14 February 2006

Bite-Size Global Culture

Tempted as we are to pile on with more Dick Cheney hunting jokes, that's being pretty well taken care of by others worldwide. So onward to other global culture tidbits.

After years of waiting, finally got to see Vusi Mahlasela perform live last night at the Triple Door in Seattle. Just one man, sitting on stage with his guitar and a small table bearing water, hand towels, and a couple flags he talked about during the show. On stage for nearly two hours, he ran through (by our count) 17 songs, including "When You Come Back," "Troubador," "Fountain," and "Red Song" from previous albums, and several tunes from his upcoming album, which he says to expect in fall 2006. Vusi embodies something essential about South Africa - suffering, memory, forgiveness, joy, pain, love, hope, humor. And his musical and emotional range lets him shift from silly jokes to painful history without abruptness. If you don't care about any of that, go see him just for his George-Bensonesque guitar-voice synchronization. His tour continues through March 8 - see Vusi's tour schedule.

With no more the palpitation that beauty leaves in our heart, God no longer beats in our arteries, nor wakes up from Her slumber. Is it any surprise that Muslims are now the new representatives of nihilism? In the midst of all this: I am pleased to say that the music of Niyaz, fronted by Azam Ali, brings back to one's heart the sweet serenades of Muslim past and the life-affirmation we have been arguing for, but not knowing how to describe.

That's just a taste of a florid essay on culture and the music of Persian ensemble Niyaz written by Ali Eteraz - read the complete essay at altmuslim.com.

Seattle's Dwight Gee has been smitten with Mongolia, and as president of the Arts Council of Mongolia-U.S. has been working to set up an arts council for that culture-rich Asian nation. The Seattle Times has the story.

I'm sure this has nothing to do with last weekend's visit of Scottish troubador Jim Malcolm, but I recently re-discovered the stunning work of Scottish poet William Topaz McGonagall, who wrote such sublime stanzas as this, from his ode The Moon:
Beautiful Moon, with thy silvery light,
Thou cheerest the Esquimau in the night;
For thou lettest him see to harpoon the fish,
And with them he makes a dainty dish.
Right, then.

Sing It Right claims to have correct lyrics to songs from artists including Ojos de Brujo, Ozomatli, Susana Baca, and Susheela Raman. Go go karaoke!

Finally, what better expression of love for Valentine's Day than some ecstatic Sufi singing.

[mp3] Sabri Brothers "Haji Ali Qawwali"


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