Friday, July 31, 2015

Pioneer: Orlando Julius and The Heliocentrics with "Buje Buje"

Today's random song comes from artist Orlando Julius of Nigeria. Julius is known as an innovator and a crucial personage in the development of modern afro-pop. In the 1960s, he was fusing traditional Nigerian music with American R&B, pop and soul. In the United States, he collaborated with such artists as Lamont Dozier, the Crusaders and Hugh Masekela. His 1966 breakout album, Super Afro Soul, was ahead of its time and possibly influenced the development of funk that was about to sweep over the United States. It also made him a superstar in his native Nigeria where he released a long string of records. However, he was relatively unknown internationally until the re-release of Super Afro Soul in 2000. In 2014 the Heliocentrics, a London-based collective that fuses funk, jazz and hip hop, brought Julius to their studio and backed him on his latest album that consisted of vintage, never before heard tunes and new compositions. This funk/R&B song, Buje Buje, is from that 2014 release entitled Jaiyede Afro.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Utter Nonsense: Deolinda and "Sem Noção"

Today's song brings us to Portugal with the song Sem Noção. Deolinda formed in 2006 when the brothers Pedro da Silva Martins and Luis José Martins asked their cousin Ana Bacalhau to sing on a few songs they had written. Realizing that her voice fit perfectly with their songs, they began Deolinda and rounded out the band with her husband José Pedro Leitã. Their first album, Canção Ao Lado (2008), reached number 3 on the Portuguese charts, and their followup album, Dois Selos e um Carimbo (2010), hit number 1. During this period, the band performed a song called Parva que Sous at their concerts which was a social criticism of Portugal and the lack of opportunities for young people. Most of Europe was going through a financial crisis, and youth unemployment was enormous, especially in poorer EU countries. The song became an anthem among economically affected youth in Portugal and went viral on social media, with bootleg copies of concert performances shared in great numbers. Deolinda released their third album, Mundo Pequenino, in 2013.

The band's style is inspired by fado, but they have made numerous departures from the form. While traditional fado utilizes Portuguese guitar, the band does not. Deolinda's songs are often contain social criticism, and can be lively, upbeat, ironic and humorous which does not fit the usual melancholy style of fado either. Fado performers often dress in black when performing, but Deolinda does not follow this tradition either. Their music has thus been described as "neofado." Sem Noção (the title translates as "nonsense"), is from their 2010 release Dois Selos e um Carimbo.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Welsh Tincture: 9bach and "Bwthyn Fy Nain"

Our random song of the day, Bwthyn Fy Nain, takes us to Wales. Performed by the group 9bach (the name of the band is a play on numbers and the Welsh word "nain" which means grandmother in the North of Wales, and "bach" which means little and is a term of endearment. The band was formed in 2005 by Lisa Jen and Martin Hoyland and uses Welsh folk in the arrangement and lyrics of the songs and then approaches the instrumentation with a modern dance sensibility. Their strong roots at home and their frequent international travels have also affected the sensibility of their music. The original version of Bwthyn Fy Nain can be found on their 2009 debut album 9Bach. This version was remixed by the band for their EP Tinc (2014), and the video was recorded by their label Real World Productions.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Funkee Time: The Funkees and "Dance with Me"

Awwwww yeee-aaaah! Get your booty up and get down to this afro-rock from the mid-70s by The Funkees. The Funkees were formed in Nigeria in the 1960s following the Nigerian civil war, and immediately established themselves as a band delivering funky, upbeat and danceable tunes sung in English and their native Igbo language. They moved to London in 1973 and gained prominence in the West African and West Indian music scene before breaking up in 1977. Dance with Me can be found on their 1976 album Now I'm a Man and the retrospective compilation album Dancing Time: The Best of Eastern Nigeria's Afro Rock Exponents 1973-77 released in 2012.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Waltzing Across Texas: Los Texmaniacs and "Salvador"

We go to old time Tejano folk music for our random tune today. Los Texmaniacs were created in 1997 by Max Baca to play traditional conjunto and tejano music but also incorporate rock and jazz while honoring the old traditions. Baca was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and followed his grandfather and father in learning the accordion beginning at age 5. He was invited by one of his idols, the great Flaco Jiménez, to play in Jiménez' band in San Antonio where he learned to play the bajo sexto (bass) using all six sets of strings in the traditional style. In forming Los Texmaniacs, Baca wanted to keep alive the style of another groundbreaking band, the Texas Tornados. This waltz, Salvador, can be found on their 2012 release Texas Towns and Tex-Mex Sounds. According to the band, waltzes have become the unwanted stepchild of Tex-Mex music after centuries of being THE dance and music style. Now cumbia and other forms of music are more common, making this waltz a real throwback.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

For My Peeps: Modena City Ramblers and "La Mia Gente"

Back to Italy for today's random tune by the Modena City Ramblers. Started as a hobby in 1991 by a group of friends that wanted to play Irish music together, the Modena City Ramblers (or MCR) is an Italian folk band heavily influenced by Celtic themes and is often classified as folk rock. A band with an open lineup, they have had several people leave and return sporadically. They are outspoken in their left wing politics, and their lyrics often speak out against the Mafia and fascism. They have released 14 albums and 5 EPs. This song, La Mia Gente, is from their second album, 1996's La Grande Famiglia.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Shipping Out: The Klezmatics and "Going Away to Sea"

How about some klezmer to the lyrics of an American folk icon for your day? Going Away to Sea is a song by The Klezmatics, written to match lyrics penned by Woody Guthrie but never set to music. Based in New York City and formed in 1986, The Klezmatics are a Grammy award winning group that mixes older Yiddish tunes with contemporary styles of music. They have also recorded songs in Aramaic and Bavarian. Going Away to Sea is from their album of Woody Guthrie lyrics with original music titled Wonder Wheel (2006).

Friday, July 24, 2015

A Big Wet One: Gaelic Storm and "Kiss Me, I'm Irish"

A repeater song for today by Gaelic Storm, an American Irish band formed in 1997 in Santa Monica, California. They play traditional Irish and Scottish music, as well as original music in the Celtic and Celtic rock genres. Gaelic Storm got a huge break in 1997 when they were cast as the steerage band in the blockbuster movie Titanic. They have burnished their resume by touring aggressively and adding new instrumentation to their ensemble, such as Uileann, Highland and Deger (electronic) bagpipes. This song, Kiss Me, I'm Irish, can be found on their 2006 album Bring Your Wellies.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Where the Heart Is: Fiamma Fumana and "La Mondina"

Italy is on our destination list today for the random tune. La Mondina is by Fiamma Fumana, an Italian world music band that mixes traditional Italian tunes with electronica. To date, they have released four albums. La Mondina is from their 2003 album Home.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Peace: Rahim Alhaj and Amjad Ali Khan with "Release of the Dove"

Today's random tune, Release of the Dove, is by Rahim Alhaj and Amjad Ali Khan. Rahim Alhaj is an Iraqi-American oud player and composer living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He began playing the oud at age nine and soon revealed a great talent for the instrument. A political activist against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, he was forced into political exile, first in Syria and Jordan and finally in the United States. He combines traditional Iraqi maqams with contemporary stylings and influences. Amjad Ali Khan is an Indian classical musician who plays the sarod, an instrument that his family claims to have invented - he is the sixth generation of his family to be a musician. He is a recipient of India's second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan. Release of the Dove can be found on their 2009 collaboration Ancient Sounds.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Romani Around: Cüneyt Sepetçi and Orchestra Dolapdere with "Gogocular"

I accidentally published tomorrow's song today. So here's the correction. We go to Turkey today for our random tune of the day. Cüneyt Sepetçi and Orchestra Dolapdere hail from the Dolapdere neighborhood near the center of Istanbul, a neighborhood populated mostly by Roma families and full of musicians who provide music for weddings, circumcisions, parades and parties. Sepetçi is a clarinet virtuoso and he and his orchestra provide a modern take on Turkish Roma classics, as well as songs from Albania, Macedonia, Spain and other areas. Albuquerque's own A Hawk and a Hacksaw met Sepetçi in 2012, and got him into a studio to cut his first album. This song, Gogoucular, is from the 2013 CD Bahriye Çiftetellisi.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Something to Fight For: Yothu Yindi and "Freedom"

Today's song is an homage to freedom by Australian group Yothu Yindi. Yothu Yindi is made up of aboriginal and non-aboriginal members formed in 1986. Their name means "child and mother" in Yolngu, the language of the Yolngu tribe of which the aboriginal members of Yothu Yindi belong. The band uses aspects of both Yolngu and non-aboriginal musical cultures, playing songs that vary from traditional aboriginal tunes to modern pop and rock, and they also blend modern and traditional instrumentation. They also incorporate traditional dance in their stage show. Through their music they have attempted to promote mutual respect and understanding, and they helped establish a foundation to promote Yolngu cultural development. The band's later years has been marked by tragedy - their lead singer died in 2013 of renal failure. This song, Freedom, can be found on their 2011 CD Freedom.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Reservation Murder: Joy Harjo and Poetic Justice with "For Anna Mae Pictou Aquash"

Today's song, For Anna Mae Pictou Aquash, is part of the hard history of Native Americans. Native American poet and author Joy Harjo is a Muscogee Indian from Oklahoma. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, and also played alto saxophone with her band Poetic Justice. She is credited with being a leader and force in what has been termed the Native American Renaissance of the late 20th century. The song is an homage to a member of the American Indian Movement who died under mysterious circumstances on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1976. You can find For Anna Mae Pictou Aquash on the Joy Harjo and Poetic Justice album Letter from the End of the 20th Century, released in 1997.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

In the Zone: O-Zone and "Dragostea Din Tei"

We go a bit pop in our random tune with Dragostea Din Tei by O-Zone. O-Zone was a Moldovan-Romanian pop trio formed in 1999 in Moldova. They moved to Bucharest in 2002 and became an instant hit with their first single. Their second single, this song, was a hit in Romania and faded from attention, but then an Italian group covered the song without permission and saw success with it. The cover led to more interest in O-Zone, and the re-release of O-Zone's version became a smash hit in Europe. Americans learned of the song through the YouTube video Numa Numa Dance, but only knew of the song as the Numa Numa song. In 2005, O-Zone disbanded due to personal reasons at the height of their popularity. Around this time, the group's major hit CD DiscO-Zone was released in Japan, and the song and album enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in that country. Dragostea Din Tei (Beneath the Linden Trees) can be found on O-Zone's 2004 DiscO-Zone.

Friday, July 17, 2015

In Accord: Kimmo Pohjonen and "Kaluaja"

Today's song is a wild one from Finnish accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen. Specializing in the avant-garde and experimental music on a customized, electrified and modified accordion, Pohjonen performs solo and in collaboration with other musicians and groups such as the Kronos Quartet. His father was his first inspiration, but he also became interested in the accordion music of Cajun Louisiana and Texas, including Flaco Jimenez and Queen Ida. He also learned the nuevo tango music of bandoneon player Astor Piazzolla, studying in Buenos Aires under Piazolla. This song, Kaluaja, can be found on his 2013 CD Kluster.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Funeral Choir: The Power of One Soundtrack and "Senzenina"

The song for today comes from the soundtrack of a movie about South Africa. The Power of One, adapted from a novel by Bryce Courtenay, is the story of a young English boy in South Africa and his complicated relationships under apartheid with others in the country, both black and white. German composer and music producer Hans Zimmer composed much of the music for the movie, including this song, Senzenina, in collaboration with Lebo M, a South African vocalist and composer. In the movie, this song features prominently in a funeral scene, and can be found on The Power of One soundtrack, released in 1992.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Naked and Unafraid: Max de Castro and "A História da Morena Nua Que Abalou as Estruturas do Esplendor do Carnaval"

This song is so cool it hurts! The long title is A História da Morena Nua Que Abalou as Estruturas do Esplendor do Carnaval, and is the story of a woman who did funky dancing with nothing on but body paint at Rio's Carnival, inspiring the crowd and creating a scandal. It is performed by Max de Castro, the son of legendary Brazilian singer Wilson Simonal from Sao Paulo. De Castro blends classic Brazilian music with funk, soul, R&B, hip-hop and electronica. He takes inspiration from Brazilian funk pioneer Jorge Ben, and bossa nova guitarist Baden Powell, as well as Prince and Stevie Wonder. A História da Morena Nua Que Abalou as Estruturas do Esplendor do Carnaval can be found on De Castro's 2002 album Orchestra Klaxon and on the 2003 compilation Putumayo Presents: Brazilian Groove.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Lebanese Underground: Yasmin Hamdan and "Hal"

Yasmine Hamdan, a Lebanese/French artist, brings today's random song for the day. Hal can be found on Hamdan's 2013 CD Ya Nass. She became well known as part of the duo Soap Kills, which was one of the first independent electronic bands in the Middle East, and it cemented her status as an underground music icon in the Arab world. Ya Nass is her first solo album. It blends pop, folk and electronic sounds with melodies and lyrics inspired by various Middle Eastern traditions. She also sings in a variety of Middle Eastern langugages. In this video she performs Hal in a cameo appearance in the Jim Jarmusch film Only Lovers Left Alive starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Baaa Ram Ewe: Zoë Lewis and "Sheep"

Baaa! Today's random song is by Zoë Lewis, an English folk musician now living in Provincetown, Massachussetts. She began her career with the London ten-piece jazz band Avanti, but has been more recently performing her own solo music and with her band Zoë Lewis and her Rubber Band. A multi-instrumentalist, she employs a wide variety of styles including vaudeville and worldbeat. This song, Sheep, can be found on her 1998 album of the same name.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Griot the Day: Kassé Mady Diabaté and "Ko Kuma Magni"

Today's random song is by Kassé Mady Diabaté, a singer from Mali descended from the Malian griot musical caste. Realizing that Kassé Mady may have inherited his family's musical prowess, they schooled and encouraged him. As lead singer of the Orchestre Régional Super Mandé de Kangaba, Kassé Mady won the Biennale music competition in the Malian capital of Bamako. He caught the eye of a group of Malian musicians who had gone to Cuba to study music - they asked him to join their group as lead singer. The group, the Maravillas, later known as the Bandema National, became famous throughout West Africa due to their music...Cuban style music with a touch of Malian Manding. In 1988 he left Mali for Paris and recorded his first solo record - he spent ten years there before moving back to Mali and made influential albums in collaboration with other artists such as flamenco group Ketama, blues artist Taj Mahal and Toumani Diabaté. This song, Ko Kuma Magni, can be found on his 2014 album Kiriké.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Both Sides Now: Ceumar and "Feliz y Triste"

Ceumar is the stage name of Ceumar Coelho, a singer from the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. She came from a musical family - her father was a singer who became well-known by specializing in songs from the city of Itanhandu. Her parents' eclectic musical tastes meant that she had a variety of influences, including Brazilian legends such as Milton Nascimento, Joyce and Clara Nunes as well as American legends like Joni Mitchell. She released her first album in 2000, and has released six CDs overall. Feliz y Triste (Happy and Sad) can be found on her 2009 CD Meu Nome (My Name) and on the 2009 compilation Putumayo Presents: Brazilian Cafe.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Dancing with the Dead: Ozomatli and "Cumbia de los Muertos"

The random tune for today is by Ozomatli. A seven piece band playing hip hop, Latin and rock, they were formed in Los Angeles in 1995. They sport a wide range of styles, including salsa, jazz, funk, reggae, and rap among other styles. They are also advocates for farm workers rights and immigration reform. The band takes its name from the Aztec calendar, in particular the astrological symbol of the monkey. Ozomatli is also a god of dance, fire, the new harvest, and music. This song, Cumbia de los Muertos, is from their 2007 album Ozomatli.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Galician Celtic: The Chieftains and "Txalaparta"

This short but sweet random song of the day is by The Chieftains. Called Txalaparta, it is from their 1996 celebration of Galician Celtic music, Santiago (Pilgrimage to Santiago). The Chieftains are an Irish ensemble who introduced the wider world to Irish music. The Chieftains were formed in Dublin in 1962 and played their music primarily around the distinctive sound of uileann pipes. They took their name from the title of a novel by Irish author John Montague. Besides releasing several critically acclaimed albums, they are just as well known for their collaborations with such artists as Van Morrison, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Sinead O'Connor and Roger Daltry. They have released 44 albums.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Let the Good Times Roll: Link Davis and "Bon-Ta-Ru-La"

The random song for today is a bit of a throwback. Bon-Ta-Ru-La (Let the Good Times Roll) is by Link Davis, a singer, fiddler, saxophonist, harmonica player and songwriter. Born in Texas , he was active in western swing, hillbilly, Cajun music, rockabilly, rock and roll and blues as session artist or main musician and became associated with the Houston music scene. He died in 1972. Bon-Ta-Ru-La (Let the Good Times Roll) can be found on the 1997 album Let the Good Times Roll, a greatest hits album. The original was released in 1958 as a single.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

You Gotta Have Faith: Teofilo Chantre and "Nha Fe"

We go back to Cape Verde for today's random song by Teofilo Chantre. Known for his long association with Cape Verdean music legend Cesaria Evora, for whom he composed many songs, as well as other musicians, he has since found his own popularity and following. Working from a base of Cape Verdean music, mornas, and caladera, he also draws on his love of Brazilian and Cuban music such as bossa nova and charanga, as well as bolero, blues and jazz. He uses traditional instrumentation such as guitar, cavaquinho, violin and piano and sings in Portuguese, Creole and French. This song, Nha Fe, can found on the 1999 compilation Putumayo Presents: Cape Verde, and on his 2011 album Di Alma. The lyrics translated are a song of faith:
Make me feel
Your sweetness
Sing a song
My way
Fulfilll your dream
And mine
No longer be afraid
Of the world's mouth

Love your love
Swim in your
Own Happiness
Each day
Getting bigger
Until your light
Throughout the world

Until your light
Throughout the world

Taken from

Monday, July 6, 2015

Back and Forth: Lurdez da Luz and "Ping Pong"

The random song for today is by Brazilian rapper, singer and hip hop artist Lurdez da Luz. She is a member of the Mamelo Sound System who began her solo career in 2009. Her video for I Walked was nominated for best Brazilian music video in 2011. This song, Ping Pong, was released as a single in 2013 and can be found on the compilation album Rolê: New Sounds of Brazil (2014).

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Blind Blues: Amadou & Mariam with "Coulibaly"

The random tune for today is by blind Malian duo Amadou & Mariam. Vocalist Mariam Doumbia lost her sight at age 5 due to untreated measles, while guitarist and vocalist Amadou Bagayoko lost his sight at age 15. They met at Mali's Institute for the Young Blind and discovered that they had similar interests in music. Their music has developed from early sparse recordings consisting of guitar and vocals to a mix of traditional Malian sounds combined with rock guitars, Syrian violins, Cuban trumpets, Egyptian ney, Indian tablas and Dogon percussion. This style has been dubbed "Afro-blues." This song, Coulibaly, appears on their 2005 CD Dimanche à Bamako (Sunday in Bamako), which was produced by world and Latin music star Manu Chao.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Cup of Life: Richard Souther and "The Chalice (O Vas Nobile)"

The beautiful sound for today's random tune is from Richard Souther with help from vocalists Emily van Evera and Sr. Germaine Fritz, OSB. Richard Souther is a composer, producer, arranger, sound designer and multi-keyboardist working in the areas of New Age, smooth jazz and contemporary Christian music. A child prodigy who studied piano from the age of three, he eventually became an in-demand session musician until his career was almost derailed by a near-fatal bout of botulism. During his four year recovery, he began to delve into electronic music. In 1994, he recorded his groundbreaking album Vision: The Music of Hildegard von Bingen with van Evera and Fritz. Von Bingen was a German 12th century writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, visionary, and polymath who created one of the largest repertoires of any mediaeval composer and who stretched the boundaries of traditional monastic chant. Her music frequently had themes centering around the Virgin Mary, the heavenly in earthly life, and a desire to know the divine. This song, The Chalice (O Vas Nobile), can be found on Souther's 1994 album Vision: The Music of Hildegard von Bingen.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Pop Legend: Sezen Aksu and "İstanbul Hatırası"

The random song of the day is from a Turkish legend. Sezen Aksu is a pop singer who has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. She has been a tremendous influence on Turkish pop and on world music in general. She has also been a patron and collaborator of many other famous Turkish musicians, and has also collaborated with Tarkan and Goran Bregović, which further broadened her worldwide appeal. Aksu is largely credited, along with her close friend Ajda Pekkan, with laying the groundwork for Turkish pop in the 1970s, as well as spreading the popularity of Turkish music across Greece and the Balkans. She has also been an outspoken champion of rights and reforms in Turkey. She is considered a gay icon by the Turkish LGBT community and often has a rainbow flag onstage during her performances. This song, İstanbul Hatırası, can be found on the soundtrack to the film Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul. The video is from the movie.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Anything but Plebian: The Pleb with "One for Senegal"

Our random tune comes from Italy by way of Africa. The Pleb is one of the performing names of Moreno Visini (He is also known as DJ Zeb). From Northern Italy, he left home at age 14 and ended up in London, where he learned electronic programming and sequencing, and where he was heavily influenced by Asian and Arabic music. In the mid 1980s, he was invited to join the American alt-rock band The Indians, but after they disbanded in 1994, he went back to experimentation with electronica and world music. This song, One for Senegal was inspired by the song Amadou Tilo by Senegalese band Touré Kunda in honor of a fallen brother who had died of a heart attack on stage in 1983. Visini heard it late one night in his apartment and was transfixed. He sampled the song, a mostly a capella, rootsy style of track, and put a funky Afrobeat drum rhythm and guitar riffs under it. The surviving members of the band have greatly admired Visini's interpretation of their song. You can find One for Senegal on the compilation CD Putumayo Presents: African Groove (2003).

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Not Your Ordinary Ice Cream: Buckwheat Zydeco and "Tutti Frutti"

Today's tune is by Buckwheat Zydeco, a zydeco riff on an old rock standard, Tutti Frutti. Buckwheat Zydeco is the stage name of Stanley Dural, Jr. He got the name "Buckwheat" from his childhood resemblance to a character on the Our Gang film shorts. Dural's father was an accomplished Creole accordionist, but Dural preferred rhythm and blues, and actually started out backing artists such as Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Joe Tex. He started his own funk band in the early 70s with some success, but then began backing zydeco legend Clifton Chenier as an organist and discovered the popularity of zydeco. His relationship to Chenier led him to take up the accordion, and after a year he felt confident enough to start Buckwheat Zydeco in 1978. Buckwheat Zydeco has opened for and collaborated with some of the biggest names in music, and it is one of the few zydeco bands to achieve mainstream success. Tutti Frutti is on his 1992 album Turning Point.