13 April 2006

The Most Popular Band in the World, and other global culture news

The BBC Audience Award for 2006 was recently announced, with the honor going to the Armenian Navy Band. Not actually part of the Armenian military, ANB is a creation of Arto Tunçboyaciyan, who describes their sound as "avant garde music from Armenia." The other finalists for the award were Enzo Avitabile e Bottari (Italy), Ilham Al Madfai (Iraq), and Seu Jorge (Brazil). Those who have seen ANB live rave about their shows. I have to say that from the recorded music alone, I prefer the music of Enzo Avitabile and Seu Jorge -- and others who didn't make the final cut. But I defer to the wisdom of the crowd, and you can read more about ANB on the BBC website. Or on the Amenian Navy Band website. The label "most popular band in the world" comes from a somewhat over-excited article on the Armenian portal Panorama.

Senegalese rapper Didier Awadi (part of Positive Black Soul) got a nice writeup at worldpress.org for his African Presidents' Project. He's currently on a 13-nation African tour "expounding on the idea of making songs from the illustrious speeches of African leaders, enabling an interactive dialogue with rap artists based on a question: Where are all these dreams today?" Awadi's website is http://www.awadimusic.com

Bad Behavior in Bollywood. Megastar and Bollywood bad boy Salman Khan has been tossed in jail for poaching endangered Chinkara deer. His one-year sentence and 5,000 rupee fine (about $111) are under appeal. Khan also faces trial for a separate hit and run incident. His fans are aghast, as are the people bankrolling his current film projects. Read all about it at the BBC.

A glum article in The Voice of America reports the shocking news that American radio stations are more inclined to play commercial pop and rock than "distinctive world music." Could salvation come from the likes of satellite radio? VOA credits satellite radio providers with including a world music channel. SoundRoots would like to point out the network of community stations such as our own KAOS that have for years provided world music via broadcast and webstream. Apparently if you don't own something in geo-synchronous orbit, you don't get noticed by VOA.

Seattle's Bumbershoot has announced a partial lineup for the Sept. music festival. As yet, not much world music of note, but for Yerba Buena and Dengue Fever. For unfolding details, keep an eye on http://www.bumbershoot.org

SoundRoots Shames Saudi. Okay, so maybe our earlier posting on the scarcity of music from Saudi Arabia wasn't really the catalyst, but we were pleased to read an AP article about some slight loosening of the cultural reins in Saudi, including allowing female authors to meet readers, music being played on government TV stations, and other modest measures.

Finally, some music to go with all this news. Shabâvâ is a Persian-Turkish music ensemble based in Portland, Oregon, featuring Nat Hulskamp (Oud, Flamenco Guitar), Bobak Salehi (Kamancheh, Setar, Violin), Deepayan Acharjya (Tabla), Chaz Hastings (Tabla). Two tabla players? I've gotta see these guys live sometime. In the meantime, a little morning listening for you.

[mp3] Shabâvâ: "Dawn"
Shabava website

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