Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Help with English 12

So my sister is visiting with her kids this week, and while our boys spread Lego all over the entire house, we are catching up a bit. Being a high school literature teacher, she's always revamping her reading lists and trying new methods to get the learning into the kids. We talked about her new version of World Lit (a term that means about as much as our favorite descriptive phrase World Music) and how she wants to incorporate more art and music into the syllabus.

Which of course got me thinking about music that is culture clash, music that's on the threshhold, music of diasporas and the other topics she plans to cover. Being a music gal, rather than a lyrics gal, I would love suggestions from all of you readers of artists and songs that might fit within those ideas.

I'm thinking more about tunes where the music itself is crossing borders and genres and ages rather than lyrics about those topics set in a standard song format, but any suggestions are welcome. Say for example , if she's doing Everything is Illuminated, maybe Gogol Bordello might be an obvious choice because they were in the movie. But really, as far as the book goes, maybe Warsaw Village Band gives more of the peasant vs. technology idea. Or what about Ukrainian "Kozak Rock" band Haydamaky? They're named after peasant rebels whose struggle was immortalized in Taras Shevchenko'sHaidamaki, an epic poem about the armed struggle of the Ukrainian Cossacks and peasants against the Polish feudal gentry. Not quite the history of the village of Trachimbrod, but closer. Or maybe some Polish reggae like VavaMuffin? Cultures are aclashin' there. The more I think about it, perhaps the dark klezmer of Krakow's Kroke would better capture the deep sadness in the book.
See what I mean? There are a lot of ways one could go with this. It'll be fun to help my sis winnow through ideas and find music to match up/contrast with the books! I'll hope to post the actual book list next week, but here's her description of what she's looking for.
"It might be threshold as border, liminal space, neither-nor space, undefined otherspace, outlaw or beyond-the-pale space or it might be threshold as the linking point or hinge in fusion and hybridity. I think as a resonant metaphor it can work fruitfully in either direction."

Wait! Doesn't that describe all the music I love? Anyway, if a tune strikes you as a fit to the loose set of ideas, let me know.

Funny how the latest posting TransGlobal Underground sent out to their fans was about their new A Gathering of Strangers project covering the same territory. ( Wait. Doesn't it always, for these guys?) Mostly I was psyched to see bands like French world percussion/techno guys Recycler and Polish techno/trad Village Kollektiv on their list of collaborators along with the usual suspects from the Celtic lands and the Balkans. While I'm not always super-into TransGlobal's finished results (often a little too slick), I do admire their collaborative spirit.

Here's what Hamid Man Tu and Tim Whelan say about Gathering of Strangers.
"Out of that came the idea of searching out songs about movement, emigration and exile, and sending those songs themselves into exile, to have them apply for residence abroad, struggle with unexpected customs and accents and wander through the studios, bedrooms and DJ booths of Europe, with only a dog-eared out of date passport to confirm their original place of musical birth."
Amongst the artists appearing so far: JIM MORAY (UK), YANKA RUPKINA (Trio Bugarka, Bulgaria), BALKAN FANATIK (Hungary), THE PERUNIKA TRIO (UK/Bulgaria), MARTIN FUREY (Ireland), VALRAVN (Denmark), VILLAGE KOLLEKTIV (Poland), RECYCLER (France) with more yet to be confirmed. The project is introducing artists to each other and to old tunes along the chosen theme, and seeing what happens. Release date in mid-May...just guessing that's only in Europe.

TGI is always ready to jam with anyone from anywhere at any time.

Not unlike old Cedar pals Ale Möller and Bruce Molsky. When is that show they're doing together at our place? Coming up May 27. When you look at their names, don't you wonder if they're distantly related somehow back in the day?

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Whee! I am having great time here listening to the artists Main Fig. highlighted in his SXSW post. M. Takara right now. Thanks for all the links. WHOA! Loving the Longital!!! Eagerly anticipating the posts from our other roving reporters.

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RIP Charlie Gillette. The long-time BBC radio presenter and music writer died on St. Patrick's Day. Here's a bit from the obituary from the Guardian. "Charlie wrote the first serious history of rock'n'roll and went on to become a central figure in drawing together the confluence of international sounds that became known, to the benefit of many artists whose work might otherwise have remained in obscurity, as world music." His was a name that always seemed to pop up when I was Googling around for some obscure information about a band. Seemed like he'd already played them - last week- and made helpful program notes online. Although I guess he's quite famous for breaking Dire Straits to the world, I think of him more as the guy who turned BBC listeners on to global sounds from Tinariwen to Imam Baildi.

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When I saw the image of the Altan stamp in the March Cedar newsletter, I had to get the backstory. How often do musicians, much less living musicians make it onto a stamp?A couple of years ago An Post (that's the Irish Post office) issued four stamps each featuring a different Irish group that have been instrumental in bringing Irish music to a worldwide audience. The stamps feature The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, The Dubliners, The Chieftains, and Altan.

The Celtic tribes will gather for the Altan 25th anniversary show this coming Sunday. I'll be the one in the back, pouring Guiness. Yikes! It's been about 20 years since I first saw Altan at eh Cedar! They really do call the Cedar their "home from home." Sláinte everyone!

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