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Nomadic Travels

It’s amazing to me how many themes I can squeeze out of the idea of “world” and “travel.” For instance, on this week’s World Music Show (8/19), we’re going to be taking some nomadic travels.

This is thanks in part to some new music from a band who, after a 10-year-hiatus, has a new CD out and in which they describe themselves as musical nomads. What could be better than that as a description or theme for this week’s show? It’s hard to beat.

So, be prepared to have this theme beaten to death on this week’s show—well, ok, it won’t be too bad.

 With that, let’s begin the travels. And we’ll start with the band who inspired this week’s idea. The trio Mosquitos just released a new CD after mentioned break. The band was and is known for melding Brazilian melodies with a New York style of pop.

The husband and wife part of the band, Chris Root (who is from Brooklyn) and Juju Stalbach (who is from Brazil), created a side project or a new band after their break-up or time off, called Undersea Poem to some success. Plus, during this break they traveled—quite a bit, it seems, to places like Escondido, Puerto Rico and Oaxaca. It’s from these extended travels that came up with tracks from their new CD called Mexican Dust. It’s their fourth album. By the way, not to be left out, is musician Marshall Smith.

 And the theme on this album is the search for a home, one that lyricist Stulbach addresses in the song “Estrangeira,” which we’ll hear. “Estrangeira” is Portuguese for “foreigner,” says Stulbach, who says it’s “because I felt like a foreigner everywhere. The album was a little bit of us trying to look for home—in Brazil, New York, Mexico. The element of ‘dust’ is important—we weren’t really planted anywhere.”

Off that CD, we’ll also hear the title track “Mexican Dust.”

 In other selections of our travels, we’ll hear from the Canadian/Cuban musician Alex Cuba—no lack in travels from him either. On his song “Chekere,” he says “is a song about the importance of the instrument chekere in afrocuban music. Also the drums you hear are from a secret society in Cuba, called abakua drums. Much older than congas, which gives the song a deep spiritual sound.”

Then for some nomadic compilations, we’ll hear some really great tracks from a CD called Baile Bucanero, by a band—and I say that loosely, called Ondatropica. This is really two musicians who met on the streets of Bogota and who shared a love of music so deep their started working together and pulled a whole bunch of musicians together to record some music. 

 Plus, we’ll head to Lisbon, Portugal to hear some tunes from a compilation called Onda Sonora. Put out on the label Red Hot +, which are the same people who did Red Hot + Rio (1 & 2), Red Hot + Blue, etc, they highlight music from that region—but they take it back in a way. What I mean is that they mention that much of the music from that region was brought to them by way of the slave trade and since then it’s become a melting pot of music. We’ll check out some cuts that feature a few well known musicians, such as Carlinhos Brown, who redo some classic Portuguese songs.

Off another compilation, but by no means nomadic in nature, we’ll head to Nigeria to hear some classic Afrobeat from Fela Kuti & Africa 70 as well as from The Anansa Professionals. Added to this chunk of music will also be some beautiful string work by Ali Farka Toure (on guitar), Toumani Diabate (on the Kora) and a track from Mamane Barka, who is one of the last known players of an instrument called the Biram, which is made out of calabash wood in the shape of a boat (he comes from a fishing village).

 In other nomadic news, we’ll hear from a musician who likes to meld Reggae and Dub music by also adding some political as well as spiritual messages. The musician Nattali Rize, like Michael Franti, takes on the style and makes it work for her, by even mixing in some rap and with the help of musicians like Dre Island and Jah 9.

 Other highlights, in just a roundabout way, to look for, include tracks from Shonen Knife, Nina Miranda, La Vida Boheme and Antibalas. Plus, we’ll hear a couple of fun covers that were featured on the film “How to be a Latin Lover.” One is a cover of Blondie’s “Call Me,” and the other is a cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes,” done by Carla Morrison.

So, whether you’re a nomadic traveler or one a heart, you’ll be sure to find something on this week’s show. Tune in Saturday night from 8-10pm on 88.9 WCVE Richmond Public Radio. You can stream the show via this website and you can also view live streaming track listings (and listings from past shows too!). And, if that were’n’t enough, you can find the show on Twitter @wcveworldmusic and on Facebook at The World Music Show on WCVE.