A Balancing Act
I have a small confession to make. One of my secret desires is that I wish I could juggle. I'm not talking about juggling chainsaws, swords and small animals though. I mean, it'd be great to just be able to juggle, say, four oranges and one apple (and take a bite of said apple during the process), like a friend of mine did a long time ago. Sadly, that desire is more like a lament, as I'm a tad more dexterous on paper instead of with things flying through the air with the power of my hands.
The good news is that in a small way, I can juggle--at least metaphorically. Because when I step back and look at the World Music Show, I can think of it as juggling tunes and musical genres. So, on this week's show (7/20), I'll attempt to do just that. Begining with a small foray into some Latin music (which in itself can yield some juggling of different styles), we'll hear the lead singer of the Colombian band Aterciopelados, Andrea Echeverri. Her song "A Eme O," is her spelling out the letters to the word "amorcito," which is a reference to her baby. The song resonates with young mothers who feel that special bond with their children. Her band, by the way, has won both Grammy and Latin Grammy awards.
That last song, as well as this next one, can be found on a compilation release from the record label Nacional. This song, "Llama," is by another Colombian band, called Monareta. If you were to see this band, you may walk away with hearing some great music, but you may also get to see the members perform while wearing their propeller-topped helmets. It's hard to corralate that image with the image and background of one of the co-founders, Camilo Sanambria. Why? Well, he's a Fulbright Scholar.
Just two songs in and already we're juggling styles and backgrounds. Next up will be a couple of tracks from a CD that features Brazilian Seu Jorge and the band Almaz. One of the songs you want to be sure to catch is their cover of the Michael Jackson song, "Rock with You," done with a Brazilian twist. Continuing the Brazilian juggling, we'll also hear some tunes from Tom Ze, Monica da Silva (who is actually from Michigan) and a duet featuring the singer BiD and our pal, Seu Jorge.
Also thrown into this mix will be a couple of songs from a style called Sofrito/Tropical Discotheque. The Sofrito collective features heavy tropical dancefloor sounds from Africa, the Carbbean and South America. The great thing about this style is that it was formed in the nightclubs in the South of London.
For the rest of the first hour, we'll juggle some other genres and locales. We'll hear from master Kora player Mamadou Diabate--he's actually considered one of the best Kora players in the world. The Kora is a harp built from a large calabash cut in half and covered with cow skin to make a resonator with a long hardwood neck. The skin is supported by two handles that run under it, and it supports a notched double free-standing bridge. It doesn't fit into any one category of musical instruments, but rather several, and must be classified as a "double-bridge-harp-lute."
The two other genres we'll close the hour out with are some African beat music from Beat Phramacy; some Belly Dance music from Egypt and some classic French pop tunes from Alice Dona and the legendary screen siren Brigitte Bardot, who put out many albums as a singer.
So, the good thing about juggling with World Music is that my arms don't tired, nor do I drop anything (except for the occasional bad puns). In the second hour, we'll continue this format, with cover songs dedicated to U2, from Vieux Farka Toure (from Mali) and Vusi Mahlasela (from South Africa). Then we'll hear some groovy "electro tunes" from a place in Paris, France called the Impala Lounge, which specializes in many things "African," like food and music, spun by Djs or live performances. Off that CD, we'll hear from Alexkid and the band Freakniks.
A good chunk of music in the middle of hour two, if I had to pick one--though, I really do like them all, will be this chunk that features the legendary Jimmy Cliff, the also legendary dancehall, Mento band The Jolly Boys (who do a couple of great cover tunes--one done by the Clash, and the other done by Johnny Cash) and yet another legendary band, the once kings of Punk music, the Clash. What the what, you say? Yes, the Clash often infused their music with reggae style beats. In these two songs, though, you'll hear them sampling the Jamacian style of Dub, which is heavy on the reverb.
To close out the show, we'll hear a couple of selections from two different releases by the Six Degrees record label--one by Michael Franti and Spearhead, and the other by Uman. Alright, I have another secret to admit--I'm tired now. At least my fingers are tired. Maybe that's why I can't juggle so well. Just picture Jerry Lewis trying to juggle while perhaps riding an escalator and you'll get my drift.
The World Music Show is heard every Saturday night at 10:00 p.m. on 88.9FM, WCVE Public Radio, or online via this website. You can follow the show on Twitter, @wcveworldmusic. Let me know what you think.