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!

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