Well, it’s that time of year—the time in which I try to think of some cliche that will combine the theme of holidays with world music in order to pique your interest to unwrap this blog—there, there’s the cliche.
Not that cliche’s are that bad—it’s just they’re so easy during this time of year. Visions of “Unwrapping,” or “stockings full of…” or even, “gifts filled with…” are just a tad too easy. However, don’t let the lack or overstuffing of cliches on this week’s World Music Show (12/23) stop you from continuing. Because I may lapse into a few here and there.
With that, I’ve got a bunch of treats lined up for your in terms of a Holiday World Music Show. It’s always a fun time year for me because I like to think that, if you’re like me, you sort of get bombarded with holiday music—many of it good, but many of it, um, say I’ll say tiring. This is especially true of when I used to work retail (so, the holiday hits just kept-a-coming!). So being able to assemble a sleigh of different tunes from around the globe is a great challenge and fun to boot.
That said, I’ll start (and end) the show with a tune from the Mexican composer Esquivel. Off his “Merry Xmas from the Space-Age Bachelor Pad,” we’ll hear his personal greeting and his personal adios as only he can do. Esquivel was sort of the Spike Jones of Latin music—but not in a cheesy way. He was inventive and creative. Think swinging 60s music with lots of unique sounds.
A few people not usually associated with holiday music are Paul Simon and Kate Rusby. Now, I now want you’re thinking—Paul Simon and holiday music? Well, off his great CD “So Beautiful or So What,” we’ll hear his “Getting Ready for Christmas Day,” which not only features a sermon with call and response but, it has elements of World Beats in it—if you listen closely (ok, well, it has “Christmas” in the title and I like the song). As for Kate Rusby, she’s a British singer/songwriter who’s delved into the World Music bin a few times. And on her track “Here We Come A-Wassailing,” she takes us to the old world. “A-Wassailing,” is an old English term for caroling.
Now, if you want to dive down the chimney into some real World Holiday Music, then the songs from the Sultans of String will do it for you. This outfit are an instrumental group based in Toronto, Ontario, who combine elements of Spanish flamenco, Arabic folk, Cuban rhythms, and French Gypsy-jazz. They did a holiday album called Christmas Caravan in which they worked some pretty cool people, including a track called “Sing for Kwanza,” that features Richard Bond & Waleed Abdulhamid, and the classic “Feliz Navidad,” done by the epic voice of Cuban/Canadian Alex Cuba.
In World Music Show Holiday tradition (well, ever since I got this CD), we’ll hear a few tracks from the Portland, Oregon big band Pink Martini. Known for crafting some melodious French music, Pink Martini as actually explored all sorts of styles. Off their “Joy to the World,” we’ll hear a cover of the traditional Ukrainian classic “Shchedryk,” which is the bell carol. On this version, you’ll hear the Pacific Youth Choir along with the Bells of the Cascades. Then, we’ll hear “Ocho Kandelikas (Eight Little Candles),” with one of their regular contributors NPR’s Ari Shapiro, who has a great voice.
In the same vein as that Jewish classic song, we’ll also hear the song “Hanukia,” by Kat Parra. She takes this song about the Sephardic Jewish people and adds a sort of Afro-Caribbean vibe to it.
And speaking of other vibes, we’ll also check out some Cajun holiday songs by Brave Combo and another by Ingrid Lucia. And, we’ll also hear the Hawaiian classic “Mele Kalikimaka,” by Debbie Davis and Matt Perrine. Then, perhaps this now falls under the holiday classic category (since it’s now 30 years old), we’ll hear the Pogues “Fairytale in New York.”
Ending the Holiday World Music Show, hour one, will be a cover of “I Believe in Father Christmas” by U2 and a non-holiday tune but a good message all around. It’s “All you Need is Love,” by the world music outfit Playing for Change.
In this hour, it’s all about relaxing by the fire, or sipping a beverage or playing a game on your tablet—anything to relax.
The World Music Show airs Saturday nights from 8-10pm on 88.9 WCVE Richmond Public Radio. You can stream the show and get track listings via this website. Plus, you can join the fun on Twitter @wcveworldmusic and on Facebook at The World Music Show on WCVE.