Like competition? Like biking? Well on this week’s World Music Show (7/15) you get a mix of both, which is odd for a World Music Show, right? Well, let me explain…
Seriously, there’s no competition but this week’s show does have a biking theme. Blame or thank the Tour de France, which is the epic bike race that takes place in numerous stages around the French countryside. Now, I love biking and each Tour, I keep trying to understand the Tour more and more (sorry, I’m just slow when it comes to digesting this event). But that’s no reason we can’t celebrate it with music from this beautiful country, right? So, we’ll ride around the country to check out some really great French music from now to the past. Plus, we’ll also hear music from other countries too—you know, to break up the stages.
Stage 1 through 4 (otherwise known as Hour One)
Standout racers include Team Paris Combo, who have a new CD out called Tako Tasubo. This quartet takes the style of Django Reinhardt, French Chanson (lyric-driven music) and adds their own twist—namely catchy hooks and beats.
Team Lo Jo: This French band of musicians are acrobats when it comes to style and sound—literally. They are part of the French Nouvelle generation, which takes old style French music and updates it. This band also likes to put on shows in which acrobats have been known to play a part.
Team Old School: Now, that’s not a band name, but instead we’ll go back in time to hear from the masters of French pop music, which include Serge Gainsbourg, France Gall, Brigitte Bardot, and Jacques Dutronc. Both France Gall and Brigitte Bardot were part of what was called the “Ye-Ye” girl phenomenon, which took over the airwaves in Franc in the 60s in order to compete (or complete) with the girl bands that were being played in the UK and in America.
Green Jersey (there’s one Tour reference): The lounge band Fous de La Mer are from San Francisco and have a way of weaving in French styles into electronic but calming rhythms; Pink Martini—this band from Portland Oregon, have a style all their own. In once instance they channel Django Reinhardt, in another they incorporate a large scale Orchestra to sing Asian or Middle Eastern ballads. Also included in this category is the band Gipsy Kings, who hail, by the way from the South of France.
Polka Dot Jerseys: This is for the non-French riders in this week’s event. In these stages we’ll hear from Orchestra Baobab, Max Capote, Axel Krygier, Michael Kiwanuka and Paul Simon.
Stages 5 through 8 (sorry—that’s all the stages I have!)
Stand our racers in these final stages include Piers Faccini, who’s style is like no other. Combining soulful lyrics and musical phrases, his songs delve into real world issues (like “Drone,” which we’ll hear). He’s got a soft yet forceful touch in his music that leaves a lasting impression.
Team We Are Enfant Terrible: This trio has been known to use the sounds of a Nintendo Game Boy in their songs in order to put their unique stamp on their electronic music, which also has a sense of humor (songs induced “Pin up Butter,” “Ghetto Beach Blaster”).
Green Jerseys: Aquaserge—like We Are Enfant Terrible, this band uses some electronically inspired music, but ads a bit of old-school French sound to their music; Fatal Mambo, who play a style of French Salsa and do a great cover of “In the Summertime.” Les Primitifs du Future, who also channel Django Reinhardt in a fun way, mostly I think by having famed cartoonist R. Crumb on mandolin.
Polka Dot Jerseys: Cafe Tacvba, Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band (doing a great cover of “Jungle Fever”), Dom la Nena, Monica da Silva (of Complicated Animals), a couple of tracks from Playing for Change (which features Kieth Richards & Los Lobos, among many others), and a great cover, well, sort-of, by Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Once our long ride is over, we’ll all meet up at a cafe near the Champs Elysées to sip some espresso and talk about our adventures.
The World Music Show hit the stages on Saturday form 8:00-10:00 p.m. on 88.9 WCVE Richmond Public Radio. Follow the race on Twitter @wcveworldmusic and on Facebook at the World Music Show on WCVE.