The adjective “gigantic” is a fun one to use. It can describe so many things. But is it apropos to be the umbrella which protects the contents of a World Music Show? Sure! Why not! Because on this week’s World Music Show (3/4), they’ll be some gigantic beats to protect, or rather more aptly project.
And these ginormous beats are far and wide-ranging (which really throws out that umbrella metaphor, right?). From some classic Afro-Brazilian tracks (with a little bit of historical perspective thrown in), to some classic Ska and Reggae tunes, to even a battle of the “Los” bands (more on that later), it’ll be as giant a show is this sentence aims to be (did someone say run-on?).
Like all good stories, we need to start at the beginning. I mean, a beanstalk didn’t just appear for Jack, he had to do a little footwork first. So, let’s begin with the mixing bowl that will be hour one. And, just to make it interesting—at least for me—I’m not going to list the shows contents in chronological order, as I usually do. Perhaps this will method will spark your interest in turning on your Hi-Fi, or clock radio or your approved streaming device.
Why on earth would I have a battle of the “Los” bands? Life, as well as musical plays lists need to get mixed up with a bit of frivolous fun now and again. And in my nonsensical yet mythical battle, I put two bands into the beat-boxing ring (though, there is no “beatboxing” in this battle). In one corner, we’ll have the mega “super” band Los Super Seven. This band is made up of musicians who cut their teeth in other well known Latin bands until they joined together for this super band—but don’t think of this as some cheesy band akin to those from the 80s rock scene who did the same thing (yes, I’m talking to you Power Station). No, this band took all their talents and used them to their advantage and made some great music. Who are some of the members? Ah, there’s the rub—stay tuned.
In the other corner, it’ll be the band Los Lobos. This long running band out of East LA know how to craft all sorts of music, from classic soulful ballads to bluesy rock numbers. Now, here’s the rub. Some of the members of Los Lobos, are also in Los Super Seven. So you see, my mythical battle is moot, since there can be no winner.
In another unnamed section of this hour, we’ll go driving with the band Complicated Animals. This duo is doing a major move, literally. They’ve packed up the car, loaded up their pets and musical equipment and left Jacksonville, FLA and are on the road to Los Angeles. You may remember them from the World Music BirthdayBash last year, in which they opened the show that night. Monica Da Silva and Chad Alger play a mix of soulful, breezy, fun Brazilian pop music. We wish them much success out there in LA. Having grown up out there, I tried to offer some tips on some places for them to see and experience. But alas, it’s been so long since I’ve lived there that all the places I knew are long gone.
How were you in High School World History? Were you a dutiful student who took good notes? Not me. That gift came much later. However, I don’t think this history was ever talked about—which was the results of the Slave Trade on Latin America. Not to get too deep into all the details, but because of the Slave Trade, many countries in Latin America became a mixing pot of cultures, which over time, grew into some wonderful enclaves for great food, literature and music.
It’s in this realm in the country of Brazil, that we’ll visit some of the results of this mixing. On a CD called Afros e Afoxes da Bahia, the musicians celebrate this mixture. According to artist Caetano Veloso, Bahia is one of the most Black parts of Brazil. Off this CD, we’ll hear the song “Male Debale” or “Happy Blacks,” by the band Lazzo. This group, founded in 1979, boasts 1500 members—in that, its Rhythm section houses about 70 players. I’ll follow that with the song “Oju-Oba,” or “Eyes of Xango” by Gilberto Gil.
In other out-of-sequence notes for you, some of the other gigantic music we’ll hear in this hour include some groovy tracks Zuco 103. This Dutch musical ensemble, which is usually a trio, like to mix Brazilian styles with electronic beats. And, turn up the percussion when I play a style called Timbalada, which was created by Carlinhos Brown (who took his name from James Brown). Like some of the music on that Afros e Afoxes CD, Timbalada originated in Bahia. Staying in Brazil, we’ll give a quick nod the legend that is Tom Ze, who’s voice and style is as unique as Tom Waits.
And somewhere in here too will be some beautiful string sounds from Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabate and Issa Bagayogo, though not all together. However, Toure and Diabate do play together. Off their In the Heart of the Moon CD, they rented a mobil studio and set up on the banks of the Niger River in Bamako and basically just jammed.
In keeping with the few themes I’ve tossed out here like used lollipop sticks from a sugar fiend, I’ll continue the trend of mystery and bigness while I’m divulging the contents of the second hour.
And I’ll start with this musical question. Did the Beatles play Reggae music? Not by a long shot. But their music did influence a Reggae CD called Ob La Di, which the legendary Blues master and co-host of WCVE’s Time for The Blues, John Porter left on our mutually shared desk at the station. It’s a fun mix of Beatles tunes done in this genre. Off of it, we’ll hear a cover of “Norwegian Wood” by Marshall Williams. And we’ll also hear a version of “Blackbird” which features Rosalyn Sweat and the Paragons.
Since I’m on the subject or in the same pool as Reggae, I will say that you’ll also hear some classic Ska music from the likes of Desmond Dekker and the Aces and John Holt. Plus in that Reggae vein and sort of classic, we’ll hear a couple of throwbacks from UB40.
Speaking of covers, we’ll also hear some from the band Nouvelle Vague, who covers Weezer and The Ramones, and the Latin Band Mexrissey who cover the uber-aloof Morrissey (which is so flipping cool).
Somewhere in this hour, either at the starting or the ending, we’ll hear some electronic Tango music from Gotan Project, some British rave/World Music from Morcheeba and some New Groove Music from a Dutch Dub n’ Soul singer named Emo, and some Germany electronic pop from a one-man band named Radio Citizen. Thrown in for kicks and off the same “New Groove” CD (Putumayo label), we’ll hear the lovely voice of Alice Russell.
Hopefully this mess of words wasn’t a gigantic waste of time for you and perhaps it sparked your interest in tuning into the World Music Show, which airs Saturday nights from 8:00-10:00 p.m. on Richmond Public Radio, 88.9 WCVE. If you can’t get to your clock radio in time or if you don’t feel like sitting in your car for two hours, you can stream the show via this website. And, if you like following people and shows, please follow me on Twitter @wcveworldmusic and on Facebook at The World Music Show on WCVE.