Stretching the Boundaries
In thinking about this week's World Music Show blog (4/7), perhaps the above title should be changed to "Stretching the Borders," for part of the theme of the show this go-round is that I'm trying to expand the definition of "World Music." Call me an upstart if you will, but part of what I like to do is to explore when the beats of "World Music," began creeping into the fabric of "Pop Music."
Did it begin with Paul Simon's Graceland? Or further back with the Beatles and George Harrison's forays into the sound of the sitar? In any event, it's a fun musical game to weave into various bits of the show. So when you tune in, see if you can pick out the songs and artists I'm showcasing for this week's theme.
However, to kick off the show this week, we're going to hear more from the new Chieftains CD, called "Voice of Ages." Can you believe they're celebrating 50 years as a band? I'm always impressed when bands like them, or many others, are able to slug it out or stay together for so long and are able to make some pretty viable music. Of course The Chieftains have been getting help from many of Rock & Roll's most talented or up-and-coming artists. This latest CD is no exception. We'll hear a track that features the melodiac voice of Bon Iver as well as a jumpy tune that features the Punch Brothers. I'll complete this Irish set with a song from Mick McAuley as well as one from Alan Stivell.
And like many of the World Music Shows, we'll dance around the planet, visiting various places to explore other sounds and beats. For instance, we'll transition from Ireland to another island--Martinique (talk about a weather upgrade), to hear some Zouk dance music from Kali, who likes to sing songs that are both bounceable, but that also have a some politically-themed lyrics. And we'll hear from the musician D'Gary and his band Jihe', who are from the island of Madagascar. On his track, be sure to listen for the Marovany, which is a Box Zither, as well as the Kabosy, which is a four-to-six stringed guitar.
And speaking of danceable tunes, we'll also hear a couple of cuts from the last Sergio Mendes CD, called "Encanto." On that CD, he has once again partnered with the Black Eyed Peas Will. I.am. One song we'll hear will feature Will. I. am and Siedah Garrett and we'll hear one featuring Jovanotti. Also in that set will be some Super Guitar Soukous music which, even though Soukous is dance music, this is more a soulful blend of African guitar music. We'll hear a track from a cool band called the Gueatan System.
To keep that guitar theme going a bit, I'll end the hour with some frentic but masterful guitar music from the likes of Rodrigo y Gabriela, the Gipsy Kings and the Latin Playboys, which, featured two members of Los Lobos (David Hildago and Louie Perez), as well as Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake.
So what about that theme of "Stretching the Boundaries/Borders," that I was talking about? Well, I like to save the stretching for hour two, because, like a good programmer, it's my goal to get you listen to the entire show. Mixed in the first chunk of music will not only be new music from Ziggy Marley but a couple of tracks from the late Joe Strummer. This is where some of the stretching comes in. Strummer, former member of the great punk band The Clash, always liked to infuse his music with little bits of world beats. In fact The Clash were heavily influenced by reggae, which led many other British artists, including Elvis Costello and The Police, to do the same thing. And, I think with that little push by The Clash, this led to part of the Ska revivalist movement that soon took place right around the same time that The Clash and Punk were hitting America--but that's a different story. From Strummer, we'll hear his cover of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song," (a nice tie in with Ziggy, don't you think?) as well as a bopping, global tune called "Bhindi Bhagee."
And in looking at my playlist now, I can see how I went from the above Ziggy/Strummer set straight into a set that features some Ska/Reggae and Mento music. It could be that after hearing Strummer, I thought of The Clash, which led me to remembering how much I love Ska and Reggae music. So, we'll hear from The English Beat, UB40 and The Jolly Boys--who provide the Mento music part (Mentio pre-dates both Reggae and Ska in Jamaica and is dancehall music). The Jolly Boys do a great cover of the Iggy Pop/Stooges song "The Passenger."
To cap off the show and this week's theme will be a couple of songs that I think do "Stretch the Borders," of World Music inasmuch that The Beatles, to me anyway, were one of the first Pop bands to feature an element of World Music in their music. We'll hear a remarkable instrumental version of George Harrison's "Within You Without You," that I found on their Anthology CD (#2). And, I'll end the hour with a song by one of my favorite 80's, artsy alternative bands--XTC. Though they were certainly different and not too main stream at the time, and they did utilize many different and sometimes odd arrangements of songs, they didn't really utilize any "World Music" beats--except for one song. The track "It's Nearly Africa," which is off their "English Settlement" album (how I orginally heard it), has some unique African sounding drumbeats through out the song. If you heard the promo for this week's World Music Show, this song was the song in the background.
Well there you have it. A few choice cuts spread throughout the show that hopefully showcase my little theme. In the future, as I've done in the past, I will do a more in-depth show around this theme--because it's so fun to give a second (or third or fourth) listen to some songs you've perhaps heard before, that on a deeper listen, you'll be able to detect some elements of World Beats.
The World Music Show aires Saturday nights at 10pm on WCVE Public Radio. You can listen online via this website. And you can follow my exploits via Twitter. Look me up, @wcveworldmusic.