30 September 2005

Allah Made Me Funny

Well, no, not me personally. Nothing against Allah, I'm just not that funny. Fortunately, Preacher Moss is... so funny in fact that he's on the road with the The Official Muslim Comedy Tour. I admit, I don't know who deemed it "official," but maybe that's part of the joke.

Like Swami Beyondananda, Preacher Moss apparently has the confidence and wisdom to believe that if we don't laugh, we'll end up crying. That and the desire to dispel misconceptions (like: Muslims are all humorless extremists) and present a different face of Islam. Touring with Moss are Azhar "The Ayatollah of Comedy" Usman, and Azeem. They're at Bellevue's Maydenbauer Center (11100 NE 6th Street) on Sunday Oct. 2 at 3pm and 6pm. more details here.

Spin the Globe radio show will feature an interview with Preacher Moss Friday Sept. 30 around 11:00 a.m. (Pacific time). Catch it on KAOS 89.3fm or via live webstream at kaosradio.org

By the way, I just ran across a Muslim news site that may bend those entrenched stereotypes of Muslims that your friends may have (certainly not you!). Check out alt.muslim ("member, axis of good")

29 September 2005

Daughters of Tuva on Tour

With the exception of avant garde musical rebel Sainkho Namtchylak, throat singing has remained largely the realm of male singers. Is it just tradition, or are those growly and whistly overtones particularly difficult for women to create? Find out in person by catching Tyva Kyzy (The Daughters of Tuva) who begin a USA West-coast tour in October. The Western Washington dates include a concert at the just-opened Center for the Arts at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia at 7:30 p.m. Saturday Oct. 15 (advance tickets at SPSCC or brownpapertickets.com). $15 general, $7 students.

Song samples:
"Setkilimden Syrgek Yr-dyr (cheerful song from the soul)"
"Ayak Shaim (a cup of Tuvan milk tea)"

Tour Schedule
Saturday, October 8, 1:00pm
Port Angeles Fine Art Center
1203 East Lauridsen Boulevard, Port Angeles, WA
Outdoor Concert, bring chairs and/or blanket. Some seating provided
www.pafac.org

Sunday, October 9, 7:00pm
J. Wheeler Theatre, Fort Worden State Park, Port Townsend, WA

Monday, October 10, 2005, 10:00 pm
Ethnic Cultural Center, University of Washington
3931 Brooklyn Ave NE, Seattle WA
www.depts.washington.edu/ecc/theatre.htm

Thursday, October 13, 2005, 7:30pm
Town Hall, 1119 8th Avenue, Seattle, WA
www.townhallseattle.org

Friday, October 14, 2005, 7:30pm
Island Center Hall, 8395 Fletcher Bay Road, Bainbridge Island, WA
ADVANCE TICKETS: available through the Bainbridge Park District
(206) 842-2306 (Georgia)
www.biparks.org/parks/islandcenter.html

Saturday, October 15, 7:00 pm
South Puget Sound Community College
Main Theatre, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW, Olympia, WA
ADVANCE TICKETS: www.brownpapertickets.com
www.spscc.ctc.edu

Then they're off to Oregon and California. See complete tour schedule here

28 September 2005

Bruce Lee Bonds Bosnians

Bluce ReeImage by Canolais via FlickrTorn by civil war, Bosnia needs a symbol. A symbol of unity, of compassion, of bridge-building between distrustful ethnic communities. Only one man could possibly fit this demanding role.

Bruce Lee.

Yes, a life-size bronze statue of the kung-fu action hero will be erected in Spanish Square in central Mostar to remind residents of "loyalty, friendship, skill, and justice." Writer Veselin Gatalo, who came up with the statue proposal, says: "Lee is a true international hero and is a hero to all ethnicities in Bosnia and that's why we picked him."

While not without a touch of surrealism, there's something refreshing about the honesty of this choice - a popular entertainment figure rather than a politician or historic hero.

We in the Northwest also have a special affection for Bruce Lee (he lived in Seattle and majored in Philosophy at the University of Washington). One of his favorite philosophers was Krishnamurti, whose words echo meaning for Bosnians and everyone else: "To divide anything into what should be and what is, is the most deceptive way of dealing with life."

26 September 2005

Monday's mp3: African Show Boyz - music & magic from Ghana

The African Show Boyz area group of brothers from Binaba, a tiny village in the northeast region of Ghana. They got their start as street performers, playing homemade calabash gourd instruments, singing, and performing magic tricks. Along the way they caught the ear of drum master Babatunde Olatunji, who became something of a patron for them. They're also deeply into reggae/rasta culture, sprinkling their live performances with references to Jah and covers of Bob Marley tunes. (Their first CD Spiritual Song includes covers of "Redemption Song" and "Three Little Birds.") This track, a tribute to Olatunjui, is from their most recent CD, Brothers Bold, which they are currently supporting by touring with Karl Denson's Tiny Universe.

Monday's mp3: African Show Boyz: "Babatunde Olatunji"

USA tour schedule:
9/27 - Bellingham, WA www.nightlightlounge.com
9/28 - Seattle, WA www.chopsuey.com
9/29 - Ketchum, ID
9/30 - Denver, CO www.gothictheatre.com
10/1 - Salt Lake, NV www.portocall.com
10/2 - Las Vegas, NV www.hob.com
10/7 - Sedona, AZ www.globalchangemusic.org
10/8 - Bisbee, AZ Kilimanjaro
10/9 - Flagstaff, AZ www.orpheumpresents.com
10/11 - Tuscon, AZ Rialto Theatre
10/13 - Santa Cruz, CA Don Quixotes
10/16 - Joshua Tree, CA Festival
10/20-22 - San Diego, CA workshops
10/23 - San Diego, CA World Beat Center

23 September 2005

Introducing Daby Balde (CD review)

DABY BALDE: INTRODUCING DABY BALDE
(Introducing/World Music Network)

Here in the West, people sometimes have difficulty distinguishing different countries in Africa, much less different regions. But a little geography helps explain the music of singer Daby Balde, who hails from the region of Casamance in Senegal's south. Casamance, cut off from the north of Senegal, is a diverse area (sandwiched between Gambia and Guinea-Bissau) with music distinct from the Dakar sound. A former taxi driver, Balde has a pure crisp voice with a hint of gruffness, and the musical arrangements are airtight. You'll understand the lyrics only if you speak Fula (a few songs are in Wolof, Mandinka, or French), but the liner notes suggest themes of culture, hard work, love, betrayal, home. "Waino Blues" provides a reverse bridge from Africa back to American blues; "Halaname" pays melodic tribute to "the best person in the world"; and the mournful "Hakurujamane" insists over acoustic guitars that "we are at the end of the world / We have to try to do good things / To do bad things will bring the end of the world sooner." World Music Network's "Introducing" imprint has presented another winner to the world in Daby Balde.

Buy CD / Hear sample audio

22 September 2005

Ladysmith Black Mambazo Thrills...and Chills

LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO: LIVE AT MONTREUX (Eagle Records) buy CD/DVD & hear samples
LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO: THE CHILLOUT SESSIONS (Rasa)
buy CD & hear samples

The Zulu-gospel-rooted South African group needs no introduction, not since Paul Simon's Graceland and their own albums catapulted them into mainstream musical consciousness. These two new offerings, however, will appeal to dramatically different audiences. The first is classic LBM, recorded live at the 1987, 1989, and 2000 Montreux Jazz Festivals. Their powerful voices ring out in glorious harmony, the sound crisp and clear for a live festival recording. A welcome addition to the collection of any Ladysmith Black Mambazo fan.

While LBM has had successful musical collaborations with artists including Dolly Parton, Desree, and Kermit the Frog, The Chillout Sessions leaves me rather, er..., cold. The electronic music is tastefully done, sure. But the music tends to dilute the power of those wonderful vocal harmonies and strip them of emotional intensity. Maybe that's the intention of "chillout", but who wants music that's a pale remix of the original? This one is okay as soft background music, but for the real deal, go for Live at Montreux or LBM's other vocal-only albums.

19 September 2005

Monday's mp3: She Seemed Like Such a Sweet Girl...

Kronos Quartet & Asha Bhosle
You've Stolen My Heart: Songs from R.D. Burman's Bollywood

Ever read the lyrics to a familiar song only to discover you had no idea the real meaning? I just had one of those moments. Some years back, the song "Dum Maro Dum" snuck into my consciousness. Its catchy refrain can easily get lodged in your brain, and I figured that wasn't such a bad thing, since the refrain includes the Vaishnava chant "Hare Krishna, Hare Ram."

Boy did I have it wrong. The notes to this new CD of collaborations between the audacious Kronos Quartet and the prolific Asha Bhosle tell a sordid tale. The song is from the 1971 film Hare Rama, Hare Krishna, which tells the tale of a wayward Indian girl who's fallen in with a hippie commune in Katmandu. She sings of "the nihilistic joys of smoking your cares away." The song title, by the way, translates as "Take Another Toke."

Monday's Mp3: Kronos Quartet & Asha Bhosle: "Dum Maro Dum"

Buy the CD

17 September 2005

The End of New Orleans?

Sure, Haliburton will get billions of dollars to rebuild the city. But is there any way to restore the spirit of the place, or has it, along with the foul floodwaters, been pumped out of the city and flushed out to sea forever? WWOZ general manager David Freedman is keeping a blog documenting the radio station's struggles to get back on the air, and the cultural changes that are afoot. Here's an excerpt:

The battle lines will be drawn—those who care about restoring the charm of New Orleans as well as the physical infrastructure, and those who only see the bottom line. Who will get to decide? I understand that the national chapter of the American Institute of Architects met yesterday to address the issue. I have heard directly from the Urban Conservancy, and indirectly from the Historic National Trust. The mayor has just announced that he is appointing a commission of 8 blacks and 8 whites to determine the direction of the reconstruction effort in N ew Orleans. Who would he appoint? Would the suits make the city over in their own image? Or would free spirits still prevail? Someone wrote me that he had read a quote from a doctor in slate.com, who's been doing emergency work in the city and feeding his elderly neighbors who aren't evacuating. When asked if he shouldn't go to Houston at least to get a tetanus shot, he replied, "I'd rather get lockjaw than live in Houston."
Read more....
Or contribute to WWOZ's rebuilding fund.

16 September 2005

World Music Top 10 - September

SoundRoots/Spin the Globe
World Music Top 10
September 2005


1. Femi Kuti: Live at the Shrine
2. Yerba Buena
: Island Life
3. Freshlyground
: Nomvula
4. Various Artists: Women Care
5. Thione Seck: Orientation
6. Shukar Collective: Urban Gypsy
7. Horace X: Strategy
8. Balkan Beat Box: Balkan Beat Box
9. Daby Balde: Introducing Daby Balde
10.African Show Boyz: Brothers Bold

Vicarious Travel with Andy HoboTraveler.com


Stuck in one place? Need a virtual vacation? Check out the blog of Andy HoboTraveler.com (yes, as far as I can tell that's his actual name). Currently in Niger, Andy writes frequently about his travels, his thoughts on aid, poverty, food, transportation, and more, along with some gorgeous photos. He may not write with the best grammar or poetic descriptions, but he's on the ground in Niger, and provides a fascinating glimpse of a place I may never see in person.

15 September 2005

Save Darfur! Sudan Benefit in Olympia

Remember that amid our generosity for those affected by hurricane Katrina, the rest of the world is still out there, and many others are in need as well. Tomorrow you'll have a chance to learn more about and help the people of Sudan. Listen to Spin the Globe from 10-noon (Pacific time) for music, information, Sudan-related interviews, and CD giveaways. Then head downtown for this show, where I'll be spinning Sudanese tunes from 7-9pm along with other great entertainment. See you there.

'SAVE DARFUR!' Benefit Dance for Sudan @ Eagles Hall, Olympia

Friday September 16th from 7pm to 2am
Eagles Hall 805 4th Ave E, Olympia
ALL AGES
$10 cover
21+ Beer Garden

Featuring: Laura "Piece" Kelly, The Rebelz, Steven Kattenbraker, Ra Scion, the Swim Team, Bonecandy, A Kamp, "Lost Boy" speaker from Sudan, and Live DJs including dj earball of KAOS spinning music from SUDAN. Also poetry readings of original works by members of Olympia Poetry Network and other live acts, plus a photo exhibit of the crisis in Darfur.

Proceeds will go to Mercy Corps and Doctors w/out Borders
Presented by Olympia Amnesty International
for more info, or to volunteer, contact: olyamnesty@riseup.net or call (360)956-0213
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14 September 2005

Sounds Eclectico - Live Alt Latin from KCRW

VARIOUS ARTISTS: SOUNDS ECLECTICO (Nacional)
buy CD
Lovers of modern Latin music will drool over this 16-track compilation of live recordings from the studios of KCRW. The disc features some of the biggest and hottest bands in the Alt Latin universe: Cafe Tacuba, Sidestepper, Juana Molina, Aterciopelados, Manu Chao, Ozomatli, El Gran Silencio. The fine song notes include the invitation extended to KCRW host Nic Harcourt by 70-year-old Cuban chantruese Omara Portuondo to join her in her hotel room (he would have gone, he says, but he had a girlfriend). A great sampler of new Latin sounds from ballads to electronica to hiphop - just don't expect your abuelo's traditional music! Would love to hear more from the KCRW vaults!
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13 September 2005

Bollywood-Dakar-Cairo... It's Thione Seck!

THIONE SECK: ORIENTATION--EGYPT-INDIA-SENEGAL (Stern's Africa)
buy CD/hear samples

What the heck kind of West African album starts with the trilling strings of an oud? That's the kind of question you might ask if you haven't already heard Youssou N'Dour's Africa-meets-Middle East project Egypt. The rich Muslim influence in Senegal accounts for that, and for the Egypt part of this new CD from singer-songwriter Thione Seck. But India? Well, it turns out that the Dakar theaters Seck frequented showed Bollywood films, and he became a fan of playback singer sisters Asha Bhosle and Lata Mangeshkar. This CD is an attempt to wrap all of these into a single package. Seck's singing is powerful throughout, whether with the swelling strings on "Siiw (Celebrity)" or with the drums and backup chorus on "Blain Djigueul (The Death of a Close Friend)," making this gorgeous album a strong candidate for our favorite albums of 2005.

12 September 2005

Katrina Relief Concert-Olympia WA

Details just in on the multi-artist benefit here in Olympia. Entitled "Concert for Hurricane Relief" the show will be held at Olympia's Washington Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, September 22, 2005 at 7:30 pm. All tickets for the concert are $25.

The show features nine local musical artists:
  • Dennis Hastings Quartet, The number one male Jazz vocalist in the northwest music scene today.
  • LaVon Hardison, A stunningly gifted vocalist blending the Jazz and Blues and Gospel traditions.
  • The Chris Ward Band, No stranger to charitable works, Chris Ward is A Warner Brothers Country and Western Star from our local community. Called "the Voice" by his peers, Chris is the future of Country music.
  • Bevy, A very popular 7 piece woman's Latin Jazz ensemble. The music of Cuba and much more.
  • Bump Kitchen, One of the hottest funk bands to come out of the northwest.
  • Red Brown & The Tune Stranglers, A very exciting and classic Country Swing and Old Time Music group. Receiving a lot of press recently.
  • The New Life Baptist Church Choir; A stunning gospel choir exemplary of the richness of our community.
  • BeBop Revisited: In the jazz tradition of the 40's and 50's Master Saxophonist Bert Wilson, veteran of the Harry James band Jack Perciful and Northwest legend Chuck Stentz join in this classic ensemble.
  • Obrador; For nearly 30 years this internationally acclaimed group has fused Afro-Caribbean, Rhythm and Blues, and Jazz traditions. Considered a northwest treasure.
A limited number of tickets are available for $50 and include delightful southern-style hors d'oeuvres the Black Box Theater provided by Plenty, Ramblin' Jacks, and Budd Bay Café. That will also have a premium reserved seat for the show. There will be a raffle held in the Black Box for a chance to win a basket full of gift certificates good for dinner for two at many local area restaurants. There will be collection boxes in the lobby for new personal hygiene products, non-perishable canned food and other items to help with the influx of evacuees that will begin to arrive in Thurston County in the next few weeks. All money collected will go to assist the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
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Monday's mp3: Iraq-The Dance of War

Ahmed Mukhtar
The Road to Baghdad: New Maqams from Iraq (ARC Music)

This album by Iraqi Ahmed Mukhtar is full of wonderful, sparse songs often, not surprisingly, about war. "After the War," "Dance of War," and "Motherly" concern the effects of war, while other songs talk of Iraq's rich history and geography. Read more about Mukhtar and his musical journey at the BBC's Musician Stories.

Monday's mp3: Ahmed Mukhtar "Dance of War"

Buy the CD
Ahmed Mukhtar's website
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11 September 2005

African Show Boyz - Ghana in Olympia

AFRICAN SHOW BOYZ: BROTHERS BOLD (Across The Way Productions)

This unique band from Ghana is made up of five brothers, who began their career as street performers (you can see clips in the DVD 1 Giant Leap). Their music is raw roots - drumming and singing and traditional instruments including kone, bin bill, bin douk, siyak, sisans, tonton sansan, mnan, fritusuwa, and durun, and the understated melodies and tight arrangements keep the music engaging and accessible. Their previous CD Spiritual Song featured several Bob Marley tunes. This one does feature an English-language track ("Suffer in Africa") but most of the music is the sound of the savannah highlands of Ghana's upper east. The closing track is a tribute to Babatunde Olatunji, an early supporter of their music. The African Show Boyz are currently touring the USA, and play at Olympia's Capitol Theater on September 25 (see calendar). Highly recommended!
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08 September 2005

Musical Relief

I know you've already given this year for the Tsunami, for Sudan, for Katrina. But the world still needs you. If you've already made a cash donation, then shift your strategy and do a little holiday shopping at CDbaby. The great indie-artist online music store just announced that many of their artists are donating 100% of their sales proceeds to Katrina relief. (and we mentioned earlier that Putumayo is doing the same thing with a couple of their CDs). That means thousands of CDs - give the gift of music with a note saying the money went to a good cause, and you double the listening (and giving) pleasure. Here's a sampling of what's available:
  • BOB MARLEY: another voice of bob marley
  • IRENE FARRERA & VENEZUELA VIVA: serenata
  • MANISH VYAS & DINA AWWAD: sufi splendor
  • IKWUNGA: calabash afrobeat-poems by ikwunga vol.1
  • VIOLET SAMUDRA: bliss beyond
  • CORREO AEREO: lo que me dijo el viento
  • RAQUY AND THE CAVEMEN: jordan
  • GREG RIBOT &CUMBIA DEL NORTE: the international conspiracy
  • MOTHERDRUM: drumming inside mother earth
  • ZION JUDAH: divine creation
  • CELTIC HARVEST LIVE: irish musicians for autism
You can browse the full list here.
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07 September 2005

Freshlyground South African Pop

FRESHLYGROUND: NOMVULA (Freeground/Sony BMG) - CD review
From South Africa comes the group Freshlyground; their new CD Nomvula blends African roots with irresistibly catchy pop melodies. And Zolani Mahola's swooping vocals (in both English and African languages) are reminiscent of an early Gwen Stefani - in a very good way. This is the kind of group that could achieve serious global success, because their African-rooted pop is so universal and appealing.

Musically Freshlyground ranges from slow pop ballads ("Nomvula" and "Buttercup") to Safrojazz-inspired dance tunes ("Zithande" and "Mowbray Kaap") to world lounge ("Manyana"). I'd swear that Phil Collins must have had a hand in the poignant, pleading "Father Please." And while not all of their lyrics are translated in the liner notes, the typical pop themes of love and loss are augmented by enigmatic phrases evoking global unity and general positive vibrations. Honestly, even reading the lyrics I don't know what half of them are about. But with such feel-good music, it doesn't matter a whit. On the slow ballad "Human Angels" Mahola sings what might be the Freshlyground them: "Forget about your destiny. Get off your feet and live!"

Band Website
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06 September 2005

First "World Music" Memories

If you're reading this, chances are you're already interested in "world music," perhaps even a fervent collector of sounds from around the planet. If so, help out the newbies by posting a response to a couple questions:
  1. What is your first "world music" memory (an album? a concert?)
  2. When asked, how do you explain "world music"?
I'll post my own answers in coming days as well. For now, you might content yourself by scooting over to the fRoots site and reading about the history of "world music" starting with its birth as a marketing label on Monday June 29th, 1987.

05 September 2005

Monday's mp3: New Orleans' Wild Tchoupitoulas

Wild Tchoupitoulas
The Mardi Gras Indians are a less-known side of New Orleans, and as the city continues to struggle this week, they called out to be included in this week's song posting. The Wild Tchoupitoulas were one of the first N.O. Indian tribes to record an album. The self-titled disc, recorded in 1976 and produced by the legendary Allen Toussaint, also marked the first time that the Neville Brothers recorded together. For more on the traditions and history of the Mardi Gras Indians, see this site. And join me in hoping and praying that this cultural and musical tradition was not washed away in the floodwaters this week.

Monday's mp3: The Wild Tchoupitoulas "Hey Hey (Indians Comin')"

Buy the CD

04 September 2005

New Orleans: Who's In Charge Here?

Why is there so much surprise and outrage about the Bush administration's reponse to New Orleans (and the rest of the devastated Gulf coast). Really, let's review:
  • September 11, 2001
    Crisis: Airplane attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
    Immediate reaction: President Bush remains in classroom reading "My Pet Goat."
  • March 20, 2003
    Crisis: None.
    Reaction: Massive invasion of a country that posed no apparent threat to the USA.
  • August 30, 2005
    Crisis: 80% of New Orleans flooded, tens of thousands of refugees from Hurricane Katrina
    Reaction: Bush plays guitar, Condi Rice shops for shoes & takes in a Broadway show.
Are we sensing the leadership style here? And the delegation from the top doesn't seem any better. I used to hear that Bush had gotten this far in politics by appointing and surrounding himself with smart people. Too bad he didn't do this with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The main job qualification of current FEMA chief Mike Brown seems to have been a connection with Bush, since his work as an estate lawyer and a commissioner of judges and stewards for the International Arabian Horse Association (a job from which he was fired) don't really seem pertinent to overseeing national disaster response.

This is leadership?

That said, please go back to caring for and donating to the victims of this disaster. When that's done, let's work to rearrange the political landscape.

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03 September 2005

World Music for Katrina Relief

Musicians are jumping into the Katrina relief effort - I'm hearing of plans (no details yet) of a benefit show featuring jazz musicians here in Olympia. Others are organizing across the country, with efforts including:
  • DeltaAid: Hurricane Relief Concert - Tuesday, September 27, at 7 p.m. at the Arts Center in Carrboro, North Carolina, featuring, among others, Malian kora player Mamadou Diabate.
  • Putumayo World Music is donating all proceeds through the end of the year from its critically acclaimed albums New Orleans and Mississippi Blues to relief efforts.
  • Music for Relief: On Saturday, September 10th, multiple live concerts will air on MTV, VH1, and CMT to raise donations and awareness for the Hurricane Katrina disaster. For details, see musicforrelief.org.
  • Not as musical but right at the grass roots is MoveOn.org's hurricanehousing.org which matches up refugees with people willing to provide them free housing. Something I'd certainly do if I wasn't thousands of miles away...
  • Finally, if like me you've got pets as members of your family, you might consider an additional donation to the Humane Society of the United States disaster relief fund. Their Disaster Animal Response Teams are now in Louisiana and Mississippi coordinating a multi-state animal rescue and recovery effort.
If you're making a cash donation, be sure to verify the group is legitimate. Here in Washington State you can do so by calling the Secretary of State's toll free Charities Information Hotline at 1-800-332-4483. The Secretary of State's Web site as www.secstate.wa.gov/charities offers an online lookup of charities registrations, tips, and statutes governing charitable solicitations.

02 September 2005

World Music Top 10 - 2 Sept 2005

Spin the Globe/KAOS CMJ New World Top 10
for the week ending 2 September 2005

1 DIENEBA SECK La Verite / The Truth
2 JUAN-CARLOS FORMELL Cemeteries And Desire
3 AMADOU BALAKE Taximen
4 ROUGH GUIDE TO THE MUSIC OF BRAZIL: BAHIA Various Artists
5 PUTUMAYO PRESENTS SWING AROUND THE WORLD Various Artists
6 AMADOU AND MARIAM Dimanche A Bamako
7 SALOME DE BAHIA Brasil
8 BAABA MAAL Palm World Voices: Senegal
9 JOANNE GRIFFITH Yoye
10 FIDDLER'S BID Naked & Bare

Lower Gas Prices, Cleaner Air

Sounds good, eh? That's what should be in store for a number of cities in China, where the government is taking strong steps to control smog. One of these steps is to outlaw all gasoline-powered scooters and mopeds. By the end of the year, the only legal scooters in Shanghai will be those powered by LPG, propane, or batteries. Okay, this may not put a huge dent in demand for gasoline and thus gas prices, but it sure can't hurt. But, you ask, what does this have to do with me? Could this happen outside of China? The answer is...who knows?

I haven't heard of any cities in the US considering such a ban. But this ban will spark new work on alternative technologies, which certainly will trickle out in the form of cleaner, more efficient small engines. Maybe there's a propane/LPG lawnmower in your future, or maybe you'd consider an
electric bike for errands around town. (Taiwan's Giant company now has a 30-kg bike that uses a superefficient lithium-ion battery and zips along at up to 25 kilometers per hour over a 32-km range.)

Maybe this is one way that the high gas prices could be good - forcing innovation that makes cities cleaner, quieter, and more livable. Wouldn't be such a bad thing.

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01 September 2005

Cuba Meets New Orleans in Olympia: Juan-Carlos Formell

On September 7, a rare Cuban musical treat comes to Olympia in the form of Juan-Carlos Formell. A Grammy-nominateed singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Formell has been praised for his progressive rhythms and harmonies, his virtuosity on guitar and bass, and his lyrical songwriting. His new CD "Cemeteries and Desire" is a tribute inspired by a trip he took to New Orleans and a meditation on the intertwined themes of love and death, themes infused this week with a new poignancy as the now-submerged city fights for survival.

Juan-Carlos Formell - Wednesday Sept. 7, 2005
-->live solo set @ KAOS community radio, 89.3fm, between 1-3pm (streaming live at www.kaosradio.org)
-->concert @ Traditions Fair Trade Cafe, 300 5th Ave SW, Olympia, 8pm; tickets $12 or $8 for students & low-income; info/tickets at 360-705-2819 or traditionsfairtrade.com

A romantic with a heart like a laser beam, Formell deftly mines his Cuban musical heritage for a solo set of nontrivial love songs inspired by New Orleans's 'cemeteries & desire'. Like Brazil's Caetano Veloso, Formell brings the rumba and bolero forms up to contemporary speed without tarnishing their essence."

-- R Gehr, The Village Voice