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One World, Many Cultures

When looking for a theme for this week’s World Music Show (11/9), I had to look no further than to the first CD on the playlist. In fact, you could say I lifted this week’s headline from the title of that CD. But even with that thievery, the message is actually a good one. Because when you think about, what is World Music but a vast exploration of cultures through music?

Off that CD, brought to us by the Putumayo record label, we’ll hear a couple of songs that also fit into that statement. Kicking off the show will be a joint effort featuring two artists, one from France and one from Senegal. We’ll hear the song “A United Earth 1” by Alan Stivell and Youssou N'Dour. That will be followed by the song “Utopia,” sung by Ethiopian/American Gigi. These two multicultural collaborations are a great way to start off a World Music show, right? 

Thankfully, there is a whole bunch more to fill the rest of the two hour show, all of which showcase that in this one world and through the many cultures we’ll explore musically, that we’re all connected. With that, here’s the rest of this week’s line-up. 

We’ll hear a couple of tracks from the soundtrack to the film “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” which were brought to Woody Allen through the bravery of the band Guilio y Los Tellani, who literally slipped their CD under Woody’s hotel door. And, in that same set, we’ll hear some Garifuna music, which is Caribbean/Indian music, by the musician Aurelio

We’ll transition from those grooves into some classic French pop music, circa 1960s with tracks from an Elvis Presley wanna-be, Johnny Hallyday, to a great cover of Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walking,” by the singer Eileen. Thrown into this set, too, will be a song from the French screen siren Brigitte Bardot, which will be paired with a more modern French acoustic song by a band who actually hail from San Francisco, Rupa & the April Fishes

Sort of in that same vein--well, really, what I mean is the part about going back in time a bit, we’ll head over to Brazil circa 1970s to hear some fuzzy guitar sounds of some Tropicalia Psychedelic masterpieces. The word “fuzzy” is key here, since the name of the CD is called “Fuzz Banana.” Why was it named that? Well, the producer has a sense of humor. Also in this set will be a couple of tracks from a band of Ex-Patriots from Brazil who now reside in New York. The band Forro in the Dark, all met in a bar in the city, discovered that they had music in common, then formed a band. And, as luck would have it, on a night they were playing, a New Yorker named David Byrne happened to come in and catch thier show. This resulted in a record deal with his label, Luaka Bop and some song collaborations, too (one of which we’ll hear). 

To close out hour one, we’ll stick with the Brazilian theme, but the sounds will come from an unusual source. Well, it’s only unusual if you didn’t happen to hear Paul Simon’s second foray into World Beats, “Rhythm of the Saints,” which had some heavy percussion themes (and is one of favorite CDs of all time). 

For hour two, we’ll get a New Groove going on (again, pure plagerism, as that is the actual title of yet another Putumayo CD, which features some eclectic tracks from what were underground sounds (the CD is now a few years old, so my guess is that these aren’t too “underground” anymore). Off this we’ll hear the DJ Radio Citizen, with the the singer Bajka, as well UK’s Alice Russell, who once sang back up for Nigeria’s Femi Kuti (one of the sons of Fela Kuti). From there we'll head to Paris to hear a track from the Impala Lounge, which is a cool place in Paris to go to check out African music as well as sample some African cuisine. And, speaking of Fela Kuti, we’ll hear from one of his other sons, Seun.

For the rest of the show, we’ll jump around cultures from set to set. First, we’ll hear some great alternative music from the bands Fireworks and Los Amigos Invisibles. Then we’ll hear two more alternative cuts from the band Latin Playboys, who are actually an off-shoot of the long running East Los Angeles band, Los Lobos. And we’ll follow that with a cut from Mexico by the band Cafe Tacuba.

To close out the show, we’ll get all of our cultures and sounds mixed up. Starting with a track from India’s Midival Punditz, which will be followed by a couple of tracks by David Byrne. Will that be enough? Nope, we’ll keep going with songs by We Are Enfant Terrible and Matsuki Ayumi

After this dance around this one world with many cultures, hopefully, an appreciation of music from said cultures is what you’ll be left with. The World Music Show aires Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. on 88.9FM WCVE Richmond Public Radio. You can follow the show’s updates on Twitter @wcveworldmusic.