Afropop: “The Field Recordings of Hugh Tracey”

Afropop Worldwide’s “Hip Deep” feature focused last week on the pioneer English musicologist Hugh Tracey who over half a century, beginning in the 1920’s, extensively recorded and catalogued African music, especially from Southern Africa. His fascination with Zimbabwean mbira music led him to manufacture a variation of the similar African kalimba. His version became known as the “Hugh Tracey kalimba”

(An appropriate note to be written two days before Njacko Backo and his group Kalimba Kalimba head a multi-artist benefit show at the Gladstone on May 21. See separate post).

In 1954, Tracey founded the International Library of African Music, “the largest archive of African music in sub Saharan Africa”

Check Afropop’s feature which includes a broadcast, articles & some great photos.


Happy 100th Birthday to Big Joe Turner

Slightly belated congratulations to the greatest of the blues shouters, who was born in Kansas City on May 18, 1911.  I’m sure Joe won’t mind me being a day late, as he’s been playing a steady gig in R&B heaven since 1985.

He started singing on the streets & in church, and later became known as The Singing Barman.  He and partner/pianist Pete Johnson ended up performing in the first of John Hammond’s “Spiritual to Swing” concerts at Carnegie Hall in 1938, and the pair made their first record the next year, “Roll ‘Em, Pete”.

It seems a big jump for a 1930’s KC bluesman to become a rock & roller in the 50’s, but Joe made it look easy.

Some videos:

  • Joe at The Apollo, “Oke-She-Moke-She-Pop“,  1955
  • Hide and Seek“, at the 1966 American Folk Blues Festival at the Albert Hall, London. That’s Otis Rush on guitar, Little Brother Montgomery (with beret) on piano, Jack Myers bass & Fred Below, drums.
  • “Big & Happy” from the movie, “Shake, Rattle & Roll“.

And a brief bio of Joe from BluesNotes magazine (1997).

One of a kind.

Event notes

Event listings ( have been updated. A few upcoming shows of note:

  • Tonight (May 6) a rare chance to see music from Equatorial Guinea featuring Anastasio & Zalang Band in a free show at the Melody Bar, Gladstone Hotel. 1214 Queen W., 7-10pm. Part of “Gladstone World” co-presented with Batuki Music. Details on Facebook
  • May 7-15: Toronto Jewish Film Festival.
    As Hot Docs winds down, this winds up, and it always features some music-themed films. This year’s include:

    • “The Three Lenny’s”: a series of films featuring and about Leonard Cohen, Leonard Bernstein and satirist Lenny Bruce.
    • Also, look for The Concert, From Shtetl to Swing, Song of The Lodz Ghetto (reviewed in NOW) and others
  • One Hundred Dollars: the alt-country band is releasing a new CD and will do an in-store performance at Soundscapes May 10, 7pm, and has a CD launch at The Great Hall, May 13 at The Great Hall on Queen. See Facebook page
  • May 12-22: The annual Lulaworld Festival kicks off, this year with a theme of “The New Canadian Songbook”, featuring Canadian composers & musicians performing music with roots around the world. More info here. Among the early shows are;
    • May 12: Latin jazz singer Amanda Martinez
    • Same date, later time: Bomba Estereo brings its “electro-tropical/psychedelic cumbia” from Colombian and will shake the dance floor
    • May 13-14: various shows feature Patricia Cano, Caché, Café Con Pan Mexican Fandango, Joanna Moon with Donné Roberts and Luisito Orbegoso.
    • May 15: Odessa Havana with David Buchbinder & Hilario Duran
    • and on…
  • May 15: Shujat Khan & Abhiman Kaushal: Indian sitar. A Small World Music show. Details & video here

And a couple of weeks down the road, on May 21, Njacko Backo & Kalimba Kalimba host a second annual fundraiser “For the Children of Bazou” to raise money for the École St Albert Le Grand school in Bazou, Cameroon, Njacko’s childhood school which was desperately in need of help. Last year’s show helped provide repairs to the building and purchase of traditional music instruments. This year’s focus is sanitation and health facilities.

This year, the event is a two-parter: 3-5pm a children’s show (adults welcome) and at 8:30, the main concert featuring a long line of performers. For  more details and background about the show and the school, see . 1214 Queen St. W. $25 suggested donation or pay what you can.

See for more on these and many other shows.

New rap star: Muamar Gaddafi

He may be a murderer and war criminal, but one of the hot music videos out there, is “Zenga Zenga”, performed by none other than the crackpot criminal himself.

The video was created back in February making use of one of his early threatening speeches against the protesters, when he vowed to wipe them out “inch by inch, room  by room, home by home, alley by alley”.

An Israeli journalist & musician, Noy Alooshe, watched the speech and  thought Gaddafi’s appearance, gestures and speech looked like something out of a trance party. He put out a video with Auto-Tune technology, set it against a rap song, “Hey Baby”.  The alley reference in Arabic, “zanqa zanqa” eventually got transformed into “zenga zenga” supposedly by Conan O’Brien, and a video hit was born.

At every Libyan rally and event I go to now, there are always anti-Gaddafi songs improvised that always use the chant, “zenga zenga”.

The original clip with dancing girls, and the “cleaned up”version without.

Other, non-musical Libyan updates are posted on

Afrofest 2011 confirmed in Queen’s Park

Announcement today from Music Africa:

Music Africa is happy to officially announce that Afrofest 2011 will be taking place at Queen's Park on July 9th and 10th.


Full details of the 2011 festival will be announced soon.


Music Africa thanks all Afrofest fans for their great support and patience these last few months. See you at Afrofest!  


Discover Africa in the Heart of Toronto


Michael Stohr

President, Music Africa



Trane Studio struggling for survival

The following note comes from the Trane Studio, the great small music club on Bathurst which is a great booster of music and art, focusing in particular on jazz plus African, Latin, world & urban musics.

It temporarily lost its liquor license last year, and has been fighting its way through a bureacratic mess to try to get it restored.  Everyone knows that the business of live entertainment means that small venues need liquor sales to make any profits.

Read their note below:

Dear Trane Studio family, friends and supporters,

It has been nearly 1 year (July 2010) since the venue re-applied for its liquor license (a process which usually takes eight weeks). The license was approved with conditions which have all been met, however due to bureaucratic miscommunications the license could now be delayed until July 2011. We have complied with all that has been required of us by the city, province and AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario). This has been an ongoing stress on the small business which has been operating at a deficit for over a year already.

We can all imagine how difficult any live music (let alone art and music) venue is to operate without a liquor license. Imagine Revival, Hughes Room, The Rex, The Rivoli, Dominion On Queen, The Old Mill, operating for nearly 12 months without a liquor license. The Trane Studio operates in the way of a non profit and has been operating in such spirit for years, supporting thousands of local and international artists, and will continue to do as long as we are able. We remain committed, despite the challenges, to the art, culture and cultural diversity in the City of Toronto.

It has been extremely difficult to operate without a regular liquor license in place, as you can imagine. We would like, if you will, that you kindly click on the link to our petition, read more and lend your community support.

Please read, sign and share this link with your friends and other supporters.

In the meantime, and until the license is reinstated please continue to show your support to The Trane Studio and our great local talents. We cannot at this time guarantee that there will be alcohol each evening that we are open. However, we can guarantee that the entertainment and menu will be great as usual and we will do our very best to keep you satisfied with great service. We will also do whatever we can to avoid interrupting the artistic programming at the venue. 

We will keep you informed and updated. Thank you again, and please do lend your continued support to the venue.

 From all at The Trane Studio  

CKLN off the air for now & needs help

Toronto’s first community station is now off the air, having heard last month that the Federal Court of Appeal will not hear the station’s appeal of the CRTC decision to revoke their broadcasting license.

That decision forced the station off the air immediately.

However, the Chair of the station’s board of directors says CKLN intends to come back.

“We aren’t even close to being out of the picture yet. There are options. And when there’s a will and community support, there’s a way”.

This is a great loss to Toronto’s airwaves. For more information, including what you can do to help bring CKLN back on the air, see

Bo Diddley documentary (1966)

An excellent 20 minute documentary on the late Bo Diddley, made in 1966:

See also Part 2, Part 3

A number of scenes were shot in Toronto’s Le Coq d’Or (or “The Le Coq d’Or” as it was often called). The club was home to Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks for many years.

A bit more Bo: live in concert


Okavango African Orchestra concert broadcast on CBC’s Canada Live on April 20 & 22

From Batuki Music (

Canada Live on CBC Radio will broadcast the Okavango African Orchestra concert featuring Daniel Nebiat (Eritrea – krar/vocals), Donne Roberts (Madagascar – guitar/vocals), Pasi Gunguwo (Zimbabwe – marimba/mbira/vocals), Kooshin (Somalia – kaban/vocals), Sadio Sissokho (Senegal – kora/tama/djembe/vocals), Waleed Abdulhamid (bass/vocals) and Walter Maclean (Ghana – percussion) on the following dates:

Wednesday, April 20 – Canada Live at 7:00 pm on CBC Radio 2, 94.1 FM in Toronto (check the CBC website for frequencies elsewhere –

Friday, April 22 – Canada Live at 2:00 pm on CBC Radio 1, 99.1 FM in Toronto (check the CBC website for frequencies elsewhere –

Event updates

Check for full event listings, including:

  • Apr. 15: Drummer Tony Allen, a giant of Afrobeat at the Phoenix
  • Apr. 15: Okavango: An African Orchestra
    The second Toronto concert featuring a collection of musicians from 7 distinct African musical traditions. The debut concert at the Glenn Gould Studio in February was sold out; this show, in the Gladstone Hotel Ballroom may add an extra dimension, given their increased familiarity with each other; the more relaxed and informal setting… and the added energy of dancer Saba from Jaivah Nouvel Exposé
  • Apr. 16: Freddie Gwala & Platform One with Tich Maredza Band
    An event marking Zimbabwean Independence Day at the Great Hall (1087 Queen W). Check event listings for details & video
  • Apr. 19: Femi Kuti at the Opera House
  • Apr. 22: “Support Afrofest”
    It looks like the big African music event of the year will be able to stay in Queen’s Park at least for this year. A great show with Donné Roberts, Afrafranto, Ruth Mathiang & Resolutionaries Marimba Band, plus announcements of many of the 2011 Afrofest performers.
  • Apr. 30, May 1 & 8: Mama Africa at Hot Docs film festival
    A documentary on the late Miriam Makeba
  • Plus some listings for the annual Lulaworld Festival (May 12-22), Luminato (Jun. 10-19) and Toronto Jazz Festival (Jun. 24-Jul 3)

Details of these and many other shows at