When you look at a radio show, on paper that is, it's format is one of chunks or segments. I prefer to call them the former. "Chunks" just seems so much more tangible, something you can sink your teeth or ears into (wait, that doesn't read well does it? But I'm going to stick with it). On this week's World Music Show (10/5), each chunk of music will be of a certian theme. From South African music, to desert guitar tracks to a mini-salute to the Marley family, this week's show will be slices of wonderment. With that, let the chunks fly! (oh, that's another line that doesn't read well, my apologies to those with light stomachs).
The first chunk o' music will highlight songs from South Africa. We'll start with a couple of interesting pairings from the long running vocal band Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Led by Joseph Shabalala since the mid 1960s, this group has grown to international fame, thanks in part to their guest appearance on Paul Simon's "Graceland" CD. Their stint on the album and the subsequent concert tour with Simon helped propel their status to a world-renown band. To throw a twist into these couple of songs, I'll play two that are remixes, or perhaps covers, of some of their earlier work, but done again with some "friends," as their CD implies. We'll hear "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes," done not with Simon, but with Melissa Etheridge and Joe McBride. And we'll hear the song "Mbube," done with Taj Mahal.
Rounding out that first set will be a couple of songs from a collection of Black South African music, including a song by Mzikayifani Buthelezi and one by Majozi--both of which have some really great guitar work on them (sort of reminding me of California surf guitar music). And we'll also hear more surf-like guitar music from Soweto from Uthawolfu Amentkentshane.
For the next chunk o' music, we'll head up the African continent to the outskirts of the Saharan Desert to hear some blues music--and more incredible guitar music--from a few stellar bands and musicians. Starting the set will be a young Tuareg guitarist and songwriter from Agadez, Niger, Bombino. Omara "Bombino" Moctar was raised during an era of armed struggles for independence and violent suppression by government forces. Yet with all that, Bombino still managed to learn and grow as a musician. We'll hear a track off his first CD, "Agadez." If you get the chance, go to the NPR music site and search for his tiny desk concert--it's fantastic. Also in this set of desert blues music will be tracks from the bands Tinariwen and Entran Finatawa.
Closing out the first hour will be a family chunk (again, I apologize for the visuals here) from the Marley family. We'll start with one of my favorite Bob Marley songs "Lively up Yourself," followed by a song from Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. Following that, we'll hear one from Ziggy solo--well, actually it'll be a duet with the late rapper Heavy D. The chunk will close with a song by Stephen Marley and the band Capelton.
So, If you're wondering if this incredible, stupendous chunk theme will pour over to hour two, the answer is yep! Why ruin a good thing? For this hour, though, the chunks will go back in time a bit, becuase I love musical time travel. The decade we'll be stuck in will be the 1980s. And, these chunks will stretch the boundaries of what normally is deemed "World Music." Here's why: many of the bands from this decade incorporated beats, sounds, musicians and styles from all over the world. They stretched our imagine when defining that term. So in these chunks be sure to listen to the rhythm, the beats, and the instruments and you'll see what I'm driving at.
Leading the pack in this hour will be a set from the Talking Heads, who right from the beginning infused their music with world beats, thanks mostly to David Byrne, who even as a young lad growing up in Maryland, had a penchant for scouring record stores for World Music. In fact, one of their early songs "I Zimbra" really captures this. And for trivia's sake, Byrne, by the way, has won an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a Grammy, and is of course, along with the Talking Heads, in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
For chunk number two, it'll be a British-inspired mixed bag featuring two bands and one stellar musician who all had one thing in common--at least in this set. They all used Reggae or Ska beats in much of their music. And, through careful research and listening, I think I know why. Prior to when these musicians started to make it big, much of the scene in London had a Reggae vibe going on. So, when you hear The Clash or The Police, and to Joe Strummer and Elvis Costello, listen for these beats. On the Costello track, though ("Seven Day Weekend"), his song isn't really tinged with Reggae or Ska sounds. This is becuase he's singing a duet with the legendary Reggae star Jimmy Cliff. I know, I'm taking liberties (bonus points if you recognize that as a title to an Elvis compilation.
Speaking of Ska music, we'll close this soon-to-be famous Show of Chunks (again, my apologies) with a mini-tribute to of my favorite Ska revivalist bands from that decade--The English Beat (or if you were in Australia, they were called The British Beat; and in Great Britian, they were known simply as The Beat). I say revivalist becuase Ska--a popular form of Jamaican music that had a strong heyday in the 60s, was seeing a major resurgance in the 80s, thanks in part to bands like The Beat, Madness and The Specials. We'll hear some of their early work, then a couple of songs from Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger's after Beat project known as General Public.
Regardless of what term you prefer, that of segment or chunk, either way, a fun time will be had by all. The World Music Show is heard every Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. on 88.9FM WCVE Public Radio or online via this website. You can follow the show on Twitter @wcveworldmusic.