BASS Festival 2009BASS Festival (British Arts and Street Sounds) is the UK’s only month-long celebration of Black Music and Art, and it returns this June for a celebration of African music and culture. Taking place for the fourth consecutive year, BASS will play host to a range of events in venues across London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester and Derby. There will also be satellite events in Manchester and Edinburgh. Below are some of this year’s highlights.

The festival will be opened by award-winning Kenyan artist, Opiyo Okach who will be performing his emotionally-felt double bill of dance at The Patrick Centre, Birmingham Hippodrome. He will be performing his internationally successful ‘No Man’s Gone Now’ and premiering ‘Border Border Express’, a thought-provoking piece about real and fictional borders.

BASS has also secured the UK rights to an art exhibition of the worlds most controversial and prolific album sleeve designers, Ghariokwu Lemi. A self-taught graphic designer and fine artist, Lemi has designed over two hundred album covers in his thirty-five year career and has worked with some of the world’s most famous musicians. He is best-known for designing nearly thirty album covers for Nigerian Afrobeat star and political activist Fela Kuti. Lemi’s distinctive work paints a picture of Africa through political, comical and erotic references. ‘Art of the Album Cover’ will be showing at Rich Mix, London and Birmingham Central Library throughout June.

In addition to Lemi, BASS also welcomes urban artist T*Magic to the line-up. Tipped as MTV and RWD Magazine’s ‘About to Blow’ artist, T*Magic has been commissioned to produce a visual arts project as part of his ‘Art Is My Hustle’ collection on the streets of Leicester.

BASS will also present The Shrine vs Nosferatu at The Electric Cinema, Birmingham’s oldest working cinema. The Shrine Synchro System is the ever-evolving musical unit of Rita Ray and Max Reinhardt, developed from the Shrine club nights which were inspired by Fela Kuti’s legendary Lagos club. Famed for their live soundtrack performances, Shrine will be performing an African inspired live soundtrack for the first ever vampire movie, Nosferatu.

As well as artists, exhibitions and screenings, BASS Festival has announced a strong musical line-up, including; Louis Den Beat Cypher, a group of UK producers and beatmakers who will be performing their latest technical wizardry. In addition, the female DJ duo Mama Feel Good will be performing at the festival, following their nomination as one of Flavour Magazine’s ‘Fab 5 Groups To Emerge From The UK’.

BASS Festival 2009

In addition, Punch records and The Bongo Club present I Dream of Fela - with Sway, Baby J, Richard Olatunde Baker and live band. This new commission will explore the influence that traditional African music has on contemporary styles including hip hop and grime, using the music of Fela Kuti as inspiration. The show will feature in Leicester, Manchester and Edinburgh as part of BASS festival.

BASS Festival is produced by Birmingham-based Punch Records, in association with Baby J and 2Funky Arts. In 2009 the festival will work with mainstream and grassroots organisations to deliver a range of new commissions, live performances, art exhibitions, dance and theatre performances, film screenings, and master classes.

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