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Feel the Tizita. LA's Dexter Story finds inspiration in Little Ethiopia

Los Angeles musician and composer Dexter Story
Los Angeles musician and composer Dexter Story
Farah Sosa

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Off-Ramp recommends you go see world music royalty next weekend, when Nigeria's King Sunny Ade plays the Regent Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. And make sure to come early for the opening act: Dexter Story & Wondem. Dublab's Mark McNeill spoke with Story at a restaurant in Little Ethiopia.

Little Ethiopia is the long block of Fairfax between Olympic and Whitworth in LA's Mid-Wilshire district. It's a compact stretch of shops and restaurants bursting with flavor and inspiration.

This tiny neighborhood inspired the LA composer and multi-instrumentalist Dexter Story to make his latest album "Wondem,"  which means "brother" in Amharic, a Semitic language spoken in Ethiopia. 

"It's always fun to walk the street here and see people of the culture, Ethiopians on the street," Story says. "To smell the injera (Ethiopian spongy flatbread) and doro wat (Ethiopian chicken stew). And then the music. It's so expansive, so vast and romantic. I'm feeling tizita, which is the national sentiment of nostalgia."

Story had never been to Ethiopia until last year, but says he's frequently mistaken for an Ethiopian, and takes it as a compliment. "My hope with someone that comes across 'Wondem,'" he says, "is they hear the love in it, they hear my heart, they hear my passion, that their spirit is uplifted.

Listen to Dexter Story's "Wondem" on Spotify

August 14, 8pm: King Sunny Adé Live, with opening act Dexter Story & Wondem. The Regent Theatre, 448 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013. 18+. Tickets are $24.50 - $32.50.