Kwame Binea is a self-proclaimed rocker to the core, but he has peppered his own brand of “Roots Rock” which embodies his fertile and cultural diverse personal saga; growing up in West London (his birth place) and his native origins in Ghana, moving later to Cherry Hill, NJ as a teenager before setting up home in New York City to unearth his artistic aspirations as a burgeoning singer/songwriter.
“Mix Rock and Roll with Silky Soul, screaming blues with folk and you get Kwame Binea” says The Apollo Theater. “My music is organic,” says Kwame “, it embodies life, love and struggles. I’m driven by my mantra of Peace, Love & Positivity so that propels and drives the messages for most of my lyrical content. It’s also party music and danceable, so if our music moves you and makes you move, that’s a great night” he added.
In 2009, when he teamed up with songwriter/guitarist Justin Wilcox, his artistic identity began to really surface and flourish. Kwame transplanted to Harlem and they started performing covers and a few originals as an acoustic duo in clubs and coffee houses around New York City.There they built up credibility with their guitar driven acoustic live performances and also drew some attention from other NYC/NJ musicians playing the same circuit of venues.
Initially drummer Medley Shabazz joined the duo, then bassist Phil Bassaragh and guitarist Art Vanterpool. In 2011, the core 5-piece band started playing in clubs throughout the city. The band sometimes features horn players, Brian Varneke (trumpet) and Kengo Yamada (saxophone).According to legend or myth (depending on who tells the story) the band earned its name Uptown Shakedown because the walls in Kwame’s apartment in Harlem used to shake when they rehearsed . It was later truncated to just Shakedown.
Kwame and the band fed recordings and live endeavors with an unyielding spirit and intestinal fortitude that is strikingly visible in his artistic growth. They continued to draw a legion of loyal fans with electrifying and inspirational performances at most of New York City’s most celebrated venues including Brooklyn Bowl, Joe’s Pub, Mercury Lounge, Rockwood Music Hall, Aaron Davis Hall, Sullivan Hall, Shrine & Silvana, The Bitter End and a Summer Residency at the icon Arlene’s Grocery in the LES.
In 2015, was the released their self titled debut EP the guys would embarked on a national tour taking them from Vermont to California and everywhere in between. In 2016 the band would set out on the road to play during SXSW in Austin, TX then overseas on a 3 nation European tour hitting Netherland, Belguim and the UK. On their return states side a SOLD OUT performance at historic Apollo Theater music cafe.
Kwame and the band released their debut LP (Roots Rock N Universal Love) in the summer of 2017. The Album includes a stellar collaboration with Grammy award winning Guitarist/Producer Vernon Reid, the title song “ Universal Love” produced by Reid and written by Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame inductee Jimmy Cliff. Elmore Magazine writes ” Roots Rockin Universal Love is a delightful 40-minute jolt of caffeine for the ears, from a band ready to laugh and inspire in addition to bringing the party. Its the kind that lift we can all use more of these days”. Look out for Kwame and the guys on the Universal Love Tour coming to a city near you.
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