It's getting to be that time of year. You know, the weather is finally being somewhat consistent, it's staying lighter longer and I can see the road signs up ahead of a future vacation. It's with that eye on the horizon that I decided to make this week's World Music Show (4/27) a mini-trip to various island nations (with other "beachy" locales thrown in). You could say that I'm getting Itchy Feet about wanting to travel.
The great thing about traveling sonically is that we can go to the farthest reaches of the globe in the blink of an eye. For instance, we'll start off in the South Pacific, specifically on the islands of Tokelau, Samoa and New Zealand. It's here that we'll hear from the band Te Vaka. Based in New Zealand, Te Vaka has tried to create contemporary, pan-Pacific music that incorporates elements from a variety of islands and cultures. The group's founder, Opetaia Foa'i, was born in Western Samoa; his father was from Tokelau and his mother from Tuvalu. After moving to New Zealand with his family when he was eight, Opetaia kept his native language of Tokelau in tact. He founded Te Vaka, which means "canoe," in 1995 and the band includes members of the Foa'i family, while other members are from nearby islands. In many of their songs, Te Vaka mixes both traditional instruments, such as slit and log drums, alongside more contemporary instruments such as electric guitars and programmed drumbeats.
Other travels in that first set will include a stop in the Caribbean to hear from Stanley Beckford, who plays a style of Jamacian folk music called Mento; and we'll hear from the long-running Ska band known as the Skatalites. You'll hear their signature song "Freedom Sounds," which is one that they play at start of every show. Plus, we'll head over to Madagascar to hear from D'Gary & Jihe'. D'Gary is a member of the Bera tribe, found on the southern end of the island. He's an expert on a few island instruments, including the 21-stringed valiha which is a bamboo zither; the marovany (box zither) and the kabosy (a four-to-six stringed guitar). His style is reminiscent of South African mbaqanga music, although he also likes to mix in an accordian, which gives his style a sort of Zydeco sound. Also from Madagascar, we'll hear a song from two sisters who are known as Tarika, which is Malagas for "The Group."
And, what would an Island theme be without a little classic Reggae from Bob Marley thrown in? Mixed into this set will also be some French Caribbean dance music from the band Wapa Sakitanou and Brazilian Tom Ze. And with that, of course, we transition from the island theme and morph into more "beachy" sounds--well, at least they are to me. We'll hear some Turkish Groove music from Mustafa Sandal and hear some beautiful music from a great pairing, that of Anoushka Shankar and Karsh Kale. They do a song called "Oceanic" that features Anoushka's late father Ravi Shankar.
So, you'd think that after that first hour my itchy feet would be satisfied--well, not quite. One hour is hardly a vacation, right? In hour two, however, we'll primarily stick to one island--or the theme of one island at least. Can you take a guess as to where we'll stop? Yep, we'll head back to Jamacia to hear some Reggae music...well sort of. The first track I'll play is actaully from Rocky Dawuni who is from Ghana. You know Reggae music is a global genre of music and it can be played by anyone from anywhere. We'll also hear from Ernest Ranglin, who is from Jamacia, with his song "Stop that Train." Plus, we'll hear a tribute songs to Bob Marley--one from Brazilian Ceu, the other from U.S. band Northern Lights, which also features folk singer Jonathan Edwards (singing the song "Waiting in Vain).
A highlight of hour two will be a mini-tribute to 2-tone, Ska revival band The English Beat. And for those of you keeping track of past shows, yes, I already did a mini-tribute to them not too long ago. However, I chose to do another one this week becuase the band is actaully playing The National during my show. So, it's sort of another nod to Dave Wakeling, one of the founders, since he's in town.
And to thow the beachy/island theme completely out the window, we'll end the show with a couple of French songs, one by Lo-Jo, the other by Eileen (who does a great cover of the Nancy Sinatra song "These Boots are Made for Walking."). Plus, the capper will be remix of a new song by Cornershop.
I'm hoping that after this week's two-hour show, you too will also have Itchy Feet because it's better to go on a trip with a bunch of people than it is to go solo. The World Music Show is heard every Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. on WCVE Public Radio, 88.9FM or online via this website. You can also follow the show on Twitter, @wcveworldmusic.