August 26, 2018 – Dexter Story & Wondem Live @ Beat Tropíc – Ojai Rancho Inn, Ojai, CA

Dexter Story & Wondem band perform a live set at Beat Tropíc in Ojai on Sunday, August 26, 2018 along with Mark “DJ Frosty” McNeil of Dublab.

Beat Tropíc WondemWondem Beat TropicBeat Tropic Wondem DexBeat Tropic WondemJustin ThomasDublab Beat TropicFlyer Beat Tropic

Beat Tropíc
Co-presented by dublab

Sunday August 26th from 1-7pm, poolside at Ojai Rancho Inn *no cover*


w/ DJs Earthtones & John Ramar
& guest DJ Frosty

An afternoon of Ethiopian + East African
Jazz, Soul, Funk & Folk Rhythms

Commentary: What a pleasure it was performing the music of Dr. Mulatu Astatke and other Ethiopian luminaries live in such a peaceful setting. Much love and respect to the musicians Brandon, Carlos, Justin and Kibrom, Serge and his colleagues, Frosty, and everyone who came out. I don’t take your support for granted. Thank you. Ameseganelehu.

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.

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.

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. | | | |


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

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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

March 25, 2015 – Radio Afrique, Azla Vegan and Dexter Story Present Girma Yifrashewa in Concert – The Carriage House, South Pasadena, CA

Co-presenting (with Radio Afrique and Azla Vegan) an evening of Ethiopian Classical Music featuring renowned pianist Girma Yifrashewa at South Pasadena’s Carriage House on Wednesday, March 25, 2015.


Girma Yifrashewa Flyer


A rare Los Angeles solo performance by Ethiopia’s renowned pianist and composer, Girma Yifrashewa.

Born in 1967 in Addis Ababa, Girma Yifrashewa combines the ecstasy of Ethiopian harmony with the grandeur of virtuoso piano technique. Yifrashewa has trained at renowned institutions including the Yared School of Music in Ethiopia, Sofia State Conservatory in Bulgaria, the Royal Academy of Music in London, and the Hochschule fur Music Und Theater in Germany. A highly accomplished performer of classical repertoire, Yifrashewa has chosen to remain in Ethiopia, helping to forge a classical tradition for his country.

Currently, Yifrashewa works to promote Ethiopian and Classical Music through cultural commissions and tours throughout Africa, Europe and beyond.

This intimate performance hosted at The Carriage House will be Yifrashewa’s only Los Angeles appearance on this tour.

We invite you to join us for this truly special occasion.

An Evening of Ethiopian Classical Music with

7pm / 2 Sets / $20

The Carriage House
1215 Garfield Ave.
South Pasadena, CA 91030

Tickets available at

Light fare & coffee ceremony by Azla Vegan

Presented by Radio Afrique, Dexter Story & Azla Vegan
Photo by Victor G. Jeffreys II

Born in Addis Ababa in 1967, Girma Yifrashewa’s life in music began with the Kirar, a traditional Ethiopian harp. Introduced to piano at the age of 16 at the Yared School of Music in Addis Ababa, he later studied at the Sofia State Conservatory of Music in Bulgaria. When the fall of the Communist regime in 1989 ended his scholarship, he emigrated to Italy, returning to the Sofia Conservatory in 1991 to earn a Masters in Piano under Professor Atanas Kurtev. In Bulgaria he made an impact as a solo pianist, performing the works of Schumann, Schubert, Chopin, and Debussy until his return to Ethiopia in 1995.

After returning to Ethiopia in 1995, Yifrashewa taught piano at the Yared School of Music until 2001. Following the passing of Ethiopian composer Ashenafi Kebede in 1998, Yifrashewa moved beyond his conservatory repertoire and began his career as a composer, penning the composition “The Shepherd With The Flute” – an homage to Kebede’s most famous work, “The Shepherd Flutist.”

Since then, Yifrashewa has established himself a pre-eminent composer of Ethiopia, touring Africa and Europe extensively. His first US release, Love and Peace (Unseen Worlds), was released in 2014.

MISCELLANEOUS ARTWORK: Pianist Girma Yifrashewa by Dexter Story

I created these in tribute to Ethiopian pianist and composer Girma Yifrashewa who is performing on Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at The Carriage House in South Pasadena. I used my hand and Photoshop. Click here for more information about the event.

Girma 1Girma 2

February 12, 2015 – Radio Afrique Presents Dexter Story and Wondem Live – Blue Whale, Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA

Performing music from the upcoming Soundway Recording inspired by Ethiopian, Somalian, Eritrean, Sudanese and Kenyan sounds, and featuring members of Ethio Cali and friends.
wondem_image2 wondem_cardRadio Afrique Presents
Dexter Story & Wondem (Live)
Thursday, February 12, 2015
8pm | $15 | 21+ |
Blue Whale
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka Street
Little Tokyo Los Angeles

September 12, 2014 – Metro Presents Ethiopian New Year Celebration w/ Ethio Cali Live – Union Station @ Fred Harvey Room, Los Angeles, CA

Playing various instruments with Ethio Cali Ensemble live at Union Station celebrating the Ethiopian New Year on Friday, September 12.

Ethio Cali in Studio

Ethio Cali is a Los Angeles based Ethio-Jazz ensemble, led by trumpeter, arranger, and composer Todd Simon.  The ensemble’s sublime sound is inspired by the golden age of Ethiopian music of the 1960s and 70s, filtered through a lens that is uniquely Los Angeles.  Acknowledging the diverse musical foundations of Ethio-Jazz, the ensemble also draws inspiration from the rhythmic and melodic textures of Sudan, Somalia, Ghana, and Colombia.

Admission is free and on a first-come, first-served basis.

7:45pm Doors
8pm DJ set by Jeremy Sole (KCRW, TheLift, Afro Funké)
8:15p Ethio Cali first set
9p DJ set with Jeremy Sole
9:15p Ethio Cali second set

Ethiopian New Year Celebration w/ Ethio Cali Live
Friday, September 12, 2014
Fred Harvey Room
Union Station
800 North Alameda St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

November 17, 2013 – Ethio Cali Plays Semena Werk (aka Wax and Gold): Ethiopian Songs Curated by Sonny Abegaze – Blue Whale, Little Tokyo, Downtown Los Angeles, CA

Playing with Todd Simon’s Ethio Cali Ensemble at The Blue Whale in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo on Sunday, November 17. Ethio Cali will play music from the Wax & Gold (aka Semena Werq) period selected by group co-founder and peripheral bandmate Sonny Abegaze. The group will feature a string section for the first time.

Wax & Gold Flyer 5Image

Thank you to all our old and new friends who joined us last month for the first night of our monthly residency at the Blue Whale.  It was a magical night performing the Mulatu of Ethiopia album with legendary saxophonist Justo Almario.

This month, Ethio Cali will invoke the spirit of ‘Semena Werq’ (aka Wax and Gold) and perform a new set of songs from the catalogues of Hailu Mergia & Walias, Alemayehu Eshete, The Police Orchestra, and other luminaries of Ethio Jazz.  Semena Werq is a form of traditional Ethiopian poetry that has one surface meaning, known as wax, and multiple hidden meanings, known as gold.  Musicians have used Semena Werk to explore topics such as spirituality, politics, and matters of the heart.  We look forward to exploring the many layers of meaning contained within the music we will be performing.

For this performance, we will also feature an amazing string section for the first time.  Please join us for what promises to be another special night. 

Todd Simon’s Ethio Cali Ensemble Plays Wax & Gold (Semena Werq)
Curator: Sonny Abegaze
Sunday, November 17, 2013
123 Astronaut E S Onizuka St #301
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 620-0908

Commentary: The technique of “Wax & Gold” is the basic double entendre structure of Ethiopian poetry where in addition to the obvious meaning of the text (wax) there is also another meaning (gold) hidden within the poem. Qene (or qiné) are the poetic forms used during this interpretation but during the Derg (1974 – 1987), semena werq often enabled singers to criticize the government without upsetting the censors. Semena Werq is used here to group the diverse range of Ethiopian musical expression that we will attempt to play.

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

September 9, 2012 – Ethiopian New Year at Little Ethiopia Festival with Ethio-Cali Ensemble – Little Ethiopia, Los Angeles, CA

Playing drum set with Ethio-Cali Ensemble at the Ethiopian New Year celebration taking place at Little Ethiopia Festival on September 9, 2012. Todd Simon’s Ethio-Cali Ensemble features Simon on trumpet, flugelhorn and arrangements, Kamasi Washington or Tracy Wannomae on saxophone, Alan Lightner on steel pan, Steve Haney on percussion, Itai Shapira on guitar and Patrick Bailey on bass guitar. The group plays original roots Ethiopian music including the music of Mulatu Astatke. Little Ethiopia refers to the stretch of Fairfax Avenue in the Carthay district of Los Angeles, California between Olympic and Pico Boulevards. Showtime: TBD.