August 12, 2018 – Dexter Story Presents Tezeta West – Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA

Dexter Story directs and performs with Armenian musicians in a curated show that celebrates the musical connection between Ethiopia and Armenia on Sunday, August 12, 2018.

DS Conducting GP

Featured musicians are:

Vardan Ovsepian – piano
Artyom Manukyan – cello
Andranig Kzirian – oud
Dexter Story – percussion, aux instruments, lecture

About the Program

Join composer, songwriter, arranger, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Dexter Storyon a journey through Near Eastern and African music.

Informed by his current ethnographic research at UCLA, Story has assembled a first-rate group of Armenian and Ethiopian musicians to explore the theme of nostalgia, also known as tezeta in Ethiopia’s national language Amharic. For this riveting performance, the musicians will celebrate the poignant and historic relationship between these two ancient cultures. Their repertoire includes both compositions and improvisational works that explore loss, displacement, migration, community, reclamation, dignity, and release.


Dexter Story Presents Tezeta West

Sunday, August 12, 12:00 and 2:00pm
Two identical sets with lecture, questions and answers.

News: Wejene Aola featuring Kamasi Washington Makes Top 10 – Vinyl Factory (

Dexter Story’s “Wejene Aola” 7″ release makes Vinyl Factory’s top 10 list for 2016.

4. Dexter Story ft. Kamasi Washington

Wejene Aola


Listen / Buy

An Ethio-funk bomb from Dexter Story, whose cover Tilahun Gessesse’s 1970 ‘Wejene Aola‘ is a homage to the oppressed Oromo people of southern Ethiopia and a testament to just how contemporary the country’s verdant ‘70s music scene still sounds. Taken from the brilliant Wondem album, Story is joined by spiritual jazz messenger Kamasi Washington, who blows a riot all over the new arrangement, his rasping, honking sax proving he can funk with the best of them. The b-side features the only track not to make the vinyl pressing of the LP, the dream-like ‘Eastern Prayer’, a spiritual antidote to the hedonism of ‘Wejene Aola’ carried by the meditational chants of vocalist Nia Andrews. A unique 7” from a label whose consistent reissue output is now being matched by some stellar new music.

November 7, 2016 – Guest Lecturer: Music and Ideas Course | Professor: Adam Gilbert – Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

Dexter Story guest lectures on Ethiopian music to a course of sophomores from the jazz and classical departments at USC’s Thornton School of Music on Monday, November 7.screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-3-11-13-pm
Commentary: I am very lucky to have spoken on the history and technique of Ethiopian music in Professor Adam Gilbert’s ‘Music and Ideas’ course at USC. The students were interactive and seemed inspired. I covered the modes, rhythms, historical origins and other discussion points. Professor Gilbert is a Ph.d in Early Music with the school and I appreciate his invitation.

October 5, 2016 – Meklit “This Was Made Here” Live – Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA

Dexter Story performs 2 songs on guitar with international artist Meklit Hadero on Wednesday, October 5 at Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles.


Travel on a diasporic odyssey with singer, musician, and cultural instigator Meklit. Immersed in her sonic homelands of Ethiopian traditional songs, jazz, and the songwriter tradition, Meklit performs music of going and returning that grooves and soars. Hear her celebrate the newness of life and the ties that bind us together, and be inspired to bridge the frontiers between language, tribes, and disciplines.

NPR hails: “[Meklit] Hadero’s sound is a unique blend of jazz, Ethiopia, the San Francisco art scene and visceral poetry; it paints pictures in your head as you listen.”

Meklit Live
This Was Made Here
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
8:00 p.m.
Skirball Cultural Center

After The Fact: I was honored to play with the brilliant Meklit at Skirball Cultural Center on Wednesday, October 5. Meklit blends acoustic folk sounds with Ethiopian jazz and traditional music in her own unique way. It’s daring, delicate, expansive and eloquent. I played on a tender song called “Yesterday is a Tizeta” and a brash guragé titled “You Are My Luck.” What an awesome talent and beautiful soul! Her arrangements are otherworldly. I hope to do more with her in the future and highly recommend you check her out.

ARTICLE: Feel the Tizita. LA’s Dexter Story finds inspiration in Little Ethiopia – 89.3 KPCC (by Mark McNeil)

Dexter Story discusses his newest release Wondem on Soundway Records and his passion for Ethiopian music and culture with’s Mark McNeil for 89.3 KPCC. The article was publishes August 3, 2016.

Dexter Story

July 17, 2016 – Wondem Live @ Japanese American Cultural & Community Center – JACCC ‎Little Tokyo Concert Series, James Irvine Japanese Garden, Downtown LA, CA

Dexter Story and Wondem band perform at Japanese American Cultural & Community Center – JACCC ‎Little Tokyo Concert Series, James Irvine Japanese Garden on Sunday, July 17, 2016.13256117_10153945629802550_8652652627639686_n.jpg_ND32150……………………………………………………………………………………………..
This summer, JACCC presents four, intimate outdoor concerts inside downtown’s James Irvine Japanese Garden in Little Tokyo.



Tickets available here:

Returning for its second season, the Little Tokyo Concert Series honors the intimate, outdoor and natural setting as an ideal environment to experience good music up close. With a diverse lineup of LA’s hottest acts, each night will be a unique and exciting way to wrap your weekends. After selling out each concert last year, we are thrilled to bring this series back to Los Angeles with a fresh line-up, here in the heart of Little Tokyo.

Indulge in sake and soba bar for a taste of Little Tokyo. Visit and experience the magic hours of the summer in great company…


+ dublab DJ Frosty

On his debut Soundway Records release, Dexter Story distills his diverse background in soul, funk, jazz and folk idioms into his own unique and worldly voice. Borrowing from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia, and Kenya, this collection of East African-influenced music is a testament to Story’s decades of dedication to artistic excellence.



Tickets are $12 presale, $15 general admission, and are available at JACCC.ORG/littletokyoconcertseries


(Japanese American Cultural & Community Center)
244 S. San Pedro St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012


The entrance to the garden is conveniently located on San Pedro Street between 2nd and 3rd streets. Look for the narrow walkway between the JACCC Center Building and the adjacent alley.


Joe’s Auto Parks/Sho Tokyo Garage
350 E 2nd St. Los Angeles, CA 90012

$10 parking. The entrance to Joe’s Auto Parks is on 2nd Street, walk across the JACCC plaza to the San Pedro Street garden entrance.

*Street parking in Little Tokyo is also free on Sundays.
Generous support from dublab, Amoeba Records, LA Downtowner, L.A. Record, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Aratani Foundation & Bloomberg Philanthropies

Girma Yifrashewa – “The Shepherd with the Flute” Video Launch on Vimeo

Dexter Story with partners Radio Afrique and Azla Vegan launch video of Girma Yifrashewa performing “The  Shepherd with the Flute” live in South Pasadena, CA on March 25.

GIRMA YIFRASHEWA – “The Shepherd with the Flute”

Recorded March 25, 2015, live at The Carriage House in South Pasadena, CA.

Presented by Radio Afrique, Azla Vegan & Dexter Story.

Video by Mike Park & Maya Santos.

“This short piece is composed in such a way as to reflect the serene, simple rural life in Ethiopia. It also reflects my personal wishes for love, hope and understanding in our world. The theme is taken from a very popular and beloved composition “The Shepherd Flutist,” by the late Professor Ashenafi Kebede (1938-1998). The piano piece is dedicated to Prof. Ashenafi Kebede who has made an immense contribution to the growth of Ethiopian music.” – Girma Yifrashewa

Born in Addis Ababa in 1967, Girma Yifrashewa’s life in music began with the Kirar, a harp-like traditional Ethiopian string instrument, at a tender age. He was introduced to piano at the age of 16 when he joined the Yared School of Music in Addis Ababa, and continued his studies at the Sofia State Conservatory of Music in Bulgaria with the support of the Ethiopian government. Despite losing his scholarship after only three years due to the fall of the Communist regime in 1989, Yifrashewa emigrated to Italy where, while under the care of Caritas, his talent and desire to return to his studies in Bulgaria was discovered by the Christian Brothers. Through their support he was able to return to the Sofia Conservatory in 1991, where he graduated with a Masters in Piano under Professor Atanas Kurtev.

Yifrashewa returned to Ethiopia in 1995, teaching piano at the Yared School of Music until 2001. He received scholarships for short-term specialization courses from the British and German Governments, at the Royal Academy of Music in London (1997) and at the Hochschule fur Music Und Theater in Leipzig (1999). Currently Yifrashewa works to promote Ethiopian and Classical Music throughout the continent and beyond. | | | |


January 13, 2016 – Guest Lecturer: UCLA Ethnomusicology Course: Music From Around The World – Jan Popper Theatre, Los Angeles, CA

Dexter Story lectures on Ethiopian music and culture in UCLA Professor Jesse Ruskin’s ‘Music From Around The World’ undergraduate ethnomusicology course on Wednesday, January 13. Kibrom Birhane assisted me on vocals and massinqo.

jesse-ayansola-lrg One of the highlights of 2016 for me thus far was lecturing on Ethiopian music and culture in Dr. Jesse Ruskin’s “Music From Around The World” course at UCLA. I had never spoken publicly on Ethiopia outside of the music club or band stage and was honored by the invitation. Professor Ruskin started with a broad overview of the music of East Africa including a recap of his prior lectures, examples of regional migration patterns, musicians, traditional instruments, and then handed it off to me. I covered the origins of music from the Axumite kingdom and the beginnings of the Solomonic dynasty through the Christianization of Ethiopia and through the Swinging Addis modern music period of the 1960’s and 1970’s to the present techno-indigenous artistry of 2016. As an example of the liturgical language of the tewahedo orthodox church, I invited my friend Kibrom to sing in Ge’ez. His voice was incredibly beautiful. I shared with the students about my early encounters with Ethiopian culture during my undergraduate years at U.C. Berkeley, about the making of my new record #Wondem and about my recent 2-week explorational trip to Ethiopia. My presentation also included sheet music examples of the modes and rhythms as well as audio material. I look forward to doing it again soon and would like to thank Dr. Jesse Ruskin and the Department of Ethnomusicology at UCLA for allowing me to participate in the course. A final note: The irony of this lecture opportunity is that it happened as I am awaiting word about my application to the UCLA African Studies M.A. program.

Dr. Jesse D. Ruskin Bio:

Ruskin’s writing has appeared in the Journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology, Black Music Research Journal, Ethnomusicology Review, and most recently the Los Angeles Times. Forthcoming work will appear in the Yearbook for Traditional Music, the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World, and A Festschrift in Honor of Professor Emeritus J. H. Kwabena Nketia. He was Editor-in-Chief of the online academic journal Pacific Review of Ethnomusicology from 2006-2008.

LinkedIn Profile: Profile:

Specialty: Musical creativity and cultural entrepreneurship among Yorùbá musicians in Nigeria and the United States; audiovisual archiving; biographical methods in ethnomusicology; Cambodian American popular music.

Ph.D., Ethnomusicology, UCLA 2013; M.A., Ethnomusicology, UCLA 2006; B.A., Sociology/Music, Tufts University 1996

August 25-26, 2015 – Video Shoot: “Eastern Prayer” from Wondem Album – Los Angeles County

Shot video to “Eastern Prayer,” a track from the upcoming Wondem album release with director Anthony Valadez (KCRW) and director of photography Holly Port (Thundercat, J*Davey). The compelling video treatment features territory crossing from the Westside to the Eastside of a Los Angeles-esque Urban cityscape in search of someone to whom I can pass my coveted possession. I ultimately succeed when I encounter lead vocalist Nia Andrews who is willing to carry the torch. This is Anthony Valadez’s directorial debut.

Screen shot 2015-08-27 at 9.50.04 PM

Screen shot 2015-08-27 at 10.31.04 PM
Screen shot 2015-08-27 at 10.21.54 PM

Artist: Dexter Story
Song: Eastern Prayer (Featuring Nia Andrews)
Album: Wondem
Label: Soundway Records
Video Director: Anthony Valadez
Director of Cinematography: Holly Port
Video Premiere: TBD

Album Release: October 23, 2015

November 2, 2014 – Ethio Cali Plays Tezeta – Blue Whale, Downtown Los Angeles, CA

Playing aux keys, guitar and arranging with Ethio Cali live at Blue Whale playing the nostalgic Tezeta music of Ethiopia on Sunday, November 2.
ethio cali_2_4X6-1
On Sunday, November 2nd, Ethio Cali will play two sets of music inspired by the concept of Tezeta.

Tezeta, an Amharic word from Ethiopia, loosely translates to nostalgia or longing. Tezeta is also one of the popular musical scales found in Ethiopia. Typically, Tezeta is associated with the memory of love lost, or the longing one feels when living far from home or their place of birth. It triggers emotions similar to that of saudade in Portuguese music, duende in flamenco, or the blues in America.

We hope you’ll join us for this special night of Tezeta at the blue whale.


TODD SIMON – (trumpet, music director, arranging)
RANDAL FISHER – (saxophone)
DAMON AARON – (guitar)
ALAN LIGHTNER – (steel pan / percussion)
STEVE HANEY – (percussion)
DEXTER STORY – (keys, guitar, arranging)
TE’AMIR YOHANNES SWEENEY – (drums, percussion)

special guests:

YARED TESHALE – (vocals)

+ Traditional Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony by AZLA VEGAN

Sunday, November 2, 2014

$15 cover

Blue Whale
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 620-0908

September 30, 2013 – Popular Music of Ethiopia w/ Ethio Cali Ensemble Live – San Diego State University School of Music and Dance, San Diego, CA

Playing drum set with Todd Simon’s Ethio Cali Ensemble at San Diego State University for the School of Music and Dance on Monday, September 30 at 6pm.


San Diego State University School of Music & Dance Popular Music of Ethiopia ft. Ethio Cali Ensemble
Monday, September 30, 2013
6– 8pm
Cover: $12

San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182

July 4, 2013 – 4th of July Block Party featuring Ethio Cali – Grand Park, Downtown Los Angeles, CA

Playing drums with the awesome Ethio Cali band at Grand Park’s 4th of July Block Party.


Experience the 4th in a whole new way! Pack your family and friends, puppies and picnics and head to Grand Park to see Downtown LA light up in a spectacle not to be missed!

All day picnicking, splashing, and grubbing. Music begins at 3pm.

YOUR HOST / Anthony Valadez of KCRW

ARTISTS / Ethio Cali, Jungle Fire + surprise guests!


Prepared food picnics encouraged in the park. Grilling and cooking prohibited. Visitors may not bring alcoholic beverages into the park.

METRO RED LINE TO CIVIC CENTER / GRAND PARK STATION: Go Metro and save at  Take the Metro Red or Purple Lines to Civic Center/Grand Park Station.  To plan your route, use the Metro Trip Planner.

4th of July Block Party
Grand Park
200 North Grand Avenue
Los Angeles,CA 90012

May 25, 2013 – Recording Pre-Production Complete – Upcoming Wondem Album

Finished pre-production for upcoming 12-song Wondem album and delivered the album to co-producer / arranger / trumpetist Todd Simon to complete the body of work. Wondem is an Ethiopian/East African grooves record. Wondem means “brother” in Amharic and ties together the community concept of the album. The album features: Mark de Clive-Lowe, Te’Amir Sweeney, Randall Fisher, Damon Aaron, Alan Lightner, Semare-Ab Yohannes, Dustin Warren, nia andrews and Todd Simon.

Dexter Story
Wondem (also spelled Wendim)
Release Date: TBA
Label: TBA

January 31, 2013 – Todd Simon Presents Ethio Cali Live – The Blue Whale, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA

Playing drums and contributing songs for a special Ethio Cali live concert at The Blue Whale on Thursday, January 31, 2013. Ethio Cali is an all-star band that performs original music in the spirit of Ethiopia and world cultures lead by prolific arranger/composer/trumpetist Todd Simon. This venue is one of the group’s favorite venues and promises to be an exceptional show.


Ethio Whale 1-31

Photo courtesy of Farah Sosa. Please visit her website at
Photo courtesy of Farah Sosa. Please visit her website at

Ethio Cali Live
Thursday, January 31, 2013
The Blue Whale
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 620-0908


December 1, 2012 – Ethio Cali Ensemble Live – Del Monte Speakeasy, Venice, CA

Playing drum set with Todd Simon’s Ethio Cali Jazz Ensemble on Saturday, December 1st in Venice. The Del Monte Speakeasy hosts a weekend night of funky Ethiopian fusion with the Ethio Cali band at The Del Monte Speakeasy underneath The Townhouse Venice. The band includes Todd Simon on trumpet/flugelhorn, Kamasi Washington on tenor saxophone, Alan Lightner on steel pan, Itai Shapira on guitar, Patrick Bailey on bass guitar, Steve Haney on percussion and Dexter Story on drums. Don’t miss this special concert.

Ethio Cali Ensemble
Saturday, December 1, 2012
The Del Monte Speakeasy
52 Windward Avenue

Commentary: I’ve been playing in Ethio Cali for over a year and we are sounding better than ever. All of the members are delving deeper into the music and culture of Ethiopia and it shows. The Del Monte Speakeasy is actually a good fit for us as we love the acoustics of the low ceiling stage and the vibe is right. I will contribute a few arrangements to the show and look forward to having you hear them.