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Stranger Things

There have been some strange things in the world of World Music. Sure, some happen to think that World Music involves the spiritual, ethereal sounds of wind chimes, chants and handclaps led by people wearing burlap sacks or something of the sort. However relevant or not those styles of World Music are, in my book, I seldom give them any credence. But more importantly, what does this have to do with this week’s World Music Show (3/11)?

In a word: Zilch.

It is just another attempt or a ploy in my long line of electronic missives as a way to get you to read my blog and tune into the show. Blame my learnings as a writer and journalist—as the lead-in lines are written to get the read. Now, with that confession, I will say that I also try to tie in the headline to what’s going on with the weeks show, albeit in a dorky, pun-inspired way (the jury is still out on my effectiveness). So, the strangeness will be tied in.

But first, here’s a rundown of what to expect:  In this first hour, we’ll hear some new music from a Cuban-Neo-Soul phenom named Dayme Arocena, who is blowing the roof off of any place she sings. And we’ll begin a mini-trek through various venues to hear some live music. Plus, we’ll delve into a couple of tracks of the latest CD by Paul Simon, who after 20 some odd years, is still using world beats (hint: it’ll be strange).

Lately I feel like I'm on a roll in terms of finally getting new music to share with you. Maybe the stars have lined up or perhaps the years of begging for new music from various sources has paid off. Or could it be that the World Music Show has a presence out there in the either of bands and record companies?

Either way, I’m happy to pass along the finds I seem to be getting, like this one:

The Cuban singer Dayme Arocena is getting a lot of press lately. On show like NPR’s Alt. Latino and other area of the radio dial, Arocena is knocking the socks off of everyone she sings for. Her style is a mix of Cuban-Neo-Soul, mixed with Jazz and a little dash of R-B. Her voice is strong and powerful. Think Angelique Kidjo, Sharon Jones or Esperanza Spalding. Off her sophomore CD called Cubafonia, she mixes in some classic Cuban rhythms with the aforementioned soul. In the liner notes, Arocena says that “Cubafonia is a journey around Cuban Rythms, Culture and History. It’s the beginning of my Journey.” Off of that, we’ll start at the beginning with tracks one & two, since I with new releases I like to start at the beginning. Those tracks are “Eleggua,” and “La Rumba me Llamo Yo.”

Mixed into that first set will be some Rumba sounds for you off a nice Putumayo compilation called Rumba, Mambo, Cha-Cha-Cha, appropriately. We’ll hear the song “E.L.S.,” by the band Internationals. They’re a Belgian band that somehow managed to find the common thread between Jamaican Ska, Nigerian Afrobeat and Latin Mambos. We also hear the track “Oriente,” by the band Asere, who started out in Cuba as a band of young musicians playing the music of their grandparents.

So, I mentioned that woven throughout tonight’s show that we’d make a trek through some live venues. In our first stop, we’re landing at the Cultural Center in Rio Verde, São Paulo. From a show recorded in I believe 2015, here’s Ceu with the songs “Amor de Antigos,” and “Cangote.” Paired with that live track will be a song from Banda Uniao Black, that was the song “Africa Hot Band.” In the late 60s, early 70s, this band was at the forefront of the Black Rio Movement, which was a span of years that celebrated African culture in Brazil, akin to the Black Power Movement that was taking place in the U.S. at that time.

After that, we’ll get back to the thread of live music that is enveloping the show tonight like a python. From the stage at Carnegie Hall when he was the artist in Residence, we’ll check out Caetano Veloso. He was there in April of 2004. And on one night, he brought out his good friend David Byrne, whom Veloso credits for turning on more of the world to Brazilian music. However, in this set, we’re strictly going to hear Veloso—but don’t worry, I think some live Byrne will be coming soon. Here’s the songs “Desde Que o Samba e Samba,” and “Sampa.”

Other tracks to listen for include a a couple off another Putumayo collection. This one, called Music from the Chocolate Lands and we’ll hear the tracks “Kakou,” by Dobe Gnahore who is from the Ivory Coast and the song “Sabia,” by the band Marcantonio who are from Brazil.

And now for something Strange. Yes, here’s the strangeness I spoke about. I’m slow on the upkeep. Paul Simon, one of my favorite musicians for a number of reasons, put out a new CD last year! I thought he’d be done after the great So Beautiful or So What, but he still has more to say. And he still likes to incorporate world music instruments. Off the CD Stranger to Stranger, we’ll  “The Werewolf,” which uses instruments like the Hadjira a TromboDoo and a Big Boing mbira. I’ll follow that with a live track of the song “Wristband,” which he preformed on a Prairie Home Companion.

Rounding out the first hour will be more live music. This time, we’ll head to Live from Guest Street, which is a venue in Boston, which is where the legendary Angelique Kidjo did a great version of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” It’s a good way to end hour one, since at the top of the show, with the Cuban singer Dayme Arocena, I referenced Kidjo.

As with the first hour, in hour two hour we’ll also check out some venues for some live music. Plus, I’m going to throw in some new music from a few people and I’m even going to throw in some interesting tracks from some unusual artists, you know to keep that strange-vibe going.

But first, some more live music. Back in 2001, David Byrne, who I did say we’d hear from again, made at a stop at Austin City Limits. In his career, this was around the time he released his really great “Look into the Eyeball” CD. We’ll hear a track from that CD performed live, but first, here’s the song “Marching through the Wilderness.” That song was on his foray into Latin Dance music on his 1989 CD Rei Momo.

Speaking of Byrne, from a Luaka Bop collection called Remix, I’ll follow his live tracks with some remixes of the songs “Defect2: Curiosidade,” with Tom Ze (the John Mcentire Remix). And we’ll hear the song “Sertao,” by Moreno +2 (the Takako Minekawa Remix). I played that Luaka Bop stuff, since it ties in nicely with David Byrne, who started the second hour, since he founded Luaka Bop. Then, off another compilation, we’ll check out yet another bunch of songs off another Putumayo CD. Off a CD called A New Groove, we’ll hear the song “Crabbuckit,” the Toronto-born artist MC K-Os. I’ll follow that with the song “L.I.N.N.” by the husband & wife team of Linn & Freddie, who are from Sweden.

Other treats to look forward to in this hour include cuts from "Mr. Loverman" himself, Shabba Ranks (that’s the title of his song), along with another live track. From a show recorded in New York at a thing called RadioLoveFest, we’ll check out the band Mexrrissey, which plays covers of Morrissey songs—Morrissey, being a solo artist and former lead singer of the 80s alternative band The Smiths. This is “Suedehead.” I follow that with a new song by the band La Vida Boheme.  La Vida Bohème is an alternative independent band from Caracas, Venezuela, formed in late 2006, The band takes influence from late '80s punk, disco, funk, electronic music, jazz, salsa, reggae and dance music.

Continuing with a chunk of new music for everyone, we’ll hear the song “Ausencia,” from Lula Pena off her latest CD called Archivo Pittoresco. Lula Pena is a Fado and World music singer, composer and poet from Lisbon, Portugal. But, before her, we’ll have the “Power of Funk,” by a band called Five Alarm Funk, who are a very energetic band out of Vancouver.

Closing out the show will be an homage to the French singer Serge Gainsbourg from the band Portishead. They’ll do their cover of the song “Requiem for Anna.” Then, from Japan, I’ll play the song “Magical History Hour,” from the multi-instrumentalist Masuki Ayumu. Guess who his influences are? Lastly, from the band out of Great Britain who follow the beat of their own drum, we’ll hear from Cornershop, led by Tinger Singh. He started the label Ample Play, which gave us that Matsuki Ayumu track prior.

There’s your strange list of things happening on this week’s World Music Show, heard Saturday from 8:00-10:00 p.m. on Richmond Public Radio, 88.9 WCVE. You can stream the show via this website and you join the digital hoopla on Twitter @wcveworldmusic and on Facebook at The World Music Show on WCVE. Cheers!