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Fresh is Best

Ahhh. Do you smell that? It’s the smell of freshness…of newness. That’s right, there’s more new music to look forward to on this week’s World Music Show (2/11). Some of this music is brand-spanking new—as in the seal has just been broken on the CD plastic, while other tidbits of newness hasn’t even begun to reach the shelf expiration date.

Plus, mixed inside this world will be a couple of chunks of interest (which in itself may seem odd) of some local RVA music and some World Rap music. With that bit of primer out of the way, it’s time to rip off the seal of this week’s show.

In hour one tonight, the newness will start the show with a couple of tracks off the soon-to-be released CD by Orchestra Baobab, which began way back in 1970 in a hotel in Senegal. Orchestra Baobab is a multi-ethnic, multi-national band began when there was a craving for Cuban music going on in the world of World Music. So hence, they were a dance band. Now, even though they started in the 1970s, doesn’t mean that they’ve been non-stop ever since. Like many bands, they broke up after a number of years. However, after interest grew in their sound in the early part of the 2000s, they reformed. And, like many groups of this ilk, such as Buena Vista Social Club or Ladysmith Black Mamabazo, and the like, members inside the group often changed. One time member of Baobab was Youssou N’dour. To this extent, their new CD relates to this change. Called “Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng,” Orchestra Baobab pay tribute to one of the band’s original vocalists who died in November. Off of that, we’ll hear the first two tracks, which are “Foulo,” and “Fayinkounko.”

This first set of music is all about the Afro-Cuban beat. Besides Orchestra Baobab, we’ll also hear cuts from the band Afrocubism and from Buena Vista Social Club. Afrocubism have a connection with Buena Vista Social Club, in that Afrocubism was originally supposed to be a part of BVSC. However, many of the members had visa problems and couldn’t travel to Cuba to be a part of the recording, hence their self-titled release.

Now this next chunk of music is not quite fresh, but nonetheless, if you’ve never heard a track from these guys, then I can stretch the metaphor to say that it’ll be fresh to you. But first a mystery. Just what is Congotronics? Well, first off, it’s the name of a CD by the band Konono No.1. Konono No. 1 is a Grammy-winning musical group from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. And they combine three electric likembé (a traditional instrument similar to the mbira, also known as a thumb piano—but again, plugged in—with voices, dancers, and percussion instruments that are made out of items salvaged from a junkyard. The group's amplification equipment is equally rudimentary, including a microphone carved out of wood fitted with a magnet from an automobile alternator and a gigantic horn-shaped amplifier. So in one way you can say they sound like a garage band. The group achieved international renown beginning in 2005, with its DIY aesthetic appealing to many fans of rock and electronic music. And, recently they did a CD with the DJ/Producer Bastida. So Congotronics is their way of combining music from the Congo with electronics. We’ll hear their song “Kule Kule.”

Mixed into this land of Congotronics will be some desert blues music from guitarist, Bombino, who is from Agadez, Niger. He’s been compared to the greats, like Hendrix, Page, and John Lee Hooker. He comes from the land where desert blues music reigns, with bands like Tinariwen and musicians like Ali Farka Toure led the way. You can find this song “You, My Beloved,” on his CD called Agadez. Also in here too, and also from Kinshasa like Konono No.1 were, we’ll hear the band Mbongwana Star with the song Malukayi, which ironically, featured Konono No. 1. See how it all ties together?

About that chunk of local interest I mentioned earlier. In another set tonight, we’ll run the gamut in terms of style with four local bands First up, this is something I haven’t played in awhile. The singer Minyeshu is from Ethiopia. On her CD called Dire Dawa, she sings about a city raised on both spirit and turmoil that is planted along the train tracks which starts in the capital and head to a higher plateau. It’s her birthplace. The RVA connection is from Donnie Duval, a former UR Grad.

I’ll follow that with a track from local Reggae great, Mighty Joshua, who as been playing all over town lately—and I hear he’s also working on a new CD, too. Following him will be the song “Dina’s Mambo,” by the funky/salsa band Bio Ritmo, which has two members, by the way, who are in a trio dedicated to the Puerto Rican boleros of Sylvia Rexach, called Miramar.

Rounding out the set of local goodness will be a new song off the new CD (see, still shelf-fresh!) by the local big band Afro-Zen Allstars. From the new CD called Greatest Hits by the local, large ensemble band Afro-Zen Allstars, we’ll hear “Muramba Doro.” You can see them and get their new CD when they play at Garden Groove Brewery on Cary, a place in which they play every second Friday. They specialize in danceable grooves inspired by Ethiopian beats, among so many others—again, see how I connected the dots to the beginning?

We’ll close out this hour by hearing from an old friend of the show, well, meaning that we’ve become great friends. We’ll hear from Monica Da Silva, who is part of the duo Complicated Animals. However, this song “Pela Madrugada,” is off her CD called Brasilissima, and it’s CD in which she’s billed solo, though her partner in crime, Chad Alger, is featured. They are moving, by the way, from Florida to Los Angeles this month. I’m trying to get them to swing up North, before they turn left to go West.

For the second hour tonight, they’ll also be some freshness, some newness and a chunk of a theme of interest, dedicated to interesting rap music from around the globe. But first, let’s start of with the latest from one of my favorite bands out of Mexico. Cafe Tacvba is about to unleash a new CD (they’ve been together since 1989). And last month they “dropped” their newest song called “Futuro.” I’m not sure when their new CD is coming out, but I was able to get my hands on two of their newest songs. Plus, a few weeks ago, I posted the video to this on my blog, so go check it out. I’ll follow that with another Cafe Tacvba song called “Tropico de Cancer,” off their CD called RE. 

In fact, this whole set of music will be of a cafe theme, too. Off a CD put out on the Nacional record label called Cafe Con Musica, we’ll hear the songs “Shine,” by DJ Bitman, who once did a project he titled “Bitman & Roban.” He also, by the way, is an ex-boogie-board champ and lifelong Chilean surfer. Before him, however, we’ll hear the song “Chau,” by the band No Te Va Gustar, who are from Uruguay and whose names basically translates to “You are not going to like it.” Well, I think you’ll like it.

Sticking around in this Latin playground a bit, but heading to Brazil, we’ll get our fill of some Red Hot goodness, as in we’re going to dive into a double disc CD called Red Hot + Rio 2. This is put out by the same folks who have put out CDs such as Red Hot + Blue, Red Hot + Riot, etc. all in an effort to raise money and awareness for the AIDS epidemic in Latin countries. On their CDs, they take popular songs and rework them with the help of more contemporary artists and beats. Off disc one, we’ll hear from Beck’s, doing his song “Tropicalia,” in which he partners with Seu Jorge, followed by the song “Dreamworld,” done by Caetano Veloso and David Byrne.

Then off disc two, we’ll hear the song “Ogodo, Ano 2000” which features Tom Ze and the band Javelin. And we also hear a cover of the famous Brazilian song “Bat Macumba,” done by the bands of Montreal and Os Mutantes, who if I’m not mistaken, will be playing at Capital Ale House downtown on February 28th…how cool is that? And speaking of Capital Ale downtown, local band NO BS Band will be playing there Sunday night (2/12) and later this month on February 22, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band will be playing too…sounds like I need to get there for one of these shows.

I’m wondering if when I mentioned that I’d be playing some world rap music that a few of you perhaps rolled your eyes or got ready to turn the dial. Well, I’m here to tell you not to worry. In this chunk of music, all these selections are very unique and broad, with very good beats. First up and all the way from Iceland, we’ll hear from MC Bjor. Now, I got this CD from our Digital Guru Angela, who perhaps you’ve seen doing various Facebook live events for the station. Well, last year, she had quite the adventure when she went hiking in Iceland. And, during one of her rest stops at a hostel in the city of Reykjavik she saw MC Bjor, playing with a band. And knowing that I love getting music from all over (plus, I also begged her to get some me some music—which reminds me, I think I still owe her some money for this), she picked up his solo CD for me. And, it’s actually good. So off of that, we’ll hear MC Bjor with the songs “Dagdraumar,” and Draumasteinninn.”

Filling the rest of the rap space will be a tune from the Senegalese band Daara J, a song from the German “King of Raop,” CRO and some Brazilian rap by Elza Soares.

Closing out the show will be some Madness as well as some Chinese Rock n’ Roll by the band Carsick Cars. The World Music Show airs every Saturday from 8:00-10:00 p.m. on Richmond Public Radio, 88.9 WCVE. You can also stream the show online via this website and you can follow the show on Twitter @wcveworldmusic and on Facebook by looking for The World Music Show on WCVE.