Zamrock legends W.I.T.C.H. make their U.S. debut | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Zamrock legends W.I.T.C.H. make their U.S. debut 

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click to enlarge W.I.T.C.H.


Courtesy of Lincoln Hall

Zamrock is an old strain of African popular music that’s increasingly returning to the spotlight. The term references its country of origin, Zambia, as well as a particular funky brand of acid rock. Equally indebted to James Brown and Black Sabbath, the Zamrock sound was birthed in the 70s by the band Musi-O-Tunya, solidified by the fuzzy electric guitar of Paul Ngozi from the group Ngozi Family, and furthered in groups such as the Peace, Amanaz, and W.I.T.C.H., aka We Intend to Cause Havoc. Led by singer Emanyeo “Jagari” Chanda (who took his nickname from Mick Jagger) and originally called the Mighty Witch, W.I.T.C.H. became perhaps the most popular Zamrock band. They released now-classic albums such as 1972’s In the Past, 1974’s Introduction, and 1975’s oft-reissued Lazy Bones—widely acknowledged as a garage-psych masterpiece. Chanda quit in the late 70s, when an oppressive government regime forced the band to perform before a restrictive nightly curfew. Conflicting reports say he found God or became a teacher or began working as a gemstone miner (and all might be true). But W.I.T.C.H. carried on into the mid-80s with new singers and a more disco-infused sound. Sadly, today Chanda is the only surviving member of the group—the AIDS epidemic took the lives of his former bandmates. After the Now Again label released a W.I.T.C.H. box set in 2012, new listeners got turned on to the group’s sounds, and Chanda was approached by Dutch psych-pop sensation Jacco Gardner and his friend Nic Mauskovic to perform a set of W.I.T.C.H. songs with the two of them playing backup. This led to a European tour and a few west-coast appearances over the following year. In May 2019, the documentary W.I.T.C.H.—We Intend to Cause Havoc came out, and at last W.I.T.C.H. are making their first proper U.S. tour (with Canadian guitarist Michael Rault joining Gardner in the backing band). It’s only nine dates long, so don’t sleep on this very rare chance to shake your booty to live W.I.T.C.H. music.   v

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