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In this issue:
1. The Healing Power of Music: a subway reminder
2. Americana music: Awards & events
3. Milestones: Jimi Hendrix, Marie Knight, Youssou n'Dour, Billy Joe
4. Event notes: Slim releases; Tuku returns and Small World is
1. The Healing Power of Music
Photo: Adam Solomon, Bloor/Yonge subway, 2005
I thought I'd open this
newsletter with a short note reminding us of the
power and spirit of music.
Adam Solomon of Tikisa and the African Guitar Summit sent
along the following email he received this week. Adam also
regularly plays in the subway -- Bloor/Yonge being one of his
Hello you don't know me but my name is E___. You gave me
your card this morning after I told you that I thought your
music was beautiful.
I just wanted to say that I was having a terrible day
before hearing your music. I've been pretty depressed over the
last little while and today was no exception. I was on my way to
an interview this morning and was feeling very sad. I had to
fight back the tears during the entire subway ride so my mascara
wouldn't run and make me look unpresentable.
When I got off the subway at Yonge and Bloor I heard this
incredible music and when I came upstairs, I heard you playing.
Your music was achingly beautiful. It filled my heart and soul
with beauty. I have not felt that sort of beauty in a long time.
Thank you very much for being there this morning.
I'm not a religious person but I do believe in signs and
in fate. After hearing your music, even though it was only for a
few minutes, I felt renewed. That feeling has lasted with me all
day. So I thank you for being there this morning and playing. It
made me remember that life and this world is filled with endless
I hope to see your next show in October.
To hear some of that music, keep your ears and eyes open in
the subway, and/or see Adam with his group, Tikisa on Oct. 25 at
the Lula in a benefit performance for Baraka Orphan kids in
Mombasa, Kenya. (Or you can also hear Adam's recent recording, "Mola
2. Americana week on to-music
photo: Buddy Miller, Horseshoe Tavern, 2005
a) Americana Awards
Last Thursday, the 8th annual
Awards were held in the historic Ryman Auditorium in
Nashville. The Wall Street Journal (yes, that one) carried an
article today entitled,
"Honest, Unfettered Americana". It starts with the question
of just what "Americana" is:
Few proponents of Americana music know how to describe it.
"I have no idea," said Rosanne Cash when I asked.
"I still don't know to this day," replied Buddy Miller,
who was nominated for four AMA awards, won three and ran the
house band at last week's awards ceremony at the Ryman
Auditorium. [Correction: he was nominated for five, and won
"If you look up the definition of the word 'Americana,'
there isn't any," said Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson from the
Cloying, cartoonish corporate country is treated as the
enemy in the halls of Americana. Now and then, you would swear
the Americana movement is scheming to wrest back the soul of
country and restore its former partnership with folk, blues,
old-time rock 'n' roll and swing.
The article also includes links to some of the nominated
The BBC Radio program "Bob Harris Country" has two shows dedicated to the
American Awards. Sep. 17,
a preview, with guest (and award show host Jim Lauderdale). That broadcast is
available until sometime mid-morning (locally) Thu.
Sep. 24, when it will be
replaced by a show featuring highlights of the Awards.
b) Buddy Miller
As noted above, Buddy Miller (who has been mentioned several times in
this newsletter and website), won four awards:
artist of the year; album of the year for Written in Chalk with wife
Julie Miller; duo/group of the year with his wife; and song of the year for
"Chalk" performed with Patty Griffin.
Last year, Miller was in town as band leader for the Allison
Krauss/Robert Plant tour; this year he was at Massey Hall as part of the
"Four Girls and their Buddy" singer-songwriter circle. He'll be back
(nearby)... see next section.
He's not widely known, but is no stranger to recognition. No Depression
magazine in its last print issue named him "Alt-country Artist of the
c) Locally, it's a great month for American music:
- Oct. 3, the wonderful and unique Iris DeMent, who tours
infrequently these days, plays Hugh's Room (now sold out... I'd predicted
that in an earlier newsletter). Here's a
2004 profile from No Depression
- Oct. 10-11: the much better known Lucinda Williams does
two "30th anniversary" shows at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. The first night
focuses on her (I think) rootsier music of 1979-99.
- Oct. 20: Buddy Miller opens for, and backs up Emmylou Harris in
Kitchener. Worth the trip, I say...
- And of course, the unique and eclectic banjo maestro, Béla Fleck helps
launch the new Koerner Hall performance facility on Sep.29, the showcase
event of the Small World Music Festival. He plays with tabla master Zakir
Hussain and bassist. It will likely sell out soon.
And, in a related discussion, the No Depression forum recently had a discussion
"Essential Country Records".
Last Friday was the 39th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's death;
here's a video clip
of Hendrix playing acoustic guitar, and
some comments from a world music forum about the clip:
"As far as I know, the only recording in general
circulation of Jimi playing acoustic - and acoustic 12 string at that. It was
recorded in London on December 19th 1967, at the studio of photographer Bruce
Fleming. The story goes that at the end of the photo shoot Fleming handed Jimi a
left handed 12 string Zemaitis guitar and asked him to play something."
In a recent newsletter, I had a number of notes about the
late gospel great, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. For several years in the 1940's and
50's, Tharpe's partnership with the younger singer, Marie Knight, became one of
America's most popular gospel acts.
On Aug. 30, Knight passed away at the age of
She'd made a comeback in 2002 for a
tribute album to
Rosetta Tharpe, and in 2007, recorded her first full album in over 25 years, a
tribute to Rev. Gary Davis
Some video clips:
A brief bio of
Knight done a few years ago
performs at a benefit concert to raise money for a memorial
to Rosetta Tharpe:
- Audio only: One of Tharpe & Knight's most
successful recordings, "Up Above My
"Up above my head.... there's music in the air"
The great Senegalese singer (many remember his free concert here last September
as part of the Film Festival) turns 50 on Oct. 1.
BBC Radio 4 has a 30 minute profile of and interview
with him. It was broadcast last Saturday, Sep. 19, and is available online for a
week following. Listen
Billy Joe Shaver
In keeping with the Americana theme, belated 70th birthday
greetings to the Texan singer-songwriter who has also made
frequent appearances here and on the website. Last month, writer
Nathan Rabin wrote an
excellent appreciation of Shaver, his music and life. (The
two are inseparable). It includes numerous song links.
4. Event Notes
A few notes on upcoming shows. As usual, details on these and many
other shows are posted at
Sep. 24-27: Havana Cultura Festival: various locations. Music, art,
Sep. 24-Oct. 4: The always-great
Small World Festival has far too much to discuss here; check the SW
website for info on some great and eclectic concerts and club shows. Note
that this Sunday, the annual Word on the Street reading festival features
numerous world music performances, organized by Small World.
Sep. 27: The CD Release of multi-Juno winner Madagascar Slim's first CD
in 11 years (Good Life, Good Living)
is definitely a notable event. At Hugh's Room. (A trio version of acapella
group Soul Influence opens)
Oct. 4: Bana Y'Africa returns. Postponed as a result of the city strike,
it will be a free event, 10am-4pm at Metro Square. Featuring Madagascar Slim
with Malagasy dance group Kintana Gasy, Valu David, Njacko Backo, Akwaba
Cultural Dance Group, KG Tsatsi, and JP Buse,
former singer with the legendary Congolese group Zaiko Langa Langa.
Oct. 17 SalsAfrica at the Lula, featuring JP Buse
Oct. 31: Playing for Change whose videos have become a huge Internet hit
and, Nov. 15: Oliver Mtukudzi, the Zimbabwean superstar returns to