Friday, January 30, 2009


As per the request of Mama E Dub, here is a track listing for my latest mix CD endeavor. E Dub may recognize some of the tracks; maybe you will too. Most of these are readily available. The tricky one would probably be the Markscheider Kunst. This is a Russian ska band and the packaging is all in Russian. The album is called Café Babalou but I had to ask a friend to translate the song title. 

I made this mix for my Mom after she came to see Kassin +2 at The Cedar in December. Track 16 is by the same group, but under the direction of another band member.


Noir Désir - Le Vent Nous Portera
Amadou & Mariam - Sénégal Fast Food
Balkan Beat Box - Bulgarian Chicks
Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective - Miami
Curumin - Compacto
Boban i Marko Markovic Orchesar - Igraj Devojko
Mexican Institute of Sound - El Microfono
Cidadão Instigado - O Pobre dos Dentes Duro
Pacifika - Paloma
Erasmo Carlos - Mane Joao
Shantel - Disko Partizani
Manu Chao - Me Llaman Calle
Markscheider Kunst - Fish
The Pinkertones - Electrotumbao
Selim Sesler - Kasap Havasi
Moreno +2 - Arrivederci
Toumast - Ikalane Walegh
Nomo - Three Shades

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Surf 'n''s a grower

Derivative, by-the-number, cookie cutter music makes me crazy! If I can tell what the next note is going to be without ever having hear a song before, well, how interesting is that? I understand that in some genres, there is a form to be followed, and improvised within, like in bluegrass or 12 bar blues. I get that.

But what does it take to really stand up to repeated listening, gradually revealing more nuances and joys? Why does cotton candy pop sound great the very first time you hear it, but becomes trite and annoyingly stuck in your head really fast? What makes a tune pass by unnoticed time and time again, then suddenly gleam as brightly as gold flakes in a pan of dross? Why are some songs "growers" as Jack Black's Barry character desperately described that album they can never sell in the movie version of High Fidelity. You know what he means; it grows on you, you might not like it at first, but you will after repeated listenings, then you cannot live without it.

With such thoughts in mind, I turned to the "top 25 played" playlist on my iTunes. I don't look at this much but had a guess about what I would find there - stuff that works well in playlists; both the playlists I make for myself and those I create for friends and for special occasions, trying to juxtaposition well and make each song gleam brightly in an unfamiliar setting. Or as Rob says in High Fidelity again "The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules."

One of only a handful of tunes riding high in the top 25 with very little playlist support is Boom Pam's "Dalida," pretty much my top Balkan-tuba-surf-guitar track ever. When those crisscrossing guitar lines intersect, it's like surf vs. Turkish...AYE! When I heard them play that at the Cedar a few summers back, it was a completely blissful moment of having my head musically blown off, incredibly humid room and sweaty two-year-old on my hip notwithstanding.

So when I read somewhere a few weeks ago that they had released a new cd, I had to rush out and buy. Amazingly, the actual physical disc was available locally. Thank you, Shantel! (He runs Essay Records in Germany, who has put out both of Boom Pam's recordings here. Not to mention that he's the guy behind Bucovina Club and Disko Partizani...big BIG thanks, Mr. Hantel!)

Before I tell you all the fun things about the Boom Pam disc, Puerto Rican Nights, a little background is in order to answer the all important questions like, "Why surf in Tel Aviv? Why now? Who is this Boom Pam?"

When the self titled debut came out here a couple of years ago, it made #1 on the Spin the Globe charts. They explained it thus.
Remember that Israel is a nation of immigrants, and it's got lots of nice waterfront. As
much as anything, those two factors explain Boom Pam's pairing of duo surf guitars with tight tuba basslines. Crazy Balkan time signatures and minimalist
percussion make their self-titled album irresistable to the musically curious, whether your usual fare is rock or world music.
The All Music Guide's Ned Raggett
explained the Dick Dale connection.
As the story goes, Dick Dale helped invent surf music by borrowing from traditional Middle Eastern melodies thanks to his Lebanese dad. Boom Pam, located down the coast in Tel Aviv, help bring it all back around, showing themselves to be one of those spirited "try anything once" groups in the vein of such legends as Mano Negra and Babasónicos. But groups like Croatia's Bambi Molesters would be a closer comparison, combining their love of surf with Eastern European as well as Mediterranean styles and creating a unique new stew. The killer ace in the hole for Boom Pam is a slightly unexpected instrument -- tuba, which can get a bad rap in the States for its ungainly size and association with bad high-school marching bands. But Yuval "Tuby" Zolotov rocks on that thing, providing the hyperspeed basslines that drummer Dudu Kohav matches, on top of which guitarist/singers Uzi Feinerman and Uri Brauner Kinrot go to town. Some moments are so great that to describe them removes the charm, but hearing things like the crystalline guitar breaks on "Souvlaki #3" and the brawling tuba kick on "Dalida" is just wondrous.
[What did I just say about "Dalida?!" RIGHT!]

OK, now I know there are tuba haters out there. I understand that it's right down there with accordions, bagpipes and banjos in some people's minds. (Who are these people and what's with them?!) You have never seen (or heard) tuba playing like Tuby does. NO. Really. High high notes. LOW Low notes. Amazing melody lines. Crazy-fast runs. For those of you who are fans of a certain band from Colorado that sports a girl tuba player...people, she just splats out some low end. Tuby rules that 18 feet of metal tubing.I loved this piece in the Jerusalem Times.
"Boom Pam's Middle Eastern influences are beyond apparent, between the instrumentation, kitschy loungestyle dress and the overall feel that you could be listening to something produced in 1980s Turkey or watching something from the same era straight out of Czechoslovakia.

The group takes its name from a song it covered - "Boom Pam", a Greek hit here performed by Greek immigrant to Israel Aris San. San, in his collaboration with Berry Sakharov, became the first musician to add the electric guitar to Greek folk music.

Here's a fun review of one of their Tel Aviv shows from 2006.

Were any of you at Balkan Beat Box's first show at the Cedar in September 2007? Remember the guy with the baby blue Stratocaster jamming between the sax players, eyes closed and sweat dripping? That, my friends, was our introduction to Mr. Uri Brauner Kinrot, who handles more of the Turkish/Middle Eastern sounding guitar lines in Boom Pam. (If memory serves, he was doing that great line from "Adir Adirim"....I had a sample of that on my voice mail for several years, people.) The traditional surf sound is more covered by Uzi Feinerman with his sweet vintage hollow body. When those two sounds emerge from their Fender tube amps and intersect...well, I already said it blew my head off, didn't I?I really like what they've done on Puerto Rican Nights, which is basically a collection of some of their favorite tunes to cover in their live set. We get to hear Tuby nail some Dick Dale on "The Wedge", Balkan Beat Box singer Tomer Yosef lay down some Hebrew rap on "Ani Rotse Lazuz" and Dror Ahava Rohem sigh like Prince on "Marilyn Jones." There's a little spaghetti western going on in "Shayeret Harohvim" and some almost glam-ish guitar wanking in "Krai Dunavsko." The Boom Pam theme is here as they update the Aris San hit, and Italo Gonzales adds soulful vocals on "Aye Carmela." The songs are from a variety of cultural traditions, but they are all Boom Pam-ized into a coherent whole. Mostly, it just makes me hope they tour the U.S. again soon. What with Uri Kinrot playing guitar all over the new Kocani Orkestar disc, I sure hope they're not too busy.

Here are a couple of other reviews, one from, which says "Puerto Rican Nights is hardly a typical covers album. Not only are the songs themselves far from usual fare, but the band's exuberant interpretations makes for an original and unexpectedly enjoyable experience." This review has links to some song samples. likes the disc a lot, too. "A great and joyous professional phenomenon has been building here for a long time and is now at its peak after a short break and an industrial silence, that only warmed up the volcano and increased a sense of yearning. Boompamania (!!!) is back with a second album made entirely of cover versions of the beloved tunes they've been playing in their shows throughout the years..." They give some nice histories of the origins of many of the tunes. Who knew some of the instrumentals were from old cassettes of Uri's parents? "Marilyn Jones" is from a Hassidic comedy, and Aye Carmela is from the soundtrack of the Israeli film "Comrade." The Tomer Yosef vocals translate as "I Want to Move." If you've ever seen this guy live, you know he does!

Can't leave you without some video, right? Let's get this nice live version of "Dalida" a few more hits, shall we? I like the way the color turns on, Wizard of Oz-like, when the surf guitar starts in.

And perhaps I will just put a link to, rather than imbed, the famous Reefer Madness-esque video for "Hashish, Drug of a Nation," to their tune "Hashish."
* * * * * * *

Until any of the acts mentioned above make their way back to our town, you can get your surf needs met monthly at the Hexagon Bar in south Minneapolis. Locals Big Surf host the first Saturday of every month, and there are generally a couple of other bands as well as some dj-ing. My insider source (DJ Blanche from KFAI's Fubar Omniverse) says February's Surf Night isSaturday, Feb 7 . Featured bands are Big Surf / Al's Rockabilly Quartet / The Awkwards with music before and between sets by DJ Rock the Monkey.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New Music for a Cold Winter

Hey there. Just returned from the Curumin show and it was just what we needed on a cold night. There is something about the Samba grooves that really make people feel good. Lots of smiling faces in the Cedar tonight.

My post is a short one this week and I thought I'd spread the word on a new artist I recently discovered. His name is Volker Bertelmann, a German pianist and composer, but he performs and records under the alias of 'Hauschka.' Volker has been working with prepared piano on his last few records, an art form onto itself. Artists from John Cage to Tin Hat Trio have used prepared piano to great effect. One method to 'prepare' a piano is to place paper clips or thumbtacks on the strings or hammers to create wonderful percussive sounds. There are of course endless possibilities when it comes to 'preparing' an instrument. More on this in a later post.

For now, enjoy the Hauschka track that sold me - Freibad.

For those that like visuals, here is Hauschka live at Cube Microplex in Bristol, Sept. 2007.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Frigid Today, Cool & Tropical Tuesday

As we struggle to get above the zero degree mark today, look forward to this Tuesday for what could well be one of the coolest shows from a warmer climate at The Cedar in all of 2009. His name is Curumin, and my personal "Three Country Rule" applies here. What's my "TCR" you ask? If it's music from Mali, Brazil or Sweden, it's almost always going to be great.

Curumin's heritage is actually half Brazilian and half Japanese, and you'll hear and see lots of great references to Japanese pop culture on his new CD on Quannum, Japan Pop Show. This is another of those next generation world music things we've been talking about much on this blog... lots of influences and not many boundaries. In Brazil they call this "samba funk."

We'll have lots of room for dancing at this one, and based on what folks who saw him in NYC a few months back at Red Hot + Rio 2, this promises to be a most memorable show. His performance there stood out among the likes of CéU, Bebel Gilberto, and José González. That's pretty damn impressive.

Some great press in The New York Daily News, and a nice "A List" in our own City Pages. And here's a video:

See you there?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Cedar Story Part 5

Some of you may not know that The Cedar Cultural Center has not always gone by this name. There was once a time where music fans instead congregated at The Cedar Cultural Centre. I know it’s a little hard to believe. No one likes to talk about it much, but for anyone who is curious, this is the inside scoop. There are still a few remaining artifacts that betray the classic spelling. Next time you attend a show, impress your friends or your date by pointing out the sign on the newsletter rack. They will be dazzled by your insider knowledge.

“It wasn’t an easy choice,” said Mark Johnson. “The staff was divided into two camps and at the height of it most of us weren’t even speaking to each other anymore. The 'RE' camp even had t-shirts made. “There’s no 'ER' in PROGRESS.” I’m not saying I came up with the idea, but those shirts were pretty clever.”

In 2001, still excited by the new millennium, a few members of the staff decided The Cedar needed an update worthy of a new century. They contended that Centre had pretentious connotations just like “Theatre,” “Ye Olde,” and “Shoppe.” They pointed to the newly renamed and wildly successful Yo! The Old Theater Shop, which languished when known as “Ye Olde Theatre Shoppe.” The Cedar would not undergo such a drastic re-name, but the letters were flipped and no one has looked back since.

Visit to share your spelling preference.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

One Dark and Snowy Night at the Cedar

Well, I'm sitting at home with two sprained knees, a condition, which, one would think, would lead to a tremendous outpouring of bloggery. Alas, however, sitting at the computer is not nearly as comfortable as being on the couch with ice packs on my propped-up legs. So this may be a little on the short and sweet side. We'll see.

When the Angel of Rock wrote about her "music for sub zero weather" a couple of posts back, it put me in mind of a strange, but really fun, night at the Cedar last winter. One of those freaky late season snowstorms was in the process of dumping about a foot of heavy wet slop on us. I kept checking the website to see if the show had been cancelled, then finally called the Cedar to see what was up. Mark said the headliners, Uncle Earl, had come into town the day before and were staying with friends, but that the opening act was stranded in Iowa as I-35 was closed. The show was on! I slipped and slid over to the Cedar and the bluegrass gals in Uncle Earl were really taking it in stride. I'm assuming most of them are from somewhere SOUTH of here, y'know. They agreed to play an extra set of tunes to make up for the lack of an opener, turned in a fine sound check and chilled out with their plates of curry.

It was snowing like crazy; one of those nights when people get home from work and do. not. leave. again. Advance tickets had been sold, but would anybody come out on a night like this? I was thinking it would be amazingly quiet.

Know what? It turned into a really fun night! About 50 people straggled in, stomping snow off their boots and knocking it off their hats. Something about the weather induced a good natured spirit of anarchy in the Cedar so the crowd just yelled back at me and wolf whistled when I announced the band would come on a little late because they were making themselves "extra pretty." A band member who shall remain nameless due to my hostess' descretion wondered where she could buy a bottle of whiskey. I got to use the phrase "snow thunder" in my introduction, because of course, I had to make weather jokes. The crowd whooped and hollered and yelled things at the band, who hollered right back at them. Lots of laughter, lots of good jokes, and yeah, two set of fine bluegrass and sweet harmonies.

Only in Minnesota? Probably. Only at the Cedar? For sure.

I'm not sure who else besides the Uncle Earl gals would make a video of an old time tune featuring rollerskating waiters in a Chinese restaurant, a dance off between a team of Irish step dancers and some tough looking space-sluts, and bad dubbing, with some Kung Fu thrown in. The band jams away while throwing worried looks at the scuffle, then gets up and teaches everybody to clog. That really is John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin playing piano; he produced their last album. The in-joke here is that "Streak o' Lean, Streak o' Fat" is a pretty good English translation for the name of Chairman Mao's favorite dish, and banjo player Abigail Washburn is fluent in Chinese, and is yelling things about Mao's eating habits during the tune. So it kinda makes sense. Kinda.

* * * * *

Speaking of cold, and weather...what was up with all those fools on the podium yesterday in the 20-something degree weather with no hats on their heads? Aretha had a fine hat on, but could any of the leaders of our country muster up enough common sense instead of style sense and don a lid? NO they could not, I guess.

Definitely NOT in Minnesota.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

APAP Part Three: GlobalFEST

GlobalFEST is a world music showcase coordinated with the APAP conference to provide attending presenters with an opportunity to see a large number of international performers in one place. This was its sixth year, and for the second straight this year it was held at Webster Hall, which formerly housed The Ritz nightclub, and offers three stages under one roof.

Twelve artists were featured at this year's GlobalFEST, and the whole thing was webstreamed by WNYC Radio, and all of the performances can still be heard at that link. The show ran from 7:00 pm until just after midnight, and I caught at least a bit of all of them. Here were my highlights:

I was pleasantly surprised with Hot 8 Brass Band from New Orleans. You've heard it before, right? A New Orleans brass band. But these guys really brought it. And as former Cedar director Bill Kubeckzko said, their take on St. James Infirmary was "to die for!" Here's a good YouTube clip of these guys:

Another pleasant surprise was the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International from Chicago via Ghana! Often the immigrant bands are a mere shadow of the real thing, but not these guys. Here they are live from KEXP studios:

These two bands provided a strong start to the evening. Things got a bit less exciting after that, although still quite interesting. The evening's two most unusual performers followed... Iranian multi-instrumentalist and dancer Saeid Shanbehzadeh and his son performed the traditional music of Bushehr (Southern Iran) which included a Persian bagpipe (!)

How old is that kid!?

Then the Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq followed. Out there, even for a throat singer. I could only take about 10 minutes of it, to be honest!

I enjoyed the set by Brazilian samba funkers Marcio Local after that... maybe a bit understated but I'm kind of a sucker for that Brazilian sound.

But I think the blow-out band of the evening was Watcha Clan. This French world-electronica quartet brought a shot of the most exciting thing happening in world music right now: the genre-bending, immigrant-driven melting pot that they call "diaspora hi-fi." Enough energy to power Manhattan! Now a high priority for September's Global Roots Festival at The Cedar...

That's it for my APAP posts. I did see more showcases the following night, but after this evening, nothing was particularly noteworthy. All those days of meetings and nights of showcases caught up with me, though... by the end of the week I was down with the worst head cold I've had in years!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

APAP Part Two

The conference started in earnest on Friday (1/9), so after my initial meetings I set out, armed with my Metrocard, with an ambitious showcase plan. My first stop was back at Le Poisson Rouge for a set by jazz violinist Jenny Scheinman, and it was striking to me how similar her music was to some of the obscure British progressive rock I was listening to in the 70's.

Then a quick jaunt to Brooklyn to check out a happening little club in Park Slope called Barbès. This is the club where Slavic Soul Party plays every Tuesday night, just to give you some sense of the high hipness factor. I couldn't stay long (that jaunt to Park Slope takes some time!) but I did catch a bit of The Mande Ambassadors, who have a throwback sound to 60's "Manding" music from Guinea.

Then it was back to Le Poisson Rouge where I bits of sets by new-world singer Morley and a middle eastern peace project called Sulha Peace Project which, musically, just wasn't working for me. No problem, just back on the train to the 92nd Street 'Y' for what became one of the highlights of the conference for me, Karsh Kale. He's a tabla player and producer, and the band he had with him this time included an incredible Indian singer, a beat box-er, and electric guitarist. Karsh mixes traditional Indian sounds with electronics and beats. Very cool. Afterward, Slavic Soul Party closed the night.

On Saturday night I spent the evening at The Mercury Lounge for a showcase from Red Ryder Entertainment's roster, including Daniel Martin Moore, our own Haley Bonar, A Hawk and a Hacksaw, and up & coming beard folk-rockers Great Lake Swimmers. We're hoping to get these guys to The Cedar in April:

By the time these guys came on, the place was packed, largely due to a high-praise spotlight in Time Out New York.

Next post: GlobalFEST at APAP.

Friday, January 16, 2009

music for sub zero weather

While most everything is miserable when your eye lashes and the inside of your nose are frozen, this weather serves as a good excuse to stay indoors and listen to music.

The past few years I've ended up at The Cedar on some of the coldest nights of the year. It has become somewhat of a tradition now and I've even started seeing some of the same performers. Maybe they enjoy playing on frozen nights, but I prefer to think that there is a more cosmic reason behind it.  

One of these artists is Eliza Blue. I first saw her perform on one of the coldest nights I can remember. She was playing with husband and wife duo Roma di Luna (who put on an amazing holiday show at The Cedar in december) at the 400 Bar here on the West Bank. The group was warming up (pun intended) the crowd before another local group, The Pines, went on. 

It was a sparse crowd that night, but it turned out to be a show that stuck with me. When I saw that miss Blue was on the roster for Jim Walsh's Hootenanny tomorrow night, I decided to stick with tradition. 

Music for cold weather, any thoughts?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

APAP Part One

Last week, Thursday night through Monday, I spent at the 2009 APAP Conference in NYC. This is where many thousands of arts presenters converge to explore prospective bookings, conference about issues, and generally schmooze with agents, artists, and associates.

Having been to many music industry conferences over the years, I can say that APAP is one of the most intense, especially for someone who is looking to book world music. For example, the publicist (and all-around nice guy) Dmitri Vietze of Rock, Paper, Scissors embarks on the Herculean task each year of compiling a spreadsheet with all of the scheduled world music showcases happening around APAP each year, and this year there are over 200 listings!

But it's not just about world music (in fact, it's not even just about music itself... there is as many dance and theater showcases happening here as music). Jazz, folk, rock... just about everything is here. This is largely directed at the bigger budget arts presenters (universities, festivals and arts centers, for example), so the focus tends to be on those genres which play well with them. In other words, not many death metal showcases... but then again, this is New York City, and if you want to see some death metal on any given night, chances are good you can find some.

The biggest challenge at APAP is the choosing of what to see. Most of the booking agents have showcases both at the main hotel (midtown Hilton) and at various locations around the city, and every one of them pushes hard for you to come to their showcases. Then there is the tendency to just go to things that you already know and love... which can be great fun, but generally defeats the ambition of discovery.

I started my APAP exploring shortly after arriving on Thursday night, heading down to a relatively new NY club called Le Poisson Rouge to see a double-bill of singer/songwriters. The opener, Gabriel Kahane who has worked with Sufjan Stevens, My Brightest Diamond, and Rufus Wainwright. He premiered a song cycle based on the poems of Robert Lowell and had some moments of musical brilliance. But overall it was weighed down by the problem that so many arrangements of poetry to music seem to suffer from, especially good poetry, which tends to spark different emotional responses from different people, and is inevitably often in conflict with the emotional personality the composer happened to feel for the arrangement of that poem.

The headliner was a recent Nonesuch Records signing, Christina Courtin. Spectacular voice, but uneven material, and somewhat affected stage mannerisms kept this from completely winning me over. But she is a talent worth monitoring:

After that I walked a few blocks over to the historic Blue Note jazz club to catch an incredible set by three amazing musicians: Bill Frisell, Ron Carter and Paul Motian. Their rendition of "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" sent me straight to heaven...

More later.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cheerleading, big snakes, and tubas

Not to come off all cheerleader on you, but I'm looking inward a bit for this week's post, as in looking home right at the Cedar, rather than all over the world at bands I love and acts I want to help bring to these shores. And, people, it looks so good!

First a big thanks to all you blog reader who have checked out enough times that as of this week, one no longer gets that message "Did you mean cedar" when you Google us. Ya-hoo. OK, they are a wetlands and fen complex in Ohio and they have spotted turtles and Massasaugua snakes and skunk cabbage and slime mold, but we got...well, we post a lot more often, that's for sure. Yeah!

* * * * * * *

The mushy part comes in like so. I was cleaning up some papers last night and went to toss the Cedar annual report that came last month. I had read through it and was feeling pretty good about how we are doing, considering the economy and all. The booklet fell open to the pages in the back where it was listing all the donors and a couple of names jumped out at me. Names like Bruce Molskey. Arto Jarvela. Alan Sparhawk. Einer-Olav Larsen. Musicians who have played at the Cedar numerous times over the years who felt like they wanted to give something more back to this international - and local - community. And I got a little choked up. I really did. Dang. Thanks, you guys.

* * * * * * *

So then this afternoon, I thought, I'll write about one of the upcoming shows, so I went to the and started reading the calendar. Double-dang. February and March are SO happening at the Cedar, I can't wait!!

Brazilian Mash-up? Check, Curumin Jan. 27.

Senegalese Hip Hop? Check, Gokh- Bi System, February 19.

South Minneapolis' own 10+ piece brass orkestar? Check, the Brass Messengers, February 13.

Lonesome County Claire fiddling opening for a 6 piece County Sligo powerhouse? Check , Martin Hayes and Denis Cahill with Dervish, March 1.

The sweetest voice ever to come out of Ballyduff Lower? Check, Karan Casey, March 15.

Staff and audience favorite Piedmont string band revivalists? You KNOW it! Two nights of the Carolina Chocolate Drops March 28 and 29.

I would have to say the Chocolate Drops rank up there with Balkan Beat Box as favorites of the current Cedar staff and there was something very cool about the eerily similar way they intro'd some past shows for us. The first time BBB played the Cedar, in September 2007, they marched through the crowd up to the stage playing their horns to the raucous beat of several snare drummers. When the Chocolate Drops opened their Monday night show here last spring, they marched up to the stage in a little snare-led parade, too. Was I the only who had a little deja vu moment then?

The crowd that night contained hundred of high school kids attending through Project Success. Remember how they all lost it when, in the process of demonstrating how music changes through different times and different regions, the Chocolate Drops covered Blu Cantrell's Hit'em Up Style? It was funky. It was hip hop-y. It was old time! There are literally dozens of You Tubes of them playing that tune, (not to mention 73,000 Google hits!) so our crowd was not the only one last year who thought that was just too much fun.

This version, from the Alaska Folk Festival , has pretty decent sound and video quality.

* * * * * * *

Listening this week has moved a little south of Poland, like to Tel Aviv, Macedonia and Turkey. Bringing some tubas into the living room. Got the new Boom Pam disc, Puerto Rican Nights, which I plan to review here once I listen a little more. It's sharing time with the most recent Kocani Orkestar release, The Ravished Bride and with a trippy collection of 1970's singles from Turkish psychedelia guy Ersen. (OK, he doesn't have a tuba, but wow, the guy in the photo here sure does!!)

You know, however, if anybody wants to check out samples of the Warsaw Village tracks I mentioned the last couple weeks, they are there at the ITunes store.

Hmmm...wonder what price category "world music" like this is going to be there come April?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Through Silence We Achieve Bliss...or Rather Wolf.

The Professor in our previous post refers to Bon Iver's songs requiring the full attention of the listener and his hunch that Cedar patrons are one of the audiences that 'gets it.' I couldn't agree more with Prof on this and encourage seeing Justin and crew live. It is remarkable how they can turn a loud room silent upon singing the first note.
This is a wonderful opportunity to let you know about other another Cedar show where your undivided attention will only enhance the experience.

January 24th we welcome local songwriter Aby Wolf to the Cedar. It isn't the beautiful timbre of her voice that gets me but her use of harmony, layering and an oddly wonderful sense of melody. I have seen her a few times in other local venues and the subtleties were lost in the clanking of bottles, and the mindless chatter of the drunks. Isn't that what makes the Cedar such an incredible venue?! It can get so quiet in the room that I can hear someone texting on their cellphone! By the way, unless it's an emergency, there really isn't any reason you should be texting during a concert unless it's to tell a friend to get down to the show and not miss out! That's three exclamations in a
Anyway, Aby Wolf. Take a look from a solo rendition of 'Focus' recorded at Pachyderm Studios, from Aby's 'Sweet Prudence' record which sees it's proper release on the 24th.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Addendum to 'reviewing the reviewers'

In addition to the discussion about whether to allow sharing of iTunes files, I just read that they are going to start having tiered prices. The numbers I saw said there will be three different prices: $0.69, $0.99 and $1.29. The record company would determine the song’s price.

My first reaction: “How can you determine one song is worth more than another?”

But then, CDs range in price. What makes one CD worth more than another? Award winning album artwork, er, 'Recording Package'? Doubtful. Although that would be one justification I could get behind. A major label release is probably going to be priced differently than an artist’s self released work, but should it be? Something to think about.

Along similar lines (but not really): CDs have been around for quite a while and as far as I can tell, the CD case is an unfinished project. I have yet to see one that is practical, attractive and not prone to break. We can travel into space, but not make a decent CD case. Seems a little fishy.

But since CDs are soon to be lining shelves at antique shops (right? Isn’t that what everyone keeps saying?), I suppose we’ve got different priorities for the time being.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Reviewing the reviewers

We've talked podcasts and "best of" lists, but week in and week out, where do you go to find out what's new in the global roots scene? Here are a few ideas. Some of these I've mentioned in prior posts, but here they are all in one place, in no particular order. This one is also an audience participation post (well, they all are, but really, comment and share the sites you like, OK?)

Global Rhythm
It's a print magazine, and it's a website with more interviews, reviews, a podcast, the OurStage listening feature that is updated every couple of weeks...lots to do here. They pick and review their top ten new releases every month, and have an archive of older reviews sorted by region/style.

As in FOLK Roots, so there is plenty of folkie, and old time and Celtic reviewed in here with the world stuff, so you may have to occasionally put forth the question, "Yeah, but does it ROCK?!". They are sent hundred of discs each month and pick a handful to review. They tend to really like the African stuff. You have to subscribe to read the whole thing, but there is plenty to look at for free.

Not so much reviews as an online cd shop with descriptions. Goes much deeper into genres such as Nordic and Middle Eastern than about anybody else. Often there are sound samples to check out, but not always. Yes, they are connected in some way to the mag RootsWorld, and some of the reviews/descriptions appear in both places.

Calabash music is another site that exists to sell downloads, but they put together playlists with various themes to which you can give a listen. They also have free downloads available every week. The call themselves a fair trade download site, so it seems like the artist get a bigger share of the money than with say, ITunes. Calabash is not about being right up to the minute. They won't have the hottest sounds that came out yesterday, but they do have a back catalog of stuff from all over the place.

I've written before about the European World Music charts, in which a panel of djs picks their top 20 for the month. You can click on each selection for a brief description, sound samples and links to record company sites. I signed up for the email newsletter so I get the updated list like clockwork on the first of every month.

So, there is a little selection of some of the sites that sample a broader range of music and include some world music. I certainly don't feel like I have found a site or reviewers yet with whom I really resonate and have that "OMG I have to go out and buy all these discs today!" sort of feeling, but read a review here, follow a link there and you can end up at some pretty cool places.

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Traipsing across Europe (Germany to Poland to France via email) I have tracked down the makers of the amazing "Yezza remix" of the Warsaw Village track "Grey Horse" that I was raving about last week. I like it even better this week; it just slays me every time that cello comes creeping back in under the industrial beats! [It's right up there as most played with "Circle No. 1," the "Slavic Raga" mentioned in last week's review of Infinity. So beautiful it hurts!]

The boys behind the beats are the Paris-based industrial-ish techno-guys in Recycler. Their Myspace seems to be a troublemaker ...not uploading right, but here is one of their other sites, with some sample tracks. [We just switched our internet provider and nothing is coming in as fast today. I am grumpy about it, too.] Here is a live video medley , too.

So cool, they wrote me right back and told me about what they do, why they named the remix that, where to download or listen to their remixes and how they would like to tour the U.S.
so we are a french live band from paris.this remix we ve done is called "yezza
remix" but sadly it means nothing! we ve seen that somewhere, had an arabic
sounding and was sounding great! no one could explain us it's meaning....hope you
are not too disappointed!

Thanks also to Miroslaw 'Maken' Dzieciolowski, the producer of Upmixing, for passing on their info!

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One last thought. What do you say about the news from the Macworld Expo that ITunes is taking the protection coding of their downloads so you can copy the files, play them on other computers, etc. I read in the the New York Times today that for a one time fee, they will take that coding off all your old downloads, too. Like 30 cents a song. Pretty sleazy since we've already PAID FOR the file once, huh? (Apologies if the NYTimes link doesn't stay up for long. You know how they are.)

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Years resolutions

Because it is a new year, I have a confession to make. This is hard for me to say. I know that some of you will instantly discredit me after this, but, I like pop music. A lot. 

So, my music resolution for 2009 is to come to terms with my admiration for harmonies and catchy tunes, and to be less judgmental of others' music tastes. Because seriously, how can I judge anyone when the truth is I really love this song.

Happy New Year everybloggy.