Is Radio Sound Salvation?
The great Elvis Costello (one of my hero's) once sang that "radio is a sound salvation." Well on this week's World Music Show (5/25), the sounds you'll hear may not bring you salvation but they'll certainly be able to entertain you. And not to knock the other stations that you hear around town (because there are some good ones) but to me radio, and particularly music heard on the radio, has always been a way to transform my understanding of the World. And sadly, you just don't get to hear music like that from commercial stations.
When I was a kid, I had this big radio that I kept next to my bed. It had AM, FM and MHZ and other frequencies on it. And before falling asleep, I would slowly spin the dial from one end to other to hear what was out there. On the MHZ frequency, I used to be able to pick up airplane and CB chatter, while on the FM dial I picked up all sorts of stations in the L.A. area (AM was something my Dad listened to). That was one way I was able to hear Dr. Demento as well gain an appreciation for 70s rock. But when I do this now, I don't get the same joy or excitement I had when I was younger. All I seem to hear is shouting and the same song over and over. And now, of course, there's all sorts of "radio" out there, from Satellite to HD stations--but all that is for another discussion. Let's get back to salvation.
I'm going to take a stab in the dark and say that when you hear World Music, perhaps you're mind or spirit is transformed to another place and time. It is for me. With that, here's the line-up for this week's show.
We'll start off with some Creole Soul music from the Trinidad-born trumpet player Etienne Charles. Off his upcoming fourth CD, called Creole Soul, you'll hear mixes of French, Spanish and Caribbean sounds, as well musical references to Haitian Creole chants, blues, bebop and R & B, as well nods to Rocksteady, Reggae, Kongo and Calypso music. In this first set, we'll also hear some Funky Tropicalismo music from The Young-Holt Trio, who do a fun song called "Wack Wack." And we'll visit the Tropical Discotheque to hear from the Sofrito collective, which features heavy tropical dancefloor sounds from Africa, the Caribbean and South America. The song being spun will be "Je Ne Bois Pas Beaucoup," by Les Ya Toupas Du Zaire.
Transitioning from those heavy tropical sounds, we'll move into...well...more sort of tropical sounds. We'll hear from a bunch of Brazilians who now live in New York. The band Forro in the Dark all met in the same bar and discovered that they had something in common. After forming the band and playing in the same bar, fellow New Yorker, David Byrne happened upon them and helped them get a record. We'll hear a couple of songs from them, including one with David Byrne. Paird with Forro will tunes from Bajofondo and some old-style, fuzzy Brazilian guitar sounds from the 70s. We'll hear from Fabio (no, not that one) and from Com Os Falcoes Reais.
To round out the hour and to help you along to salvation, we'll hear a nice cover or really an updated version of the song "Clocks" done by Coldplay with members of the Buena Vista Social Club. And I'll throw in some Brazilian sounds from Paul Simon.
For hour two, you'd think I'd play the song "Soul Salvation," from The English Beat, but sadly, I just thought of that now. However, the music in this hour will be just as good. It'll kick off with some excellent, fun, French pop from the 1960s (a current favorite era and genre of mine). Kicking off the set will be a couple of female singers who dominated the charts in France. We'll hear the song "Tu La Revois," by Ria Bartok and the song "Impatiente" by the girl band Les Gam's. Also in this set will tracks from Michel Polnareff, Marie Laforet and Jacques Dutronc.
Switching gears and genres yet again (becuase what is salvation without a little variety?), we'll move into some Reggae with tunes from Jimmy Cliff, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, followed by some Ska from Madness.
If you had to pick a place to stop on, though and to turn up the volume on, then at this point in the show would be that spot. In this chunk of music, we'll explore the sounds of Arabesque music, which blends traditional Arabic music with the modern sounds of electronica. Lumped in here, which sounds bad when reading it, but not when hearing it, will be a song from the late Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros, who was instrumental when it came to helping The Clash explore world beats; and we'll hear some Afrobeat from 1970s Nigeria, with the band Bola Johnson & His Easy Life Top Beats.
Of course, like many a show, I'll throw in a few other surprises. Will this show bring you salvation? Well, you tell me after hearing it. The World Music Traveling Salvation Show can be heard Saturday nights at 10:00 p.m. on WCVE Public Radio on 88.9FM or online. You can join the fun by following the show on Twitter, @wcveworldmusic