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One World, Many Cultures

Let me ask you this: Have you ever seen this fine blue planet from space? Unless you're an astronaut, then like me, you've only seen the world via pictures. And although those pictures are glorious, do they do justice to just how small this place really is? Maybe. And with that perspective, when your eyeing the globe like this, do you ever think "Man, there are so many different and unique cultres down there"? I do, and on this week's World Music Show (9/29), we'll try to cram in as many of these cultures as we can within a two-hour time frame.

Will we succeed? 

Of course not, but that's part of the fun of The World Music Show. So let's kick the can on this week's show, and we'll see what happens. To start off, we'll hear a couple of tracks off a sweet compilation called "Cafe con Musica." This CD, culled together by the folks at Nacional Records, is a snapshot of the current Latin alternative scene. There's a ton of genres on this, from rock to electronica and beyond. Featured from this CD will be the band Los Amigos Invisibles. Discovered by David Byrne when he found an imported copy of an album in a record store and loved it, Los Amigos Invisibles, have been together for more than 20-years, mostly on Byrne's record label Luaka Bop. However, in the past year, they've switched record labels and while celebrating that anniversary, they recieved their first Latin Grammy Award. 

Also off that CD, we'll hear from DJ Bitman, who has a sense of humor (one of his CDs was called Bitman & Robin) as well as good musical DJ'ing abilities. Here's an interesting side note about Bitman, too. He is an ex-boogie-board champ and a lifelong Chilean surfer. Musically, he's known for inviting different vocalists to guest on his songs, and on this track "Shine," it's no different. 

Other highlights in the first hour, will include tracks from Bebel Gilberto, and a smattering of World Music duets, including one featuring Alan Stivell and Youssou N'Dour, who will also hear from again with a duet that features Nenah Cherry. Plus we'll hear from the Ethiopian--now--San Francisco resident, Gigi, as well as a duet from Egypt's Eastenders and Germany's Shady Sheha. 

To round out the first hour, we'll go local, with a couple of bands from right here in Richmond, Va. We'll hear from the multi-talented and multi-ensembled band Rattlemouth. This band is an Ethio-Jazz and World Groove powerhouse, and they cut through spirited instrumental updates of classics from around the world (Mali, Ethiopia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Cuba, Jamaica, Lebanon, etc.), plus similarly flavored originals. They often can be found playing locally at Crossroads Cafe in Forest Hill. Another band featured this hour will be Balkanize! They are Richmond's only Old World TurkoBalkan folk music band, playing danceable songs from Albania, to Serbia and Turkey. 

In the second hour, we'll continue the mini-theme of duets, while also throwing in some unique cover tunes. It's always interesting hearing a "world music" take on a couple of classic rock or pop tunes. And with these two covers, "Walk on the Wild Side (done orginally by Lou Reed) and "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)(done originally by Hall & Oates), you'll see what I mean by unique. After listening to these, you may want to seek out the originals just to do a comparison. 

As for the duets mentioned, I'll have a mini-Ziggy fest, as in a triple play of Ziggy Marley tunes. One, to reuse the word "unique," will be his duet with the actor Woody Harrelson--who can really sing, and another with the late Heavy D, while the third song in that trifecta will be with Paul Simon. Thrown into that duet mix, will be the song "Tropicalia" done with the original singer of that song, Beck, along with the Brazilian reggae star Seu Jorge

Maybe this week's show should be retitled "Duets & Stuff," because some added tracks to this genre will be songs featuring UB40 and Chrissy Hynde; Peter Gabriel and Youssou N'Dour (again--that's three times this week!) and one of my favorite duets--Elvis Costello and Jimmy Cliff, doing the song "Seven Day Weekend," that was featured on the film "Club Paradise." 

So, after traveling through the myriad of sound on this week's show, you can see that though we touched many cultures in this one world we live on, we hardly scratched the surface--and I'm ok with that.

The World Music Show aires Saturday nights at 10pm on WCVE Public Radio or online via this fine website. You can follow my musings via Twitter, @wcveworldmusic