What do Imelda Marcos, Bob Dylan & Joni Mitchell have in Common?
Answer: In one form or another, they are featured on this week's World Music Show (6/2).
Do you find the above list an odd combination for a show about World Music? Like a good puzzle, you'll soon see how these three meet up on this Saturday's show. But first, a humble begining.
Like a good summer salad, I like to mix things up a bit when I'm putting together a two-hour radio program. And if you've listened to a few of my shows, you know that I also like to stretch the bounds to the tether that is world music. Sometimes that tether is just taut enough to make the show interesting, while other times the rope breaks. But I am not the judge of when that act occurs, I leave that up to you. On this week's show, I think the twine stretches perfectly.
To get the ball rolling, we start the show with a couple of Paul Simon tracks off his latest CD "So Beautiful or So What," which I haven't played in awhile. I had to put it back on the turntable, so to speak, when I read that Simon is getting together with Ladysmith Black Mambazo to celebrate their 25th anniversary of the release of "Graceland," in London. Sure, I know I could have played tracks off of "Graceland," but I chose to be different. In that same set of music, we'll also hear some African blues music from Mali Latino, as well as some great summer music from MIchael Franti & Spearhead, who partner with singer Lady Saw on a track called "Shake It." And, also to listen for in this set will be the tune "Don't Worry," done by the folks from Playing For Change, who say that this song was one of the first song ever written for what they do (they normally do cover tunes).
Recently, I made a trip to the local record shop known as Plan 9 to pick up a few new/used CDs for myself. One of those is by the long running band from East L.A. known as Los Lobos. On their CD "In Time," they partner with producers Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake, who they also worked with in their alternative side-band project known as Latin Playboys. In this chunk of music, one of the mysteries of this week's title will be revealed. Bob Dylan, not one who'd you expect to find on the World Music Show, shows up in two cover songs I found off a recent tribute CD called "Chimes of Freedom." Off that CD, you'll hear from both Ziggy Marley and the New York-based band Mariachi El Bronx.
Ok, so there's one of the mysteries revealed from the headline. How about another? How does Joni Mitchell fit in? Well, speaking of covers, one of her songs, "Dreamland" is covered by Brazilian Caetano Veloso. He's got such a light, airy voice and he infuses her song with the perfect amount of Bossa Nova. In relation to Bossa Nova and to cover songs, I'll also feature the band BossaCucaNova doing a couple of songs off their CD "Revisited Classics." Both their songs feature appearances from great singers, too, like Carlos Lyra and Wanda Sa. In that set, be sure to listen for the lovely voice of Zee Avi. If you don't have her CD "Ghostbird" yet, you should get it--worth every penny. And since I featured Ziggy Marley earlier, I thought I'd close the first hour with a classic track from his dad, Bob Marley. You'll hear the song "Bend Down Low."
And now for the final piece to this week's puzzler--Imelda Marcos. How does she fit into the World Music Show? Here's how.
A couple of years ago, David Byrne and the British DJ/Producer Fatboy Slim released a CD called "Here Lies Love." It's a two-disc CD about the life of Imelda Marcos as told to beat of clubby dance music. It's the story of the dichotomy between the rise of Marcos, and the fall of her early caretaker Estrella Cumpas. The CD has a wealth of musicians on it, too, from Florence + the Machine, Tori Amos, and Cyndi Lauper, to two of the artists we'll hear: Sharon Jones (of the Dap Kings) and Sia.
Byrne says of this work: "The story I am interested in is about asking what drives a powerful person--what makes them tick? How do they make and then remake themselves?" It's a really unique and interesting CD--one I'll be featuring more songs from in the future.
To round out the second hour, you'll also hear some more Byrne music that feature him with the Talking Heads as well as him with Brian Eno. Plus, we'll hear a track from the French band, We Are Enfant Terrible, as well as a unique style of Indian music called Tabla Beat Science, which is electronic tabla music.
I hope you find this week's World Music Show (heard Saturday nights at 10:00 p.m. on WCVE Public Radio-88.9FM or online at this website) worthy of your time. If you have the mind to, you can follow my ramblings on Twitter. Look me up, @wcveworldmusic.