The Unofficial Start to Summer: The World Music Version, Part 1
In looking at the calendar for this week's World Music Show (5/26), I realized that this weekend marks the "unofficial" beginning of the summer season. And like any good procrastinator, as is my nature, I suddenly realized that I had to come up with some type of theme to talk about. Well, thank goodness for holidays. Because after perusing the playlist for Saturday's show, I realized that, indeed, there is a theme hidden inside that can corralate with the start of summer. So follow me as I try to persuade you on my new found theme.
When I think of summer in terms of music, one of the first things I relate to this season is live music. And as luck would have it, two of the songs that start the show are from a live recording that took place back in 2004 at Carnegie Hall. The people on stage were Brazilian Caetano Veloso and New Yorker David Byrne. Veloso was an artist in residence as part of Carnegie's Perspective Series, which meant he was able to invite a variety of musicians to play with him on stage, includeding percussionist Mauro Refosco, and cellist Jaques Morelenbaum. And don't you think Brazilian music is a great way to kick off the summer season? I do.
From the concert stage in New York, we head into the hazy orange horizon of the African Sahel, which is a region of North Africa, just south of the Saharan Desert. From this locale, we'll hear a young Tuareg guitarist and songwriter from Agadez, named Bombino. Omar "Bombino" Moctar was raised during an era of armed struggles for independence and violent suppression by government forces. How does Bombino relate to my summer theme? Well, his guitar music is magical and it can take you to warm and sunny places.
And speaking great guitar work, we'll also hear a track from Zimbabwean Oliver Mtukudzi, as well as a moving song featuring Malian musicians, guitarist Ali Farka Toure and kora player Toumani Diabate. And also from Mali, we'll hear from one of the most exciting bands in Africa today, Habib Koite & Bamada. Koite makes a blend of modern ancient music.
Featured in this first hour, too, will be a couple of more songs from Beatrice Kateme-Byakika, who I featured a few weeks ago on the show (and who got a great response from all of you). She's a singer-songwriter known for her eclectic interpretation of East African music.
In another ode to summer, I'll continue with the string of Brazilian music by featuring a track from Banda Uniao Black, who play some really jamming party music. Mixed in their set will be music from Cafe Tacuba (who recently headlined a huge music festival in their native Mexico), as well as Brazilian singer Marisa Monte, as well as the Brazilian band Tribalistas. Plus, I'll feature a Czech band called Miou Miou. Those last three acts are brought to us courtesy of my friend and music lover Joshua Fischer.
One of the main highlights of this week's show, regardless of the summer season kick-off, is some new music from the very unique and very enjoyable band Cornershop. They just released a new CD called "Urban Turban," and it features a bunch of great tunes on it (which I'll be featuring in the coming weeks) with some really talented musicians, such as the singers Celeste, and Kay Kwong. Plus, they even have a track that features students from Castle Hill Primary. The songs are desrbed as "a summer breeze with an autobahn of electronic sound," which really sums it up well. Lead musician Tinder Singh is quite amazing (and I'm not just saying this because they sent me this CD--thanks!)
Some other sunny highlights of hour two that you won't want to miss will be songs from The Jolly Boys, who play some great Jamaican Mento music; a couple of Latin-inspired cuts from Beck's CD "Guero;" and some Italian cafe music from Giorgio Conte and Maria Pierantoni Giua. Also, I'll feature a couple of tunes out of Sweden. You'll hear from the bands The Windupdeads and Bajofondo.
So, after listening to this week's show, let me know what you think. Is this show a good start to the summer season? And, in case you're wondering, why I titled it Part One, it's because in the coming weeks, I'll have a few more summer-themed shows that will help all of us enjoy the warmth and good times that this season brings.
The World Music Show aires Saturday nights at 10:00 p.m. on WCVE Public Radio - 88.9FM - or online at this website. You can also follow my updates and rantings via Twitter. Look me up: @wcveworldmusic.