Supporting him are several talented artists. Justin Wilcox is on guitar and vocals. Besides working with Kwame, Justin has been in bands such as Midnight Bride and The Washers. Also on guitar is Art Vanterpool. He's played at such top venues as the Stone Pony. Phil Bass is on bass. Michael Quigley is on saxophone. Kengo Yamada is also on saxophone. Medley Shabazz has performed with Kwame for quite a while. He lends his talents on the drums to the EP.
Brian Varneke plays trumpet. He also plays trumpet and guitar for the rock / Americana band, Della Grove and trumpet for the ska band Crisis Crayons. Having played with greats like Ornette Coleman, Tevin Thomas lends his talents on keyboards to the music on this EP. Jerry Ramos provides additional keyboard music.
Dietrice Bolden has an impressive resume that includes stage, concerts, television and in the film August Rush. She provides backing vocals here. Jindai Joseph also appeared in August Rush and has a new single out called Wait. Jindai provides backing vocals here along with Dietrice.
Let Go is the first song. It starts with tough drums and then the horn section kicks in. The song is a mix of horn laden blues and rock. The song has some tough rock guitar near the end of it. “You've got to keep your mind on the positive” is not only a lyric in the song but the underlying theme.
Trumpets play a larger role in Kwame's music. That is very apparent in the song Hang On. Horns jam all throughout the song. It has a cooler than cool rock and blues groove. Again there is a tough rock guitar solo. As with the first song, Kwame's vocals are solid and fluid. The song deals with life struggles and that we need to need to take control of our lives.
Little Lady is the third song on the EP. This one has a slower pace. It is a sort of mild love ballad. Not only is the music good and Kwame's vocals are good, the backing vocals are fantastic.
Another ballad concludes the EP. This one is titled Waiting. It starts out with some subtle guitar. Then the song moves into a moderate rock ballad pace. It almost has some Southern Rock ballad styling in parts of it. The song is about Kwame's long journey in life and his music and how he sees “the light on the other side.” There are some great backing vocals in the song.
I hadn't heard of Kwame Binea before receiving the EP. But I became an instant fan. His music is rooted not only in blues but solidly in rock and soul. The influences that I mentioned earlier have seemed to have helped shape the great music that is on this EP. To quote from a press release for the EP, Kwame says that “We make music that moves you and makes you move.” I couldn't agree more.
The Kwame Binea Shakedown EP will be available soon on iTunes, CD Baby and amazon.com.
The official site for Kwame Binea Shakedown is http://www.kwamebineashakedown.com/ .
There is also a Facebook band page at https://www.facebook.com/kwameandtheuptownshakedown
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© 2015 Bruce E Von Stiers