29 September 2008

Win Tickets to Cuba in New York City...

One more thing today... Maraca and the New Collective blew through my town the other day, leaving a trail of sweaty salseros in their wake. Within a couple of days, they'll be on the other coast, tearing it up at S.O.B's in New York.

The best part? I've got a pair of tickets to give away for the S.O.B's show on Wednesday night.

[contest concluded...entry info removed]

Entries will be accepted until 5pm Pacific USA time on Tuesday. The winner will be drawn randomly from all entries, and notified shortly thereafter.

Here's a video to entice you, and more show details are below.

Wednesday October 1st
S.O.B's Presents:
Orlando "Maraca" Valle

New CD Release, "Lo Que Quiero Es Fiesta"
First 200 People Receive A FREE 5-Song EP!!

Doors: 7PM
Show: 8PM and 10PM
Admission: $22 ADV/$25 DOS

The Cuban flutist, composer and director of the group Maraca, Orlando Valle is definitely a spectacle to see live, as he directs his highly talented 12-member group. Maraca, both musician and director, was named a "visionary" by "Chicago Tribune en Espanol" 2003, and is considered one of the most popular names in Latin and Afro-Cuban Music, from salsa to Latin jazz. His music is a cocktail of fusion and energy that stems from the most jazziest improvisations to the most danceable elements of Caribbean and popular Cuban music.

MARACA AND THE NEW COLLECTIVE IS Orlando "Maraca" Valle - flute, percussion, vocals Adonis Puente - vocals, Alberto Alberto - vocals, Osmany Paredes - piano, Jorge "Sawa" Pérez - bass, Humberto "El Nengue" Hernández - congas, Coky García - drums/timbales, Felipe Lamoglia - saxophones, Tito Carrillo - trumpet, Sean Billings - trumpet.

With Maraca's Latin and Afro-Cuban sounds the band is sure to shine the entire night. Join Maraca for the release of his sixth album "…Lo Que Quiero Es Fiesta". Come see a master at work on Wednesday, October 1st at SOBs.

Vote for Hope

MC Yogi - Vote for Hope- on SoundRoots.orgOnce again, I am amazed at the musical outpouring this US presidential election has inspired. And sorry John, they're not singing about you. At least, not that I know of. This one comes to us from MC Yogi, a yoga instructor, rapper, and "former graffiti artist" who has a new album just out called Elephant Power (think Ganesh with a boom box... which is actually the image used on the cover!). The song mixes Obama speeches with Yogi's rapping and some mellow hip-hop beats. Have a listen.

[mp3] MC Yogi: Vote for Hope
available as a free download at White Swan Records
check out the video!

Elephant Power includes a similar mix about the life of Gandhi, entitled "Be the Change." Kind of a musical Gandhi 101, great for anyone who's unaware of his history and accomplishments.

Monday's mp3: Chi's Modernized Mbira

Chiwoniso: Rebel Woman

Chiwoniso is a woman poised for success. The Zimbabwean singer has just released her third album, but it's far and away her most mature, engaging, appealing work to date. After two sparsely distributed albums (Ancient Voices and Timeless) and contributions to a number of compilations including the delightful Women CARE, Chiwoniso has hooked up with dynamic label Cumbancha for her latest, and also has rounded up a crack team of musicians including guitarist Louis Mhlanga and Oliver Mtukudzi drummer Sam Mataure.

The songs on Rebel Woman feel clearly rooted in Zimbabwean traditional music, partaking heavily of mbira riffs in particular, though all 12 tracks are originals. With the insistent rhythms created by a tight rhythm section of bass, drum kit, and rhythm guitar, this is clearly very modern Zimbabwean music. The touches of Chiwoniso's musical influences can be clearly inferred: Tuku on "Nguva Ye Kufara," Hugh Masekela on "Listen to the Breeze," and elsewhere Stella Chiweshe, Thomas Mapfumo, and others. There might be a bit of Angelique Kidjo in there as well, particularly on the near-Afrobeat drive of "Gomo."

[mp3] Chiwoniso: Gomo
from the CD Rebel Woman

Chiwoniso sings mostly in Shona, though a fair amount of English is also heard on the album. In an exclusive Spin the Globe interview, the singer dismisses critics of this choice, asserting that both languages are part of her identity, particularly since she was born in Olympia, Washington, and spent a good portion of her childhood there. (Her father, the esteemed mbira and marimba teacher-musician Dumisani Maraire, lived in the USA for a number of years, helping to create the culture that now results in the annual Zimfest.)

Deeply spiritual, Chiwoniso champions women's rights and anti-police-violence causes. That her songs include positive messages is just one more argument for Chiwoniso to finally get widespread recognition for her compelling music.

more info:
Chiwoniso video interview about censorship
Chiwoniso performing with Kris Kristoffersen (!)

27 September 2008

Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief

Just a little more Bollywood, if you'll indulge me. Along with audio research for yesterday's radio show, I also sat down with the book Fantasies of a Bollywood Love Thief: Inside the World of Indian Moviemaking by Stephen Alter. It's not as much of a juicy insider expose as the title might suggest, but still an engaging read as the author uses the filming of the movie Omkara as a jumping off point for larger points about India's huge cinema industry.Confessions of a Bollywood Love Thief - on SoundRoots.org

Omkara is Vishal Bhardwaj's Bollywood adaptation of Shakespeare's Othello, The Moor of Venice. Those knowledgeable about US film making may find some intriguing differences detailed in the discussion of production, sets, and the business side of movies, India style. But more than once the point is made that despite the derivative name, Bollywood is not a cheap knockoff of Hollywood. India produces more than 900 films a year, most of more than two hours long, and most featuring a handful of song and dance numbers that themselves spawn spinoff industries of soundtracks and even game shows.

The domestic and regional market for such films is huge, though few of them seem to make it to any significant release here in the USA. Having read about the behind-the-scenes action, I'm curious to see Omkara, but probably won't get a chance to see it in an actual theater.

The book is certainly worth a read if you're interested in Bollywood. And the trailer gives you a taste of this hard-edged adaptation of the Bard.

26 September 2008

Chiwoniso Meets Bollywood?

Spin The Globe playlist for 26 September 2008
as heard on radio KAOS 89.3 FM, Olympia USABollywood on SoundRoots.org

An hour of Bollywood deliciousness, an interview with Zimbabwean musician Chiwoniso, and even a few new releases. What a show!

Congrats to listener Eric, who won the giveaway for the CD Yo Baba by Funkadesi, and to listener Bob, who won a copy of Chiwoniso's CD Rebel Woman

Artist - Song - Album
hour 1
Udit Narayan - Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani 2000) - Rough Guide to Bollywood
Sukhwindher Singh, Kavita Krishnamurthy - Main Albeli - Zubeidaa soundtrack (2001)
Nitin Sawhney feat. Reena Bhardwaj & Jayanta Bose - Koyal - Asian Lounge
Labh Jhanjua & Sunidhi Chauhan - Chhuriyaan - Money Hai Toh Honey Hai (2008)

Dick Lee feat Jasintha - Mustapha - The Mad Chinaman
Najma - Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Caravan, 1971) - Forbidden Kiss
Sonu Nigam & Javed Ali - Nagada Nagada - Jab We Met (2007)
Kronos Quartet feat. Asha Bhosle - Dum Maro Dum / Take Another Toke (Hare Rama, Hare Krishna, 1971) - You’ve Stolen My Heart
Kazi Aniruddha - Piya Tu Ab To Aaja (Caravan, 1971) - Bollywood Steel Guitar
Kunal Ganjawala, Shreya Ghoshal - Masha-Allah - Saawariya soundtrack (2007)
Funkadesi - Makhana - Yo Baba
Bollywood Brass Band - Ek Tu Hi Bharosa - Rahmania
unidentified - In the Garden - Bollywood Breaks Sampler

hour 2
Chiwoniso - Rebel Woman - on SoundRoots.org
Chiwoniso - Matsotsi -
Rebel Woman
Chiwoniso - African Woman - Women CARE
Chiwoniso interview
Chiwoniso - Vanorapa - Rebel Woman
Souad Massi - Ghir Enta - Acoutic Arabia
Watcha Clan - Call of Hagar - Diaspora Hi-Fi
Terne Chave - Amare Chaja / Our Girls - More, Love!

For more Bollywood music and info, especially out of print soundtracks, check out:

24 September 2008

Gnawa Ecstasy

Wijdan - Gnawa DVD on SoundRoots.org
This is a story... a story of two men who found each other like lost brothers, separated by time.

That's the beginning narration of this engaging DVD that traces the connection between Sibiri Samaké -- an animist hunter from near Bamako, Mali -- and Maalem Brahim El Belkani -- a Muslim master musician from Marrakesh, Morocco.

The film is simple, containing just the 52-minute feature with no special features. It's also deep, with intimate images and stories of the men's families and musical history. "Widjan" is Arabic for "ecstasy," perhaps the defining element of Gnawa music and a crucial element linking these two men and their passion for the sacred rhythms and rituals that define Gnawa culture.

While the DVD does include some of the history of the Gnawa, who were brought as slaves from West Africa to North Africa, bringing with them sacred healing practices that developed into the Gnawa healing ceremonies known as lila (or leela) the focus is on Gnawa music, tradition, and culture. A fascinating aspect is how these two men came to a similar place despite such differences . And not entirely answered is the question of whether and how the Gnawa traditions will survive in the modern world.

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Read more: Gnawa music at Wikipedia
See a clip from Widjan

23 September 2008

World Music Miscellany

It's fall cleaning time, and here are some tidbits that recently landed in SoundRoots' inbox:

Six Degrees Records has a new blog, where they highlight new releases (yes, their own releases) and have some free mp3 tracks: globalnoize.blogspot.com

WOMADelaide took place way back in March, but if you missed it you can still catch some of the audio goodness through podcasts posted at serendipsy.wordpress.com, including interviews and performances from the likes of Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra, Susana Baca, and Cesaria Evora.

Intrepid Norwegian Trond is again spearheading the World Song Festival, an internationally judged competition of songs from many, many nations. I've been a judge in the past, and he's now looking for new judges. If you think you've got what it takes to listen to and score something like 100 songs from around the world, email: trond.skara [at] gmail.com
Fela! - a new musical - on SoundRoots.org
I haven't seen it, but I sure would if I were on the other coast in the next couple of weeks. The new musical Fela! has been extended through Oct. 15. Directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, the show is described as a journey into "the extravagant, decadent and rebellious world of Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti. Using his pioneering music (a blend of jazz, funk and African rhythm and harmonies), Fela! explores Kuti's controversial life as artist, political activist and revolutionary musician."

I'd have a conflict if I were in New York this weekend, however, since I'd have to decide between Fela! and a show by guitarist/vocalist Lionel Loueke from Benin and bassist/vocalist Richard Bona from Cameroon. They're doing two sets Friday and Saturday nights at The Allen Room, Frederick P. Rose Hall, Home of Jazz at Lincoln Center, on Broadway at 60th St., NYC. Doesn't that sound tasty!

My favorite global newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, is celebrating 100 years in the business with special features on a new website section at www.csmonitor.com/100

The Guardian has an engaging interview with Reem Kelani in which she talks about the late poet Mahmoud Darwish and the precariousness of Palestinian existence, and lists ten key people and styles to know if you're interested in Arabic music.

I'm enjoying the increasing number of videos showing up on Vimeo, which are consistently higher quality than those on YouTube. The latest comes from Latin rock outfit Cordero. The describe their song Ruleta Rusa as “a dance song about the end of the world.” The band stands at the end of the world and recreate a modern version of the Greek myth of Moirae, three mythical creatures who measure out fate the way a spinner measures out a thread. I'll leave you with that as the concluding bit of world music miscellany today. Enjoy, and be sure to send SoundRoots other bits of global music news.

Cordero, "Ruleta Rusa" from Bloodshot Records

22 September 2008

Monday's mp3: Fantastic Fulani Fusion

A Fula's Call: Mark Lotz Meets Omar Ka - Liingu (Lop Lop Records)
A Fula's Call: Mark Lotz Meets Omar Ka - on SoundRoots.org
From the banks of the Niger River, Senegalese griot Omar Ka somehow found his way to the Netherlands, where he recorded this rollicking collection of 14 songs with German flautist Mark Alban Lotz, French guitarist Raphael Vanoli, and Iranian percussionist Afra Mussawisade. A hint of jazz infuses the music, as well as a touch of Indian tabla -- consider those the wings of a group whose musical roots are clearly in Africa. A stellar example of acoustic global fusion from artists at the top of their game.

[mp3] A Fula's Call: Mark Lotz Meets Omar Ka: Goureh mWPm
from Liingu

21 September 2008

World Music Top 10, September 2008

Yikes - I've got a big backlog of things I want to post, so I'll keep this brief. Here's the SoundRoots / Spin The Globe Top 10 World Music Albums chart for September 2008. The Brazil-meets-Klezmer album Legends of the Preacher hits #1 this week, followed closely by Chicago-based Bollywood-meets-funk band Funkadesi, who I gladly but belatedly discovered in recent months. For more on any album (sound samples, where to buy) click the title).Nation Beat - Legends of the Preacher - on SoundRoots.org

1. Nation Beat: Legends of the Preacher
2. Funkadesi:
Yo Baba
3. Mounira Mitchala:
Talou Lena
4. Afrissippi:
various artists: The Rough Guide to Romanian Gypsies
6. Neco Novellas:
New Dawn/ Ku Khata
7. Delhi 2 Dublin:
Delhi 2 Dublin
8. DeLeon:
9. Sidestepper:
Buena Vibra Sound System
10. Niyaz:
Nine Heavens

19 September 2008

He's got the Kenyan vote wrapped up

Our friends at Limitless Sky Records just emailed with this video from Kenyan benga group Kenge Kenge. The song is called "Obama for Change." Pretty amazing that the Democratic candidate is generating so much enthusiasm not just here in the States, but worldwide as well.

Kenge Kenge - Obama for Change - on SoundRoots.org
For more from the band, check out Introducing Kenge Kenge. I'd offer up a balancing foreign video for McCain...but as far as I've heard, no SoundRoots musicians are enthusiastic about the Republican.

Global Flamenco

Spain's flamenco is a style that has gone worldwide in its musical influence. Spin The Globe explored global flamenco this week from the roots to flamenco hip-hop and a unique flamenco-disco cover song. Plus new releases and more in the second hour of the show. Audio link is below the playlist.
Rough Guide to Flamenco - SoundRoots.org
Playlist for Spin The Globe - 19 September 2008
as heard on radio KAOS, 89.3 FM, Olympia USA

hour 1

Juan Carlos Romero - Copa de Cisco - Azulejo
Diego Carrasco - Jose Monge Cruz - The Rough Guide to Flamenco
Martires Del Compas - Pinceladas De Buleria - No Paleles X No Papers
IndiaLucia - Raag & Ole - IndiaLucia
Gritos de Guerra - Arrinconamela - Vengo soundtrack
Ojos de Brujo - Sultanas de Merkaillo - Techari
Benjamin Escoriza - Talisman - Alevanta!
Javier Ruibal - Vino y Besos - Sahara
Paco de Lucia - Entre dos Aguas - Flamenco para niños
Pitingo - Familia Habichuela - Flamenco para niños
Las Seventies - I Will Survive - Seguimos Vivas
Hossam Ramzy & Rafa El Tachuela - Rumbapa / Father of Rumba - Flamenco Arabe
Ojos de Brujo - Tesoro - Rumba Flamenco

hour 2
Neco Novellas - Yeke Yo - New Dawn / Ku Khata
Vincent Nsengiyumva - Urukundo Ni Byose / Love is Everything - Humura Africa / Don’t Worry Africa
Novalima - Bandolero - Rough Guide to Latin Lounge
Terne Chave - Aj Jaj Jaj - More, love!
Pistolera - Nuevos Ojos - En Este Camino
Oana Catalina Chitu - Good Rosy Wine - Bucharest Tango
Watcha Clan - Balkan Qoulou - Diaspora Hi-Fi
Seprewa Kasa - Nkasoo - Seprewa Kasa
Albino! - Feel alright - Rhino
Chiwoniso - Gomo - Rebel Woman
Mamadou Diabate - Fali - Heritage
Kal - Midnight Walk - KAL

My apologies to the caller who asked for Nina Pastori -- I was unable to find any of her music in my quick search of the music library. I'll make up for that soon.

17 September 2008

15th Century Ladino indie rock?


DeLeon - DeLeon
(JDub Records)

DeLeon - on SoundRoots.org
Everything old is new again, they say. But "15th Century Spanish indie rock"? That billing for Brooklyn-based band DeLeon is as accurate as it is odd. Singing in English and Ladino -- the traditional tongue of Sephardic Jews -- Daniel Saks and bandmates bring rock and pop influences to the mix and create of traditional folk tunes something familiar yet just exotic enough to make you perk up your ears like a puzzled pup. And before you know it, you're hearing niggun at the club and it all sounds normal. Why not?

From the band:
This particular brand of music is greatly informed by the Sephardic tradition, melding the rhythm of history with the urban chaos of the modern world. Sephardic, a term referring to a Jewish person that can trace their lineage back to the Iberian Peninsula, which includes modern day Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar, takes on an entirely new context in frontman Dan Saks' hands. These beautifully crafted tunes are Saks' way of reviving the past; indeed, this record has helped him honor the legacy of his great-grandfather Giorgio DeLeon. Still, DeLeon's first album is a complex work, dually memorializing and celebrating these ancient memories and melodies.
[mp3] DeLeon: Serena
from the album DeLeon

Band website: ilovedeleon.com

15 September 2008

Monday's mp3: More, Love!

Terne Chave - More, Love!

Another shipment from my friends at Indies Scope again has me marveling at the diversity in the Czech music scene. A clear standout is the oddly titled disc from Terne Chavre.
Terne Chave - More Love! - on SoundRoots.org
Distinctly Roma vocals ground the clever folk-rock arrangements of both originals and traditional songs, telling tales of love, lust, cats, beautiful girls, more love... There seems to be a theme here! That theme would explain the CD's title, ... if "More, Love!" weren't actually Czech for "Money, Mate!"

The boisterous title track has something to do with moneylending, but the English lyric translations can be nearly as baffling as the confusing order in which the lyrics are printed. Still, that's easily forgotten in the rich love of life (and music) so obvious in "Amara Chaja / Our Girls," "Aj Jaj Jaj," and pretty much all the rest of the album.

[mp3] Terne Chavre: Sukar Jakha (Beautiful Eyes)
more info

and a little visual treat from the band...

Terne Chave -

Also freshly released is the new album by Gipsy.cz, which you know you'll be hearing more about soon. Stay tuned.

12 September 2008

Happy Birthday, Dear Spin The Globe!

This week's Spin The Globe was something of a celebration, marking the show's 9th year on the air. Some new releases and older favorites, lus an interview with members of the African-blues group Afrissippi. And Congrats to listener Coral, who won this week's CD giveaway for Afrissippi's Alliance.Afrissippi - Alliance - SoundRoots.org

Spin The Globe playlist for 12 September 2008
as heard on radio KAOS, 89.3 FM (streaming live online at www.kaosradio.org)

Artist - Song - Album

hour 1
Dhol Foundation - Big Drum Small World - Big Drum : Small World
Bole 2 Harlem - Bole 2 Harlem - Bole 2 Harlem Volume 1
DeLeon - Raheliha Baila - DeLeon
Firewater - Borneo - The Golden Hour
Kalman Balogh - Sirba, Tropca & Hora from Dobrogea - Master of the Gypsy Cimbalom
Afrissippi - Debbo Ndoogu - Alliance
interview with Justin Showah of Afrissippi
Afrissippi - Singha - Alliance
Susheela Raman - Amba - Love Trap

hour 2
Kobo Town - Beautiful Soul - Independence
Fiamma Fumana - The Hunter - Home
KAL - Papusha - KAL
Cankisou - Zuha - Le La
Ali Hassan Kuban - Mabrouk Wo Arisna - Nubian Magic
Daude - Ala-La-O - Neguinha te amo
Funkadesi - Stir It Up - Yo Baba
Lo’Jo - In the Arena of the Bold - Au Cabaret Sauvage
Ojos de Brujo - Silencio - Techari
Gamelan X - Gammafro - Satu
Watcha Clan - Balkan Qoulou - Balkanbeats Vol. 3
Boban Markovic Orkestar - Meksikanka / Mexican Girl - The Promise
Dengue Fever - Integration - Venus on Earth
Balkan Beat Box - Baharim (outro) - Nu Med

11 September 2008

Music for 9-11

It's Sept. 11 again, and that means remembering the victims of terrorism. Victims of a plot to undermine a democratic nation. A plot that was planned and funded by the US government and carried out to perfection.

No, this isn't a conspiracy theory rant about 2001*. It's 1973, in the South American nation of Chile. Salvador Allende had been elected president in 1970 (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvador_Allende ). And the US wasn't happy. Through the CIA and other agents, the US supported the Chilean military in moving against the president.

...by mid-afternoon on 11 September, 1973, Chile had lost its President, Democracy had been dealt a blow that it would take 25 years to recover from and the world was about to witness one of the worst cases of political cleansing.

Nobody knows how many people died during the coup, but it goes without saying that many more died in the ensuing weeks and the military dictatorship that followed. Chilean liberals of all walks of life were rounded up and were either executed or 'disappeared'. One such example is Victor Jara, the celebrated folk singer, who was executed in the very stadium where he had played to great critical acclaim.
(source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A716591 )

I don't have any Victor Jara music at hand, but how about a little music from a Chilean band that lasted slightly longer than Allende's government. Los Tetas formed in 1995 and dissolved in 2004, in the meantime pumping out some tasty funk-rap grooves.

[mp3] Los Tetas: Tómala
from the album Tómala

*With all due respect to the events and victims of 2001, I think it's crucial to keep in mind that US history also includes acts that could be considered acts of terrorism against other sovereign nations. After US-backed General Augusto Pinochet took power in Chile in 1973, as many as 3,200 people were killed and 80,000 imprisoned by his government.

09 September 2008

Music of Zimbabwe w/ live mbira

It was the music of Zimbabwe on last Friday's Spin The Globe, plus an interview with Myrna Capp (author of Keeping the Embers Alive: Musicians of Zimbabwe) with live mbira tunes from Sheree Seretse.

Also, congrats to listener Tina, who won this week's CD giveaway for Oliver Mtukudzi's NhavaSheree Seretse playing mbira live on Spin The Globe, KAOS-fm

Playlist for Spin The Globe as heard on radio KAOS-fm

5 September 2008

Artist - Song - Album

hour 1
Afrida Marimba Band -- Makanani -- Tales of the Marimba
Thomas Mapfumo -- Mukadzi Wangu -- Rise Up
Tendai Muparutsa -- Nhemamusasa Collaboration -- Zimbabwe Acoustics
Oliver Mtukudzi -- Neria -- Ndega Zvangu
Interview with Myrna Capp & Sheree Seretse
Oliver Mtukudzi -- Todii -- Musicians of Zimbabwe: Keeping the Embers Alive
Ephat Mujuru, Myrna Capp, Sylvester Mujuru -- Improvisation -- Musicians of Zimbabwe: Keeping the Embers Alive

hour 2
Stella Chiweshe -- Chachimurenga -- Talking Mbira
Shukar Collective -- Taraf -- Rough Guide to Romanian Gypsies
Les Orientales -- Alger, Alger -- Acoustic Arabia
A Fula’s Call -- Malam Mix -- Liingu
Mo’Horizons -- Tu Fiesta Personal -- Rough Guide to Latin Lounge
Ayarkhaan -- White Crane -- Echoe of the Past
Seprewa Kasa -- Towoboase -- Seprewa Kasa
Lightning Head -- Afro Spot -- 13 Faces of Lightning Head
Lila Downs -- Nueve Viento -- Tree of Life
Mounira Mitchala -- Talou Lena -- Talou Lena
Issa Bagayogo -- Dibi -- Mali Koura

08 September 2008

Monday's mp3: Funkadesi

If world music is other people's local music, and other people's local music is a global mashup of ethnic sounds from around the planet, where does that leave us? Globalization is hard at work on the new album from Chicago group Funkadesi, a band that has been winning awards and impelling butts to shake for 11 years, but may just now be finding a wider audience for their funky multicultural sound. Congo player Carlos Antonio Cornier puts it this way:

When people see dreadlocks and turbans, men and women, African-Americans, Jamaicans, Indians, Latinos, all having a great time together and laughing while we're playing, that's what it's about ... we're together, and we're having fun!

The band also had the good fortune to impress a certain local politician who is running for president. "Funkadesi really knows how to get a crowd going," says Barak Obama. "I can't say enough how energizing this band is. There's a lot of funk in that desi."

Funkadesi imparts serious messages alongside the boisterous fun, none more topical this week than "No Leans," an account of people displaced (intentionally?) by the flooding of New Orleans ... in 1927! Ah, the circle of history...Funkadesi - Yo Baba - on SoundRoots.org

For pure musical fun, you can't beat the Tamil-English Bollywood-reggae fusion of "Dolare" or the opening bhangra-flavored "Crash Da Party." Here's hoping Funkadesi get their show to clubs and festivals far and wide to share their message of multikulti conscious fun.

[mp3] Funkadesi: Dolare
from the album Yo Baba

Funkadesi website
Funkadesi myspace

03 September 2008

All Music, All Blogs

Just a quick shout out to All Music, All Blogs, where Amo keeps an amazing list of (have you guessed already?) music related blogs. Amo writes:

SoundRoots is a pretty cool blog which does world music and global culture. The latter intends to add a bit of political and historical background information to the music discussed. There are only a few full albums available, but there are lots of samples available. I (out of my own interest) especially appreciate the blog's post on Chinese POP music. Well worth a few minutes of your time.

Thanks, Amo! I don't currently have a lot of Chinese pop, but I'll see what I can do. Hope you'll find the other content interesting as well.

02 September 2008

The Multikulti Future...

More and more of the music we're hearing today is made up of multicultural groups, or even individual artists with a multicultural background.

Just in the last few days we've received an album of Czech music with didjeridoo and djembe; an album from a Chicago-based group that fuses funk and Bollywood, English and Tamil; albums from Israeli and Czech hip-hop artists; and a Latin Lounge compilation that includes artists from Germany, England, and Austria alongside others from actual Latin lands.
Multilingual Living magazine on SoundRoots.org
A number of such artists who are open to multicultural musical explorations have family roots that spread to many parts of the globe. And I just ran across an interesting resource for families raising kids in such a situation. The Bilingual/Bicultural Family Network "is made up of families around the world who are raising their children bilingually and/or biculturally. The group provides support and resouces in the form of a website and e-newsletter packed with content as well as Seattle-based presentations, seminars and email contact."

Check it out at www.biculturalfamily.org

One of the links from the site leads to a fun and useful page of bilingual vocabulary quizzes in flashcard style. Just how good is your Tagalog/German/Lingala, really?

01 September 2008

Monday's mp3: Labor Day USA

Today is Labor Day here in the USA, the equivalent of May Day in much of the rest of the world and a day when one is supposed to take the day of and celebrate the accomplishments of workers and (if you're not a corporate fat cat) the achievements of labor unions.

In truth, it's a day of when many in the US just go shopping. Or take one last vacation before the start of school. Or sit around and watch sports on TV. And here I am, hard at work bringing you global music; I hope you appreciate it!

Suzzana Owiyo has been compared to Angelique Kidjo and called "the Tracy Chapman of Kenya." I don't know about all that. But this Kenyan singer-songwriter-guitarist has a sound that gracefully blends traditional and modern instruments, creating a unique sound. One of the best features on this CD - and one of the most unusual to Western ears - is the use of orutu, a one-stringed fiddle that sometimes sounds like a Brazilian cuica, sometimes like a human voice.

More liner-note details on the instrumentation would have been nice and several tracks wander dangerously close to cheesy pop. But the compelling music does convey a sense that Owiyo is singing from her roots. While the Luo-language lyrics aren't translated, the summaries tell of universal themes: don't hurry, value wisdom, love your family, child labor is bad. And some not-so-universal themes, like "Kisumu 100" urging investment in the city on the shores of Lake Victoria, or "Suna Ka Ngeya" describing insect infestations. A promising, if slightly uneven, debut from an African artist to watch.

[mp3] Suzanna Owiyo: Sandore
from the album Mama Africa

I'm told this song has a video with some hard-hitting images regarding child labor, specifically "the plight of house girls at the hands of their employers," but I've been unable to locate the video online.

Since the release of this album in 2004, Owiyo has released a second album called Yamo Kudho and, in partnership with Mbilia Bel, an EP called Koko Ka, neither of which I've heard (anyone care to help with that problem and send music?)

Owiyo video of the song Koko Ko (feat. Mbilia Bel)
Owiyo's website: www.suzannaowiyo.net