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T.O. Music Pix Newsletter #95: Nov. 26/09
Click here for information on subscribing and an index of past newsletters

In this issue:

  a) Harambee Blues: CD & CD Launch (Dec 1)
  b) Other events
2. "Best of":
  ... the year, the decade, and of the recent WOMEX conference

3. Radio:
  a) world music disappearing from radio?
  b) On the BBC: profiles of Alan Freed and Oum Kalthoum (not together)
4. Khaled in Las Vegas, Fela on Broadway
   What's the world coming to?
5: Doug Sahm
   Remembering the great Texan musician, 10 years after his death



a) "Harambee Blues": CD & CD launch (Dec. 1)

To mark World AIDS Day (Dec. 1), the Tia Anita Project is launching its second CD, Harambee!. Funds from the sale of the CD will be given to The Stephen Lewis Foundation, Give A Day and Dignitas.  "Harambee"  is an East African tradition of communities pulling together to support each other.

The musicians on the CD have all donated their music: Fojeba, Katenen "Cheka" Dioubaté, Madagascar Slim, Jayme Stone & Mansa Sissoko, Curtis Andrews, Soul Influence, Mr Something Something, Kgomotso "KG" Tsatsi, Njacko Backo, Valu David, Daniel Nebiat and Kwesi Selassie

The CD launch will be held Dec. 1 at the Silver Dollar with Madagascar Slim, Digging Roots, Blue Room and Mike Stevens. See event page for more info. More details, including the full track listing are here.

The Tia Anita Project is a non-profit volunteer initiative that aims to promote a variety of Canadian music and cultures while creating awareness of HIV/AIDS.

b) Other upcoming events:
Photo: Valu David, Afrofest 2009

Lots of music listed on the events page. Just a few highlights in the next few weeks:

  • Nov. 27: Valu David CD Release at the Lula.
    Toronto-based, Angolan singer and guitar His music combines mainstream jazz, flamenco, hip hop, soul and R&B with his Angolan roots.
  • Lots of Japanese taiko drumming: 3 nights from Nagata Shachu (Nov. 27-9) and Yamato Drummers of Japan.
  • Blues? The annual Women's Blues Review at Massey Hall and Lucky Peterson at the Silver Dollar
  • Besides the Harambee Blues show, Madagascar Slim, fresh off his excellent new CD makes two other appearances
  • Plenty of Cuban and other Latin, Brazilian as always at the Lula, as well as the Sound Academy, and a free show at the Four Seasons Centre
  • Three nights of Leon Redbone, and a new "Africa Meets First Nations" show, this time with the Ecuadorian roots of Choclo y la Orgia Cosmic featuring Dave West


A few early "best of year/decade" articles, and more artists to watch for

a) Best of the year CDs:
fRoots magazine has published its annual Critics Poll nominee lists for album of the year, best Reissue/Compilation and best packaged album of the year.

The winners will be announced (and played) on the BBC's "World On 3" radio show hosted by Lopa Kothari, broadcast at 6:15pm, Fri. Nov. 27, and available online for a week.

See fRoots' annual list of winners from 1986 on here.

b) Best of the decade
The Times Online has (among many other lists) "The Ten Best World Music Albums of the Noughties"

In Newsletter 93, I noted the recently completed World Music Expo held in Copenhagen, and linked to a lengthy personal review of many of the performances by one writer.As those performers are often the ones seen touring over the next year or two, it's worth taking note of them.

On this page, you can read several other attendees accounts of their highlights from the conference.



a) Disappearing world (and other) music from radio
It's not news that traditional radio is going through changing times. An interesting discussion is taking place on one of the world music listservs about the growing disappearance of world music from American radio, including major Public Radio stations. How much of this change is a result of the relatively small presence of world music in North American radio (compared to Europe), how much because of the changing nature of radio and the declining importance of traditional radio as a music source, and other factors is a matter of some very interesting opinions.

Worth reading for those interested. Posts are archived on this page. Look for posts titled "KPFA's Music of the World?".

Also of note in this month's archive: news of the dissolution of the North American World Music Coalition, a grouping of music professionals in that field, and a thread about "lobbying for Secretary of Culture position in Cabinet" (discussing the US): a discussion about the role government can or should play in culture.


b) BBC Radio shows available online: Alan Freed & Oum Kalthoum
A diverse pair if there ever was one!

Interesting and diverse radio can often be found on the BBC, and its shows are available online for a week.

Until Nov. 28: a profile of DJ Alan Freed, the man who "invented" the name rock & roll (or at least took an old blues term and applied it to the new music of the 50's). He is equally known for his role in (and perhaps scapegoat for) the 50's payola scandal, but there's no doubt about his importance in making rock & roll the phenomenon it became.

Until Dec. 1: Justin Adams hosts a profile of Oum Kalthoum: perhaps the greatest figure of 20th century Middle Eastern music.

Having been twice to Libya, my favourite story about her is the (perhaps true) fact that Moumar Gadaffi postponed his 1969 coup by a day so as to not conflict with an Oum Kalthoum concert in Tripoli.



Bright light city gonna set my soul
Gonna set my soul on fire...

"Viva Las Vegas" by Doc Pomus Mort Shuman

They say the neon lights are bright
On Broadway
They say there's always magic in the air...

"On Broadway" by
Jerry Leiber; Barry Mann; Mike Stoller; Cynthia Weil

It's not often that Las Vegas or Broadway shows will make it onto this website, but who would have expected either Algerian rai superstar Khaled or the late Nigerian Afrobeat legend Fela Kuti to be playing those venues??

On Nov. 21, Khaled topped the bill of a 4-hour show, "Sahra" at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas which also featured a band led by Palestinian oud master Simon Shaheen, the Adam Basma Dance Company and singers Assala from Syria and Rida Al Abudlla from Iraq.

An account of the evening, with photos by Banning Eyre of Afropop Worldwide is here.


Two nights later, Banning was on Broadway for the opening night of Fela!, the musical that had previously been an off-Broadway hit.

He recounts running into Angelique Kidjo at intermission:

"Having been absolutely knocked out--on the verge of tears--during the first half, I told her, 'Broadway will never be the same,' to which she replied, 'I hope not.'" (Taken from Banning's Afropop blog)

Imagine Fela on Broadway... Watch a bit here.

The New York Times review opens:

"There should be dancing in the streets. When you leave the Eugene O’Neill Theater after a performance of “Fela!,” it comes as a shock that the people on the sidewalks are merely walking. Why aren’t they gyrating, swaying, vibrating, in thrall to the force field that you have been living in so ecstatically for the past couple of hours?"

The production was also the subject of a major article on the front page of last Sunday's Arts section in that paper.


5. DOUG SAHM: Remembering "Sir Doug", 10 years later
Photo: Doug with son Shawn, 1968

Nov. 18 marked the 10th anniversary of the death of Texan musician Doug Sahm, who died at the age of 58 of a heart attack.

Doug was one of the great figures in American roots music who performed for over 30 years with the Sir Douglas Quintet, the Texas Tornados, and solo. He was a Texan (he oozed Texas), who loved and played all styles of Texas music -- rock, country, blues, soul, and especially Tejano (Texan/Mexican) -- and in fact any good, soulful music.

The great music producer Jerry Wexler said Sahm is "like the Rosetta Stone of Southern music", and writer Chet Flippo described him as "the lonely guy standing at the crossroad where Highway 61 intersected Route 66, where all of American popular music came riding by".

Sahm himself wrote (and sang), "You just can't live in Texas, if you don't have a lot of soul", from his "At the Crossroads".

For all that, he had only two hits in his career, both with the Sir Douglas Quintet in the 1960's: "She's About a Mover" and "Mendocino". The first came about from producer Huey Meaux's attempts to tap into the British invasion, finding a connection between the Beatles' sound and the Cajun two-step. He got Doug's group to grow their hair (Doug and organist Augie Meyers were already there), gave them a British name, and sent Doug onto the charts.

But he was already a music veteran, having first played on the radio almost 20 years earlier, at the age of 5, had performed on the Louisiana Hayride at 8, and made his first record in 1955.

He died too young, but it was a long -- and great -- ride.

Some background and samples from his career:

Some video & audio:

  • Pre-Sir Douglas: "Why Why Why" (1960). Audio only
  • Mid 60's, on TV with the Quintet's British look: "She's About a Mover"
  • A few years later, British look gone, and the Tex-Mex sound of "Nuevo Laredo"
  • Two songs from a BBC show, "Rhythms of the World" which filmed the Texas Tornados in 1992, playing at Texas's oldest dance hall: Gruene Hall: Is Anyone Going to San Antone?"
  • A little souvenir of Doug's time living in Canada (Vancouver Island): an MP3 of Sahm singing Canadian history: "Sir John A. Macdonald, the Queen's hatchet man".... "And all around Regina / They talk about him still / Why did they have to kill / Louis Riel?"

CD's & books:

  • There are various re-packages of music by Doug Sahm, the Sir Douglas Quintet and Texas Tornados. Anything with a selection of mid-late 60's SDQ recordings is worth getting. See's info & discography here.
  • Of note is a now classic 1973 recording produced by Jerry Wexler, Doug Sahm and Band featuring some of the old quintet, along with Dr John, Bob Dylan, Flaco Jiminez, David Bromberg, "Fathead" Newman and others.
  • Earlier, this year son Shawn produced a 10th-anniversary tribute, Keep Your Soul: A Tribute to Doug Sahm featuring (beside's Shawn's eerily evocative performance of "Mendocino"), Delbert McClinton (a man with Sahm-like soul in his voice), Jimmie Vaughan, Joe "King" Carrasco, Los Lobos, Al and others.
  • A biography will be published in Feb. 2010: Texas Tornado: The Times and Music of Doug Sahm, by Jan Reid with Shawn Sahm


John Leeson