Putting a Cap on 2011
Yes, it's true--the end of 2011 is here. And, I feel lucky enough to have had the chance to play some great World Music for you, especially in the new time slot of 10pm to Midnite (The World Music Show was on Saturdays at 1pm while the Opera was out of season). So on this week's World Music Show (Saturday at a special time, 8:00 p.m.), I get the opportunity to play of my favorite new songs from the past year.
But first, a little recap of some of the highlights from this past year on The World Music Show that I thought were pretty cool--hopefully, if you heard them, you did too. With each show, I try to come up with a theme or a story that will make the two hours of World Music fun to listen to. Most shows either concentrated on locales such as France or Italy, or Brazil. But one of my favorite shows revolved around the idea of playing music from all four corners of the African continent. I broke the show into East, West, North and South and threw in some stuff from the middle as well as from the outer edges. Not only was this enjoyable to hear, but it was interesting to hear the differences in music, say from Egypt to South Africa.
A favorite theme I like to cover features cover tunes, (no pun intended) from around the globe. Hearing interesting takes of some songs you probably already know, is a great way to hear something different than you might not have heard on the initial hearing. Aligned with that theme, was an hour show spent on pop/rock musicians who take a dip into pool of World Music. Artists like Beck, The Police, Bjork, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, David Byrne, Paul Simon. and even The Beatles. So many artists took that plunge that it makes for a fun show.
On another show, I featured some excellent guitar work from some really talented musicians out of South Africa and West Africa, including Ali Farka Toure and Mamane Barka. And, there were other shows in which we took a tour of the Islands and heard what songs were on my Ipod. On another show, I played songs from random holidays found from around the world, such as "World Enviroment Day," the Queen's Birthday in New Zealand, a Bank Holiday in Ireland and Foundation Day in Australia. The fun never stops, right? Plus, there were other shows that revolved around Father's Day or Summer Road Trips or even Live Summer Music festivals. And, I even had one show that was World Music--USA style, that featured a bunch of local bands, like Bio Ritmo, Rattlemouth and The Richmond Indigenious Gourd Orchestra.
A couple of my all time favorite shows (yes, I have a lot, right?) were when I got to showcase an artist for an entire hour. If you were lucky, you got to hear hour-long retrospectives from Paul Simon, Fela Kuti, and David Byrne.
Whenever I could, I played newly released music, and that's where this week's one-hour retrospective falls. My top favorite new release for 2011 has to be from Paul Simon. Ever since his breakthrough "World Music" album "Graceland," Simon has used elements of World Music in his songs. His latest CD, "So Beautiful or So What," showcases this perfectly. You'll hear some really great non-pop instruments on this album, such as the Tabla, the Dobro, the Talking Drum and the Kora. Simon, who is 70 years old, is still proving he's a talented musician.
Next in line in terms of some of my favorite new releases is from Zee Avi. This Malaysian singer, songwriter and ukelele player has the sweetest, most uplifting voice I've heard in a long time.
Other highlights from 2011 include:
- Red Hot + Rio 2
- Playing for Change 2
- The Jolly Boys, featuring Albert Minott (Great Expectations)
- Luis Conte (En Casa de Luis)
- Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Songs from a Zulu Farm)
I think this past year was not only fun, but a learning experience for me. I got to try some new ideas out that I couldn't do in my old time slot, and I got to play some other tunes that I wouldn't work that time slot either. I hope you enjoyed the year as much as I did. Here's to a new year with new ideas and some great music.
The World Music Show aires normally on Saturdays from 10:00 p.m. - Midnite. But this week, it'll be on at 8:00 p.m. on WCVE Public Radio.
You can follow me on Twitter, at: @wcveworldmusic