The Holidays—World Music Style | Community Idea Stations

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The Holidays—World Music Style

One of the many reasons I love the holidays—besides the obvious reasons of family, chilly weather and presents, is because of the music. And, sure I love the classic holiday music, but since I have the honor of running the World Music Show on (12/24), I get to play holiday music not usually heard on many a station or record (or CD) player. It’s with that caveat that I also love pushing the boundaries of what you’ll hear on my annual Holiday World Music Show. This means that although you may hear something that you might recognize, chances are that there’s some twist to it due to World Music.

From Ukrainian Bell Carols to some Dub-inspired grooves, I’m sure you’ll be ready to celebrate the season along with me. Plus, as an added bonus, I’ll throw in a non-traditional Christmas song by The Pogues..so, you know, that’ll be fun. But kicking off the show will be a very Space-Age Holiday song by the Mexican composer Esquivel. Known for his inventive style that’s akin to say, Spike Jones, Esquivel had a unique way of having fun with his music. We’ll hear his take on the classic “Jingle Bells,” which features his very special, verbal introduction.

After his space-age intro, we’ll listen to a more a wonderful holiday song by Paul Simon and it features his now-requisite world beats. Off his CD So Beautiful or So What, we’ll check out “Getting Ready for Christmas Day.”  From here, we’ll hear one of my favorite Christmas songs by the British musician Kate Rusby. It’s called “Here we Come A-Wassailing,” and it’s about spreading holiday cheers through caroling, or “wassailing.” Ending the set will be a fun Hawaiian track called “Mele Kalikimaka,” by Debbie Davis and Matt Perrine off a Putumayo CD called A Family Christmas.

Let’s head to the Ukraine now to hear another one of my favorite songs. This one is by Pink Martini and it’s a Ukrainian Bell Carol called “Shchedryk.” Such a beautiful number that is featured on their Joy to the World CD, which has a bunch of unique holiday World Music songs (and not just Christmas). I’ll follow that with another Pink song, this one called “Ocho Kandelikas,” or Eight Little Candles. And it features some very pretty vocals by NPR’s Ari Shapiro and China Forbes.

This whole set of music will be brimming with World Music holiday goodness. We’ll hear two tracks by a band called TribecaStan, who play a host of worldly instruments. Off their CD called Coal, Again! We’ll hear the song “Good King What’s His Name?” And we’ll hear their track “Little Drummer Boychik.” Very fun stuff. Plus mixed into the set will be a song called “Hanukia,” by the singer Kat Parra. This track has some Afro-Caribbean beats, and is on a CD devoted to Sephardic Jews.

So, it wouldn’t be the holidays without some Dub-themed Christmas Carols, right? Well, I’m not really sure about that, but coming up after the Pink Martini set will be a Dub-inspired version of “Jingle Bells” by a DJ named Matco—this will make two different versions of this song. Also in this set, we’ll hear some Cajun Christmas tunes off the Putumayo label. From the New Birth Brass Band, we’ll check the song “Santa’s Second Line.” And we also heard the song “’Zat You, Santa Claus,” by Ingrid Lucia…nothing like a Zydeco Christmas.

Ok, the next track is sort of a stretch, in that it’s not your typical Holiday song (then again, most of what I’m playing on this show is not)—it is however, backed in World Music goodness. By the Playing for Change organization, which brings together dozens of musicians from around the globe and puts them together on individual songs, we’ll hear their cover of the Beatles “All You Need is Love,” which is a great message for this time of year (or any, really) but it’s not “Christmas-y.” Hopefully you’ll forgive me. Plus, I'll thrown in one of my favorite holiday songs by U2 called "I Believe in Father Christmas."

Like a pair of stockings, the other songs in this set will stretch the fabric of Holiday World Music. We’ll check out some groovy, lounge-y type of holiday music off a compilation that I picked up when I worked retail at Nordstrom, put out by them—yes, I’m serious. We’ll hear the song “Christmas Swing,” by Django Reinhardt. And we’ll check out the “Malibu Remix” of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Then, as promised and before I close out this year’s Holiday show, we’ll stretch the bounds one more time. This time, it’ll be in a punk-ish sort of Holiday way with a tune by the Pogues, so brace yourselves. We’ll hear the song “Fairytale of New York,” which also features the singer Kristy MacColl.

As a final nod to the holiday season, we’ll wrap it up and the classic “Auld Lang Syne (Goodbye from the Space Age Bachelor Pad)” by the man who started the show—Esquivel, so you know it’ll be done in his very hip style.

Since it is such a mellow night, I thought it best to stay sort of calm for the second hour of the show. In fact, I’d like to imagine you’ll be tuned in while sitting by the fire place and that perhaps you’re doing holiday related things such as wrapping those last minute gifts or struggling over the directions of some maniacal toy. First up, and off the same Paul Simon CD we started hour one with, we’ll hear the great song “Dazzling Blue,” which Simon wrote about his wife, Edie Brickell. I’ll follow that with a song off a Putumayo CD called Garden of Eden—the song is called “Midal,” by the artist Telek, who is from Papua New Guinea. 

Also off this Gardens of Eden CD on the Putumayo label, we’ll check out the song “Tautai e’” by the pan-pacific band Te Vaka. They hail from New Zealand, which wouldn’t that be a fun place to go? Perhaps tickets for a trip will be in my stocking on Christmas morning.  Starting off another set will be something simple and nice. Off the wonderful CD by the Malaysian ukulele player and singer Zee Avi, who actually lives in the US now, we’ll hear the songs “Milestone Moon,” and “Stay in the Clouds-”—a little sky theme I see now.

Rounding out the rest of this week’s show will be a couple of tracks off the soundtrack for the Woody Allen film “Vicky Cristina Barcelona;” and a set of Irish tunes featuring the Chieftains with their cover of “Have I told you Lately that I loved You,” which features Van Morrison and the song “Dunmore Lassies,” which features Ry Cooder, as well as some Celtic Beats by the bands Aspetta and African Vibrations. Then we’ll end the show with some acoustic music from Africa and France.

If you have the chance and need to escape the usual Christmas music, I hope you are able to tune into this week’s World Music Show, heard Saturday from 8:00-10:00 p.m. on Richmond Public Radio, 88.9 WCVE. Plus you can stream the show online via this website. Also, be sure to follow the show on Twitter @wcveworldmusic and on Facebook at The World Music on WCVE.