Friday, June 30, 2017
"The Lion of Zimbabwe" brings us today's random tune, called Chigwaya (The Bream Fish). Thomas Mapfumo, also known as Mukanya, the praise name given to him in his Shona clan, is a sharp critic of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe and is very popular and politically powerful. An innovator, he created the style of music known as Chimurenga - the word means "liberation" and focuses on themes of human rights, social justice and political dignity. It is also based on traditional mbira music, but played with modern electric instrumentation. Imprisoned during the white domination of the former incarnation of the country as Rhodesia, he now lives in the United States. His music is instantly recognizable to Zimbabweans and has influenced other Zimbabwean musicians. He occasionally returns to his home country though he hasn't been there since 2005. You can find Chigwaya (The Bream Fish) on his 1998 album Chimurenga '98. The song is a 1000 year old ceremonial mbira song calling mermaid spirits to bring health, wealth and powers of prophecy, and implies joy and delight in a time of plenty.
Thursday, June 29, 2017
The random tune for today comes from Pakistani female duo Zeb and Haniya. Zebunnisa Bangash and Haniya Aslam are cousins who began writing music together when studying at Smith College and Mt. Holyoke College in the US. Zeb began singing at age 8 and studied under Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan. Haniya is a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. They began crafting music in the basement of Zeb's dorm between 2000 and 2003 with a rough version of today's song, Chup. After an enthusiastic response from their college community, they recorded a version of Chup and another song titled Yaad. The songs spread on the internet and made it to Pakistan's radio airwaves. They released their debut album Chup! in 2008 and following the album's success began to do live performances. Zeb and Haniya have been hailed as one of the first, if not the first, all female band in Pakistan. They sing mostly in Urdu, and their songs, though often with a pop feel, draw on Pashto and Dari folk traditions and the music of artists such as Suzanne Vega, Turkish artist Barış Manço and Muddy Waters. Chup is from their album Chup! (2010). This version is from their Coke Studio Sessions live show in Pakistan.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Beausoleil brings us the random tune for today, called Two-Step de Port Arthur. Beausoleil was founded in 1975, released its first album in 1977 and became one of the most well-known groups from playing traditional and original music in the Creole tradition of Louisiana. They have also gone beyond the traditional, incorporating rock and roll, jazz, blues, calypso and other genres. They are an extensive touring band, and they sing in both English and Colonial Louisiana French. The band takes its name from Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil, who led the Acadian resistance to British deportation from Canada and led 193 exiles to safety in Louisiana. The band almost didn't come to be - Michael Doucet, one of the founders, was going to New Mexico to study Romantic Poets, but he won a Folk Arts Apprenticeship sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. As he puts it: "I traded William Blake for Dewey Balfa," and he sought out every living Cajun/Creole performer to learn what he could about Cajun music and their techniques. He even encouraged some to resume performing. They are one of the few Creole/Cajun groups to win a Grammy. Two-Step de Port Arthur can be found on their 2013 CD From Bamako to Carencro. Port Arthur refers to a city along the Gulf Coast in Texas.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Our song for today is by San Antonio, Texas group Los Texmaniacs. Los Texmaniacs were created in 1997 by Max Baca to play traditional conjunto and tejano music but also to 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 song, Mil Besos, can be found on their 2012 CD Texas Towns and Tex-Mex Sounds. The song expresses the love of one to another through the kisses that have been bestowed, and says "if it is sinning to love you, I will continue to sin because I do not deny I will still love you, I will continue to adore you, even if I go crazy."
Monday, June 26, 2017
Van Morrison and the The Chieftains are the performers of today's random tune, called Celtic Ray. The Chieftains are one of the greatest ambassadors of Irish music to the world, and have formed their distinctive sound around the Uileann pipes. Van Morrison, from Northern Ireland, is a singer-songwriter and musician who has been described as mystical and transcendental. Some of his albums have appeared near the top of many lists of the greatest albums of all time. He has released 39 albums. The collaboration between Van Morrison and The Chieftains goes back to at least 1979, when they met at the Edinburgh Rock Festival, and agreed to record an album together. The result, 1988's Irish Heartbeat, received positive critical acclaim, including 4 stars from Rolling Stone and was called one of the best albums of the year by The Village Voice. You can find Celtic Ray as the 8th song on Irish Heartbeat, and the video we found is a studio performance, date unknown, by Morrison and the Chieftains which has Morrison on drums and vocals.
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Today's random song, Follow-Fashion, is by a supergroup called Rocket Juice and the Moon. Made up of music stars Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and longtime collaborator of Fela Kuti, the legendary percussionist Tony Allen, the band was announced in 2008 but delayed its recording until 2011 due to various projects of the band members. Led by Allen's Afrobeat rhythms, Flea and Albarn mix in their own stamp that uniquely complements the whole. Follow-Fashion includes guest artists Fatoumata Diawara and M.anifest. Diawara is a Malian guitarist living in France who is noted for a sensuous voice, while M.anifest is considered the king of Ghanaian hip-hop and is an award winning rapper, singer, and songwriter. You can find Follow-Fashion on the album Rocket Juice and the Moon (2012).
Saturday, June 24, 2017
Capercaille tones down our random tune for today with a moody piece called Ailein Duinn (Dark Alan). Capercaillie is a Scottish folk band formed in the 1980s. They are named after the Scottish wood grouse. They perform traditional Gaelic songs along with songs in English of their own composition or by others, and often mix traditional songs with modern recording techniques, rhythms and instrumentation. At first sticking fairly closely to traditional styles and instrumentation, in the 1980s they added funk bass lines, synthesizers and electric guitar to traditional songs. In 1992, their EP A Prince Among Islands was the first Gaelic language record to reach the top 40 of the UK singles charts They have since been moving back toward more traditional music while retaining a slight fusion sound. Ailein Duinn can be found on their 2005 best hits album called Dusk Till Dawn: The Best of Capercaillie, and another best of album, Grace and Pride: The Anthology 2004-1984 (2004). As far as we can tell, it was released originally in 1995 on their To the Moon album, but it was also released in 2017 on Capercaillie's re-recorded songs that appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Rob Roy. Ailein Duinn is a traditional lament, written for female voice by Annie Campbell for her lost love Alan Morrison, a sea captain who was lost at sea shortly before they were to be married. Campbell composed the lament and then apparently committed suicide - her body washed ashore near where Morrison's was found.
Friday, June 23, 2017
Today's song, entitled Ó Gente da Minha Terra, is by Portuguese fado artist Mariza. Mariza was born in Mozambique before it gained independence from Portugal, and she is of mixed Portuguese and African heritage. When she was three her family moved to Lisbon and while young she began learning to sing in many styles, including jazz, gospel and soul. She adopted fado at the insistence of her father, who felt it would give her more acceptance in the Portuguese community. After the fado's most famous interpreter, Amália Rodrigues, died in 1999 Mariza was asked to perform a tribute in her memory, which led her to record a fado album. Fado was starting to regain popularity, and her album sold an astounding number of copies. She has since focused on fado, has released seven albums and has sold over a million records worldwide. Ó Gente da Minha Terra appears on her debut album Fado em Mim (2002). The album has two versions of the song - this version is the last track on the album and is labeled the piano version.
Thursday, June 22, 2017
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, His parents 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 Mandingo. 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, Sadjo, can be found on his 2015 album Kiriké. The song is a poignant and seemingly true account of a mother hippopotamus that spent months searching for her child that had been killed by a hunter. The villagers in the area came to know the hippo and realized that they could relate to her unending devotion for her lost offspring.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Today's random song is by T with the Maggies and is called A Stór, A Stór, A Ghrá. A supergroup from County Donegal in Ireland, T with the Maggies are made up of Irish singers Moya Brennan (Clannad), Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (Altan), Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill (Skara Brae, Bothy Band) and Maighread Ní Dhomhnaill (Skara Brae). All of the members are extremely highly regarded as influential and revered members of the Irish musical community, and all have, in addition to the various bands that they have participated in, produced some excellent solo work. T with the Maggies formed in 2007 to sing at the memorial of Irish musician Mícheál Ó Domhnaill (brother of Tríona and Maighread). All had performed together during their careers, but never as a foursome. They gave their first concerts as a group in 2009, and were invited to perform at the 2009 Irish Global Economic Forum. They were also commissioned by playwright Sam Shepard to record the folk song Two Sisters for his play Ages of the Moon. You can find A Stór, A Stór, A Ghrá on their 2010 album T with the Maggies, and on the 2011 Readers Digest compilation The Music of Ireland (Disc 2) - Welcome Home. The song appears to be a person begging another to come home and join lives together.
Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Lafayette, Louisiana's Nathan James Williams, Jr., or L'il Nathan, started in zydeco music at the age of 5 playing the rub board in Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Cha's, his father's (Nathan Williams) band. His father later taught him the accordion and drums. L'il Nathan recorded his first CD at the age of 14, playing songs written by his father. He is currently fronting his own band, L'il Nathan and the Zydeco Big Timers. You can find this song, Git Yo' Money Up, on their album Face 2 Face - Nate the Great (2015).
Monday, June 19, 2017
Today's random tune is something that we've seen described as a Kurdish dirge. Ehmedo is performed by Aynur Doğan, a contemporary Kurdish singer and musician from Turkey. She has released six albums and was featured in the documentary Crossing the Bridge: The Sound of Istanbul. The version of this song that we have comes from the soundtrack to the documentary (Crossing the Bridge, 2006), though this video is a version I hadn't heard before.
Sunday, June 18, 2017
Today's random tune is by 8½ Souvenirs, an Austin band of the 1990s that disbanded about 2000. While called an American swing jazz band led by French-turned-American lead guitarist Olivier Giraud, it was clearly influenced by gypsy jazz and other European and Latin American styles. The band's name came from the Fellini movie 8½ and the Django Reinhardt song Souvenirs. This song, Le Poinçonneur Des Lilas, is from 8½ Souvenirs' 1995 album Happy Feet. It was originally written and performed by the famous French performer Serge Gainsbourg. Released in 1958, it was his first successful song.
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Our random tune for today is called Stranger on the Follow. It is performed by Kutiman, an Israeli musician, composer, producer and animator who is best known for a viral/audio mashup online album called Thru You and an ongoing series called Thru the City. Born Ophir Kutiel in Jerusalem, Kutiel started piano at the age of six and learned how to play drums and guitar by 14. He moved to Tel Aviv at eighteen to study jazz, where he was introduced to other types of music through college radio. He also met Israeli music artist Sabbo, and was introduced to Afrobeat and funk. In 2003, Kutiman went to Jamaica to research reggae and where he collaborated with Stephen and Damien Marley. He has been nominated for various awards including a Webby, and he won the Vibe Israel & Shorty Story award for outstanding content creator in Israel after the release of his 2016 album 6AM. Stranger on the Follow can be found on that album.
Friday, June 16, 2017
Music from all over the globe. 50 favorites. Where possible, there are official videos or live performances if of broadcast quality. Otherwise it is just the song.
Put it on your TV at parties, or just play in the background. Have fun!
For your listening pleasure, today's tune is by a Turkish-French musician who draws inspiration from Sufi music. Mercan Dede is also known as DJ Arkin Allen, and is a composer, player of the ney (a Turkish flute) and the bendir (a hand drum). He fuses traditional Turkish acoustic music and other eastern styles with electronic sounds, horns, dance beats and his Sufi spirituality. This song, Engewal (Twilight), is from his 2007 CD Nefes (Breath).
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Our random song today is by Emel Mathlouthi, a Tunisian singer-songwriter who penned and recorded two songs, Ya Tounes Ya Meskina and Kelmti Horra, that became anthems for the Tunisian Revolution. She began writing songs as a student, but became frustrated by the lack of opportunities and the political apathy of her classmates. Eventually she moved to Paris after the Tunisian government banned her songs from radio and television. However, bootleg copies of her performances in France circulated through Tunisia, and her songs had an impact on the 2010 uprising against the government. You can find this song, Dhalem (Tyrant) on her debut album, Kelmti Horra, released in 2012 to critical acclaim.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Some classical Andalusian music today for our random tune. Minimaroc (Minimorocco) is by the Aromates, a French ensemble Aromates led by percussionist Michèle Claude. The ensemble fuses the ancient and contemporary, uses old and new instruments, and explores into gypsy and Cuban rhythms and jazz in its music. Its first album, Jardin des Myrtes (Garden of Myrtles - 2005), features traditional Arab-Andalusian songs played by the musicians on traditional instruments. The music takes you straight back to an Umayyad court in Spain - you might even be in the presence of the Caliph himself. Minimaroc (Minimorocco) can be found on Jardin des Myrtes (2005). Because it's the last track, it appears to be two songs, one a hidden track. The first tune ends at about 2:30 and the second one begins at about 3:48.
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
The Turkish psychedelic artist Tatu Fly? brings us the random song for today, called In This Room. I couldn't find much about Tatu Fly? other than that he is the musician Mehmet Fırıl, and that he wrote a number of songs between 2001 and 2006. Of those songs, In This Room has been featured on many compilation albums, including the Cafe Istanbul (2010) collection prepared by British label Union Square Music, Dubai - Suite n ° 32 (2013), and on the collection where I found it called İstanbul Calling Ethnic-Electronic Vol.2 (2006).
Monday, June 12, 2017
Today's random song, Rock Wit'Ya, is an example of what is being called nouveau zydeco, which fuses traditional zydeco with other styles such as reggae, hip hop and R&B. The performing artist, Chris Ardoin, is a musical prodigy who was one of the developers of nouveau zydeco. He is from a Lake Charles, Louisiana family steeped in zydeco music performance, and Ardoin grew up listening to zydeco music throughout his early life until his teens. He started playing accordion at the age of two and formed his first band at the age of ten. The band was originally called DoubleClutchin' but in 2005 Ardoin renamed his band NuStep. Rock Wit'Ya is from his 2015 album Zydeko Fever.
Sunday, June 11, 2017
Gotta little sugar for you today. Our random song is called Shine in Love by Michael Lee. I can't find much information on Michael Lee, possibly because it's a common name for a lot of people. So, you'll just have to enjoy this romantic song that apparently gets used in weddings. We found Shine in Love on the 2007 various artists compilation the World of 96.1 FM.
Saturday, June 10, 2017
From the soundtrack to a movie comes today's random tune, called Sita's String Theory. The song is from the film Sita Sings the Blues, an animated feature written, drawn produced and directed by Nina Paley. The film juxtaposes in parallel the plot of the story of Rama and Sita in the Ramayana with her own marriage and relationship. The film has garnered some controversy among some Hindu believers because of its unorthodox portrayal of Rama. Sita's String Theory was written and performed by singer-composer Todd Michaelson, on whom I cannot find much information. If you are interested in the film, which uses music from old Annette Hanshaw recordings as well as original music, you can download it for free at Paley's website.
Friday, June 9, 2017
El Cine is by Charanga Cakewalk, which is the brainchild of Michael Ramos, a Latino Chicano Mexican who also describes himself as a citizen of the world. A once sideman and rocker who played with John Mellencamp, Paul Simon, Patty Griffin and others and was a sometime member of the BoDeans and The Rembrandts, he maintained a keen interest in the Latino music of his childhood. Ramos has made Charanga Cakewalk the leading proponent of a style called cumbia lounge. Within his musical landscapes, you might hear tejano, flamenco, merengue, salsa, garage rock, ska and reggaeton. Charanga Cakewalk has released three albums. El Cine is from his 2006 album Chicano Zen.
Thursday, June 8, 2017
Today's tune is called Vimana, and is performed by Flamingods, a five piece instrumental band formed in Bahrain in 2009 and currently based both Bahrain and the United Kingdom. Using an extensive collection of instruments from various countries such as Tanzania, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand and Nepal, Flamingods explore and experiment with influences from a variety of cultures. The band started as a series of jam and solo recordings in Kamal Rasool's bedroom in Bahrain, and eventually became a full-fledged band in the United Kingdom when, at the ATP Festival the initial members of the band got together to jam and eventually 60 people joined in playing everything in a small house that could make noise. From the beginning, along with experimenting with different cultures the band also played with different genres, and were inspired by experimental, pop, rock and psychedelic acts the band members had seen. Vimana can be found on the Flamingods 2014 album Hyperborea.
Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Today's song is a blast from the past. Little Linda is sung by Ted Herold, a German schlager singer who, in the early 1960s made catchy pop and rock tunes modeled after American music, as well as singing the sentimental German ballads associated with schlager music. He was initially billed as "the German Elvis" and almost exclusively sang Elvis Presley songs in German from the start of his career in 1959 until 1960. Little Linda was released as a single in 1961, with a B-side of Sie war all sein Glück (She Was All of His Happiness).
Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Petite Noir, also known as Yannick Ilunga, brings us the random tune for today. A Belgian-born, Congolese singer, songwriter and producer living in Cape Town, South Africa, Petite Noir made his musical debut as one-half of the music duo Popskarr (2009-2012) and is part of the music collective Capital of Cool. His solo work has been praised by Pitchfork Media as "seamless, subtle and lithe and luminously sexy" and he has performed with live artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Killer Mike. He was also featured on American hip-hop artist Danny Brown's album Atrocity Exhibition. This song, Chess, can be found on Petite Noir's 2015 EP The King of Anxiety.
Monday, June 5, 2017
Today's song is by Omar "Bombino" Moctar, who usually goes by his stage name of Bombino. An acclaimed Tuareg guitarist from Niger, he sings in Tamashek and his music usually addresses Tuareg political concerns. Bombino taught himself to play guitar while living in exile in Algeria during the Tuareg Rebellion in 1990. He later studied with Tuareg guitarist Haja Bebe, who asked him to join his band and gave him the nickname Bombino, which is a version of the Italian "bambino" or little boy. Bombino soaked in videos of Jimi Hendrix and Mark Knopfler to learn their styles while working as a sheepherder and musician near Tripoli, Libya as a teen, and he also spent time living in Burkino Faso where he came to the attention of filmmaker Ron Wyman, who encouraged him to record a proper album. Bombino returned to Niger in 2010 and recorded his debut album there. The success of the album gained him attention from other musicians such as Robert Plant, Amadou & Mariam and Gogol Bordello, and his second album was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. This song, Tigrawahi Tikma (Bring Us Together) is from his 2011 debut album Agadez.
Sunday, June 4, 2017
Our random tune today is by MC Yogi, a Bay Area hip hop artist and yogi who promotes themes of Hindu religion and philosophy in hip hop whose real name is Nicolas Giacomini. Giacomini began rapping at 13 and, while living in home for at-risk children at age 17, he became a practitioner of yoga after his father took it up. His songs are often bhajans, or devotional songs, celebrating one or another of the Hindu deities. At other times, he provides interesting history lessons on the lives of important historical figures within Hinduism, such as Gandhi. Even when he is doing nothing but beatboxing, his songs can sound like mantras or prayers. This song, Krishna Love, is a devotional to the Hindu god of love and compassion and can be found on MC Yogi's 2008 album Elephant Power. The video has various iconography of Krishna.
Saturday, June 3, 2017
The random tune for today is brought to you by Nawal, a musician from Comoros. Nawal takes the traditional music of Comoros and incorporates influences from African and Arabic traditions. She sings in Comorian, French, Arabic and English, and she is a multi-instrumentalist. Nawal is one of the first women from her country to take the international stage and she is known today as "The Voice of Comoros." This song, Narizambe (We Must Say It), is from her 2007 album Aman.
Friday, June 2, 2017
Salif Keita performs today's random song, called Baba. Salif Keita is an albino afro-pop singer from Mali known as "the golden voice of Africa" and a direct descendant of the founder of the Mali Empire. Cast out by his family because of his albinism (a sign of bad luck in his culture) he moved to Bamako where he joined the renowned Super Rail Band de Bamako and then the famous Les Ambassadeurs. He moved to Paris in 1994 to reach a wider audience. In his music, he combines traditional West African styles with influences from Europe and the Americas, and uses a variety of African traditional instrumentation along with more modern instruments. He has since returned to Mali where he continues to make music and has released critically acclaimed albums. Baba can be found on his 2002 album Moffou.
Thursday, June 1, 2017
As we move into June, the sounds of songbirds are in the air. Koyal (Songbird) is by Nitin Sawhney, a British Indian musician, producer and composer. Combining Asian and other themes with jazz and electronica, he explores themes of multiculturalism, politics and spirituality. As a child, Sawhney studied piano, classical and flamenco guitar and tabla. After meeting up with acid-jazz keyboardist James Taylor and joining his quartet, he also began working with tabla player Talvin Singh and formed the Tihai Trio. After dropping out of school, Sawhney formed the comedy group The Secret Asians with friend Sanjeev Bhaskar and developed the award winning BBC comedy show Goodness Gracious Me. After, he refocused on music and released his debut album in 1993. He has released nine albums, has contributed scores for stage, screen, television and video games, and has remixed a wide variety of artists including Sting, Jeff Beck and Paul McCartney. Koyal (Songbird) can be found on Sawhney's 2005 album Philtre, and on the 2005 various artists compilation Putumayo Presents: Asian Lounge.