The crisis in Mali, Tuareg music and rebellion

For some people, when you say “Timbuktu”, it is like the end of the world, but that is not true. I am from Timbuktu, and I can tell you we are right at the heart of the world. — Ali Farka Touré. from the liner notes to his 1994 album, Talking Timbukutu In 1994, I was looking forward to seeing the great Malian guitarist for the first time, in a concert with American Ry Cooder, with whom he had recorded the above CD. However, not long before that concert, word came out that Touré had cancelled his tour, because of … Continue reading

Gospel (and other) music for Easter

An appropriate time for a bit of gospel… Mahalia Jackson From the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, the intro says it all: “The World’s Greatest Gospel Singer… Miss Mahalia Jackson”   Sister Rosetta Tharpe Gospel and rock & roll: The connection is well known. Numerous soul singers had roots in that tradition, starting with Ray Charles,  and Sam Cooke who was once one of the great stars of gospel. But one performer who is less known now,  was perhaps a much more important link between the two musics: Sister Rosetta Tharpe,  a highly under-rated performer. Below, part 1 of a BBC … Continue reading

Khaira Arby at the Lula May 8

Great news, that Malian singer Khaira Arby is finally playing a concert in town with her band.  Of course, given the situation in Mali, especially in her region, around Timbuktu, we can all hope not only that she gets here, but that the fighting is resolved soon, and the people there can enjoy peace. She, Vieux Farka Touré, Bassekou Kouyaté have just released a new single, “La Monde Pour La Paix” pleading for peace. Khaira first played North America in the late summer of 2010 (and in fact, it was almost the first time she’d ever travelled outside Mali), and … Continue reading

From the Twitter- & other -verses

A few odds and ends collected or sent on Twitter (and other sources) recently.  See @tomusicpix A retweet from @RootsMusicCanada Fair enough. RT @alannealottawa: Kiran Ahluwalia wasn’t impressed that presenter didn’t attempt her last name #cbcjunos http://yfrog.com/ny3sgsaj Via  @RealWorldRec: Creole Choir of Cuba recording ‘Tande’ in the Wooden Room at @RealWorldStudio http://youtu.be/fHBQ-jzgNBU (Creole Choir is better known in Toronto as Grupo Vocal Desandann) 60 years ago: the first rock & roll concert & first rock & roll riot. Alan Freed in Cleveland: http://t.co/0CyVP0uh via Assoc. Music Parents “I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my … Continue reading

Doctor Mulatu, I presume

Update (April 1) Watch “Mulatau Astatke and the African Jazz Village“, his project to foster jazz in Africa. In the “long overdue” category, news has come out that the “Father of Ethio Jazz”, Mulatu Astatke will receive an honourary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College. Other recipients will be Allison Krauss and The Eagles (I will not try to picture The Eagles on a par with Mulatu. Perhaps they should get an honourary Bachelor’s degree). Congratulations to a true master. Two portraits of the Doctor from his 2008 appearance with the Either Orchestra at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre: my photo, … Continue reading

Earl Scruggs, RIP

No doubt the most influential banjoist in the world died on March 28, at the age of 88. The website Bluegrass Today, is not surprisingly filled with appreciations of Scruggs’ career, including this article by David Morris, titled “A Legend’s Biggest Moments”. Here’s the irony of being asked to write about the highlights of Earl Scruggs’ career as king of the banjo and a bluegrass pioneer: What doesn’t make the cut as one of his top achievements would be the crowning moment for just about every other picker. Read more here. Scruggs’ signature tune, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”, was first recorded … Continue reading

Buddy Miller interview

One of my favourite musicians, Buddy Miller, gets little public attention, in part because he seems to be a pretty low-key, self-effacing guy, who is just as happy playing behind — and producing — artists who get the bigger publicity. A recent interview with him: Q&A Interview with Musician and Producer Buddy Miller. The above has a video link of Buddy performing with fellow guitarists Marc Ribot & Bill Frisell, plus steel player Greg Leisz, doing George Jones’ “Why Baby Why?”. Below, Buddy solo with one of his favourite songs. “That’s How I Got to Memphis” (Tom T Hall):  

Wazimbo at the Lula Lounge, March 8, 2012

A terrific show and performance by Wazimbo, the great Mozambique Marrabenta singer last week. A tremendous voice, and energetic performer, he kept the dance floor going, and also brought out the Mozambique community to celebrate his first Canadian tour. He will be back in the area this summer, hitting some of the festivals. Watch for him… He was backed by some excellent Toronto musicians: Tich Maredza (rhythm guitar) Larry Lewis (lead guitar) Sam Petit (bass) Gordin Mapika (drums) Ruben Esguerra (congas) Thanks to Batuki Music Society for this rare to chance to hear a great artist from Mozambique. Two video … Continue reading

Wazimbo: music from Mozambique – tonight at the Lula

A rare chance to hear some music from Mozambique tonight at the Lula Lounge. Wazimbo (Humberto Carlos Benfica)’s musical career in Mozambique goes back almost 50 years, and he’s now one of the most famous singers of the marrabenta style. This is his first trip to Canada. Tonight, he’ll be backed by some top local musicians (Tich Maredza, Larry Lewis, Ruben Esguerra — all from the Tich Maredza Band — plus Gordin Mapika and Sam Petit). Wazimbo was interviewed last Sunday by Nadine McNulty on Karibuni (CIUT). That program is still online for a few more days. (Link is below). … Continue reading

Random recent musical notes

A few odds and ends from the musical world recently… A new double CD out on Stern’s of the late Guinean great Sory Kandia Kouyaté. Info, and some music here. Feel free to crank up the volume. Baaba Maal on the food crisis in Mauritania Reports from Senegal recently are that Youssou n’Dour was injured in the leg by a tear gas canister in the unrest over the election situation (and the court decision to not allow him to run for president). See also earlier post on this site And taking another musical perspective on serious political struggles, while the … Continue reading