Maybe it's just the encroaching coldness that got me thinking or actually got my body thinking. And it's thinking that for this week's World Music Show (11/16), it had better start moving. Because when there's a cold front that pretty much stays in place until March, your body can do one of two things: It can hibernate or it can be active. I opt for the later (at least for now--get back to me in January). So, what better way is there to get your body moving than by throwing a party?
And that's exactly what we're going to do--at least for hour one. Kicking off the show will be a couple of tracks from a Putumayo release called "Afro-Latin Party," which features beats from African salsa to Cuban son. These are songs that have been heard in nightclubs from Dakar to Havana. We'll start with the band Pepe & the Bottle Blondes, who are actually from Portland, Oregon. Also, for those of you taking notes, Pepe used to play with another Portland band, Pink Martini. Following Pepe will be a song from the Cuba/Jamaica/UK band Ska Cubano, who have mastered blending both Ska beats with Afro-Cuban percussion.
Speaking of Cuban sounds, thrown into the first set--but by no means as a way to hide him, will be a couple of songs from the great Desi Arnaz--mostly known to many as Ricky Ricardo. But he was much more than that. He was a skilled musician and through his nightclub act and recordings (as well as the "I Love Lucy" show), introduced many Americans to beats of Cuba. In fact, a fun little battle you'll want to listen for, will be a comparison between his version of "Babalu" and one by the preceeding band, Ska Cubano. Which one will dominate? I have a good idea, but you should let me know your choice. Closing out this first set will be a couple of songs by one of my favorite alternative Latin bands, Cafe Tacuba.
To keep the beats going, although they'll slow down to a nice groove, will be a song from a great female guitarist and singer, Eljuri. Ecudorian/New Yorker Eljuri may have been compared to the likes of Carlos Santana in some articles, but her playing and ferocity stand out in her own right. On the song "Empuja," off her latest CD "Fuerte," she partners with the legendary producers/musicians Sly & Robbie (hence the slowed down groove), as well with the singer Mario Munoz. Also in this set will be more great guitar work by the duo Rodrigo y Gabriela and the band C.U.B.A. Plus, they'll be some masterful instrumental Cuban music by the band Afro-Cubism, whose members were once part of The Buena Vista Social Club.
Closing out the Latin Party Hour will be some Brazilian tracks from the singer Tamy and the singer Monica da Silva (who is actually from Grand Rapids, MI), as well as from Marisa Monte and from the band Tribalistas. Also in the closing chunk will be a song from the local Richmond band Quatro na Bossa, who are fun to see live. And, for an odd twist, for some reason, I threw in the Malaysian singer and ukulele player, Zee Avi to end the show.
The party will continue for hour two, but the beats will change from Latin to well, just about everything. Let's dub this hour the Multicultural Hour. Beginning the first set will be a wonderful pairing of two musicians who just clicked whenever they got together: the late guitarist Ali Farka Toure and the Kora player Toumani Diabate. Luckily for us, these two made two stellar albums together before Toure's passing a few years ago. Off their CD "Ali & Toumani," we'll hear the song "Sabu Yerkoy." Following these two will be the strong voice of Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo, who does justice to two cover songs--"Move on Up" (which features John Legend) and the song "Cold Sweat." Ending this first chunk of music will be a classic song--and one of my favorites--by Bob Marley, called "Kinky Reggae."
The beats will change yet again (becuase that's the way we like to roll on the World Music Show!) from those African beats over to some Arabian and Electronic ones. Off a Six Degrees compilation called "Arabian Travels," we'll hear from the band Banco de Gaia, who named their song "Sakarya," after a town in Turkey that was devasted by an Earthquake years ago. Though this band hails from the UK, their beats are pure electronic/Arabic. Pushing up close to that song will be some Tabla Beat Science music, which is electronic music heavy in percussion and heavy in the use of the Tabla. We'll hear a fun song called "Don't Worry Dot Com," by Talvin Singh. Closing out this electronic set will be a frenetic song by the Mexican tech band Titan, who on their debut CD back in the late 90s, had help from both Michael Franti and the Beasite Boys.
To close out this self-titled Multicultural Hour will be a mixed up set of tunes. We'll hear from Brazilian Tom Ze, as well from Moussa Doumbia, whose song dates back to Nigeria in the 1970s. And we'll plug into some more electronic/loungy/swing music from the Japanese band Pizzicato Five who'll sing about a "Go-Go Dancer"; as well as from another Japanese band who liked to sing about food, Cibbo Matto. And thrown in for good measure will be another electronic song from the UK band Morcheeba.
So between the Latin Party hour and the Multicultural Hour, I think your body should get some good exercise--although, since the show aires from 8:00-10:00 p.m. on Saturday nights, I'm not sure if anyone will actually take me up on this exercise routine. Perhaps your ears--and mind--will get a work out. Either way, enjoy. The World Music Show can be heard on 88.9 WCVE Richmond Public Radio. Follow the show on Twitter @wcveworldmusic.