Two World Class Tributes
Once in awhile, I like to showcase a band or "thing," that I think deserves a little more attention. I like to call these "mini-tributes." And, depending on the artist/band or "thing," I can either dedicate a whole hour to this showcase or I can put together a "mini-tribute." On this week's World Music Show (3/9), it'll be the latter.
Let's start first with the mini-tribute to the "thing." In this case, we'll salute the organization called Playing for Change. The Playing for Change "thing" is that it's a foundation, dedicated to connecting the world through music. They provide resources to musicians and their communities around the world. It all started about a decade ago, when a small group of documentary filmmakers set out with a dream to create a film rooted in the music of the streets. From that simple begining, the idea has blossomed into a global sensation that not only includes local musicians from villages and towns--both big and small, but it also includes musicians of every level of renown, including people like Bono, Keb Mo and others.
When the group of filmmakers started traveling the world filming and recording musicians, the crew became intimately involved with the music and people of each community they visited. Although many of these communities had limited resources and a modest standard of living, the people in them were full of generosity, warmth, and above all they were connected to each other by a common thread: music.
Out of these discoveries, the Playing For Change Foundation was born and made its mission to ensure that anyone with the desire to receive a music education would have the opportunity to do so. The Playing For Change Foundation is dedicated to the fundamental idea that peace and change are possible through the universal language of music. The orgaznization can always use help, by either donations (CD sales) or time. They've even visited cities around the country, including Richmond.
So far, PFC has put out two really great CDs, filled with both original songs as well as with cover songs. The key point about these CDs is that the producers will take one song and have a dozen musicians from around the globe record it, then they'll edit it all together to make one, beautiful song. You can see this process in action, by going to their website and looking up some of the videos they've put together (since the audio version can't do what the filmed version does--give it justice).
In the first hour, they'll be a good chunk or mini-tribute to PFC, which will feature songs off both of their CDs. Some of the artists you'll hear will include Bono, Bob Marley (whose vocals are obviously edited in), Rocky Dawuni, and Grandpa Elliott, who was first noticed by the PFC crew playing harmonica on the streets of New Orleans. Some of the songs you'll hear will be "Talkin' Bout a Revolution," "War/No More Trouble," "Higher Ground," and a song written for PFC called "Groove in G."
Some of the other sounds in hour one that you'll hear include songs by Mamane Barka (who is one of the last masters of an instrument called the Biram), Paris Combo, Ceu, Arctic Monkeys, and some new music from the Latin band Tiempo Libre.
But the mini-tributes don't stop there. In hour two, we'll salute one of my favorite Ska bands--The English Beat, though if you're reading this in Great Britain, you may know them as The Beat, or if you're reading this blog in Austrailia, you may know them as The British Beat. In any case, they came out in the early 1980s. They really hit it big, thanks in part to their cover of the Smokey Robinson song "Tears of a Clown," and their hit song "Mirror in the Bathroom," though they've been putting out albums before their "big break."
When I first heard The English Beat, way back in high school (yes, I'm dating myself--it happens), they were so fresh, new and really fun to dance to. It opened up this whole world of Ska music to me--and hearing them (along with The Specials, Madness, and even Fun Boy Three to an extent), really prompted me to explore the history of Ska music. And, listening to the lyrics of Dave Wakling and Ranking Roger, which were often of a social/political nature, also got me to explore World politics.
So, for this mini-tribute, we'll hear about seven songs, starting with a few off of their excellent CD "I Just Can't Stop It," followed by their last CD as a the orginal band "Special Beat Service." Then, we'll transition into a few great songs by General Public, which featured Wakling and Roger (other Beat members went on to form Fine Young Cannibals.) If you listen to the show on a regular basis, then you can tell my affection for The English Beat, because I'll frequently feature a snippet of their song "Twist and Crawl," as an outgoing song as the hour ends.
In other parts of hour two, we'll hear songs from the legendary Jimmy Cliff, Michael Franti and Spearhead, and some live music from David Byrne. It's going to be a spectacular show for your ears and your feet, since you'll want to get up and dance.
The World Music Show aires Saturday nights at 10:00 p.m. on WCVE Public Radio, 88.9FM or online via this website. You can follow the show on Twitter @wcveworldmusic.