“Under African Skies”: Documentary on “Graceland”, 25 years on (updated)

Update, May 24: See this page for details on the various CD/DVD/Blu-ray packages being released June 5. Update (May 18): The film will be shown on A&E (TV), May 25 at 10pm. Update (May 13): A couple of film reviews: LA Times (May 11) The Age (Australia) (May 14) And, to capture a bit of the flavour of the original album release, you can find many videos on YouTube of Simon’s original “Graceland” tour which followed the original album release. Many are from the final concert in Harare, Zimbabwe, including: “You Can Call Me Al“ “Diamonds on the Soles of … Continue reading

May Days (and down the road)

Check www.to-music.ca/events for details on these and many more shows. Great stuff to look forward to this month including… A big-time highlight: Khaira Arby at the Lula May 8. More on her here The Annual Lulaworld Festival kicks off the next day, marking 10 years of this Toronto musical treasure. This year’s festival focuses on many of the collaborations between local and international musicians. A great lineup for 11 days, starting with Autorickshaw, and ending up with a huge blowout concert featuring Pupy y Los Que Son Son from Cuba at the Phoenix Theatre. May 12: Too much going on … Continue reading

Njacko & Friends: supporting Bazou at the Gladstone, May 12

This is the third annual fundraising event for this project to raise much-needed funds for Njacko Backo’s childhood school, École St. Albert Le Grand in Bazou Cameroon. The school, which receives no government support was lacking in so many basic facilities, that Njacko and his wife Valery, on visiting in 2009, decided to embark on a 5-year project to help. In the first two years, they raised over $8000 for which helped with building rehabilitation, latrines, soccer equipment and music instruments. This year, the goal is to raise $8000. For more about the project, click here The annual Gladstone event … Continue reading

Don’t miss Khaira Arby May 8: “It’s boom! It’s flash! It’s great!”

Anyone who’s followed this website, or my newsletter for the last couple of years, knows that I’m a huge fan of the Malian singer Khaira Arby. Over the summer of 2010, I followed news & reviews of her first-ever North American tour, and finally saw her perform in Toronto that September, at the Ashkenaz Festival and also in the CIUT studios. She was indeed, an amazing singer, but here, she was singing as a guest with the New York City Band, Sway Machinery. So later that month,  I took the train to Montreal to catch her performing with her own … Continue reading

Doc Pomus: documentary, biography & appreciation

A new documentary, AKA Doc Pomus will screen on May 13 at the Bloor Hot Docs Theatre as part of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. (Screening details here) I don’t know the documentary, but  highly recommend this, based only on what I know of Doc Pomus’s life. Doc grew up as a short, overweight Jewish kid in Brooklyn, whose childhood polio meant he lived life with crutches (and later in a wheelchair). He became a true blues shouter in the Joe Turner style, and later half of the most successful pop music songwriting team in the early to mid-60’s (“Save … Continue reading

Benefit for Billy Bryans tonight at Lula

A reminder of the night for Billy Bryans tonight at the Lula Lounge. The producer, musician, publicist, promoter, DJ and friend of music (especially Cuban and Latin music in recent years) has been suffering from lung cancer for some time and is now in palliative care. His impact to the local music scene has been significant enough that Errol Nazareth wrote News that Billy Bryans is once again fighting lung cancer and receiving palliative care has galvanized the music community in a way I haven’t witnessed in all the years I’ve been covering the city’s various scenes. Last Saturday, Garvia … Continue reading

Bombino: London concert still on (Fri. Apr 13)

It’s unfortunate that the visas for the Bombino and band did not come through in time for Thursday’s Lula Lounge show; no doubt the band would have rocked the place again. They may be back later this summer, but the good news is that they did finally get the visas this afternoon, and their Friday, April 13 scheduled concert in London, Ont at the Aeolian, put on by Sunfest is still on. Sunfest concert info Article on the visa issues here Bombino interview with CBC music about the situation in Mali (Bombino is a Tuareg from Niger) Below: Bombino at … Continue reading

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

CANCELLED: Bombino concert at Lula Lounge, April 12

Sadly, it looks like the return of this great Tuareg guitarist to Toronto won’t be happening. From Small World Music: It’s with considerable regret and frustration that we’re forced to cancel tomorrow’s Bombino performance at Lula Lounge. Due to visa complications, the band was unable to enter Canada for this show. We hope for their sake, that they’re able to cross the border in time for some of their other Canadian dates. Obviously, we’ll look for another opportunity to present this wonderful artist and will keep you informed. If you’ve bought tickets for the event, refunds are forthcoming. You can … 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