Trio Da Kali Announces US Tour

Trio Da Kali
Trio Da Kali

Contemporary Mandé griot act Trio Da Kali has announced its upcoming American tour. Trio Da Kali features Hawa Kassé Mady Diabaté on vocals, Lassana Diabaté (of AfroCubism) on the bala and Mamadou Kouyaté (son of Bassekou Kouyaté) on the bass ngoni. The Trio recently performed in Spain at WOMEX 2016.

Trio Da Kali has been in the studio recording a new album with Kronos Quartet.

02.11.2016 – ArtsLIVE – University of Dayton, OH (USA)
04.11.2016 – Zellerbach Auditorium – University of California, Berkeley CA (USA)
06.11.2016 – Center for the Arts – Grass Valley, CA (USA)
09.11.2016 – Sanctuary for Independent Media – Troy NY (USA)
11.11.2016 – Goddard College – Plainfield VT (US)
12.11.2016 – Carnegie Hall-Zankel – New York NY (USA) with Derek Gripper
13.11.2016 – Calvary Center – Crossroads Music, Philadelphia, PA (USA)


Trinidadian Star Calypso Rose Receives WOMEX 2016 Artist Award

Calypso Rose is presented with the WOMEX 2016 Artist Award by her laudator (WOMEX 2007 Award winner) Ivan Duran. - Photograph by Eric van Nieuwland.
Calypso Rose is presented with the WOMEX 2016 Artist Award by her laudator (WOMEX 2007 Award winner) Ivan Duran. – Photograph by Eric van Nieuwland.

Acclaimed calypso vocalist Calypso Rose (Trinidad & Tobago) was presented with the WOMEX 2016 Artist Award in a ceremony held earlier today in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

I would especially like to thank WOMEX, the World Music Expo…but now I want to keep you on your feet by dancing!,” said Calypso Rose, who ended the closing ceremony delivering a special performance accompanied on stage by the all-star Calypso Sound System featuring Drew Gonsalves and other members of Kobo Town.


Music School 4Elementos Skuela Receives WOMEX 2016 Professional Excellence Award

Henry Arteaga receives the WOMEX 2016 Professional Exellence Award on behalf of the 4Elementos Skuela that he founded. Photograph by Eric van Nieuwland
Henry Arteaga receives the WOMEX 2016 Professional Exellence Award on behalf of the 4Elementos Skuela that he founded. Photograph by Eric van Nieuwland


Colombian hip-hop school 4Elementos Skuela received the Professional Excellence Award.

Our neighborhood and our school are more alive and happier than ever and it is them who really deserve the applause,” said founder Henry Arteaga. “I am ashamed that in my country thousands of people think more can be achieved through war instead of through peace. Music on the other hand, born from the soul, is made to connect one another. The WOMEX Award ancient goddess figurine represents a mother – and we may have forgotten it, but this signifies something very special – love. This Award thus for me is a symbol of what we need now for rescuing my country and its future.”


Chris Austin Songwriting Competition Accepting Entries Until February 2017


MerleFest has begun accepting entries for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest and will continue until February 2017. The Chris Austin Songwriting Contest is one of the most admired songwriting contests in American roots and Americana music and has a reputation for inaugurating careers and discovering significant new talent.

Aspiring songwriters may submit entries to the contest using the online entry form or by mailing entries to MerleFest/CASC, PO Box 120, Wilkesboro, NC 28697. The deadline to enter will be February 1, 2017.

Applicants should make note that all lyrics must be written in English and no instrumentals will be accepted. To read more about the contest rules and how to enter, visit

Now in its 25th year, the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest is an extraordinary opportunity for songwriters to have their original songs heard and judged by a panel of Nashville music industry professionals, under the direction of volunteer contest chairperson, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Jim Lauderdale. MerleFest, scheduled for April 27-April 30, 2017, is an annual gathering of musicians and music fans that takes place on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.

The first round of the CASC competition takes place in Nashville, Tenn., and is narrowed down to 12 finalists representing four categories: bluegrass, country, general and gospel/inspirational. Finalists are then invited to the final round of the competition that takes place Friday, April 28, during MerleFest.

The first place winners will receive $500 cash from MerleFest and will perform on MerleFest’s Cabin Stage on Friday night.

We are extremely proud of the career successes achieved by many CASC alumni. Among these are Gillian Welch (1993), David Via (1997, 2001), Johnny Williams (1998, 1999), Tift Merritt (2000), Becky Buller (2001), Michael Reno Harrell (2003), Adrienne Young (2003), Martha Scanlan (2003), Sam Quinn (2006) and Jeanette Williams (2007),” said Lee K. Cornett, coordinator of MerleFest’s CASC. “More recent alumni include Lara Lynn (2011) and Gary Alan Ferguson (2014). Lera Lynn has appeared on Garrison Keillor’s ‘A Prairie Home Companion,’ performed on ‘The Late Show with David Letterman’ and now lends her musical talents to the critically-acclaimed HBO series ‘True Detective.’ Other recent discoveries from the contest are Melody Walker of Front Country and Joseph Terrell of Mipso. I encourage all songwriters to put the final touches on your masterpiece and submit it to the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest!”

Net proceeds from the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest support the Wilkes Community College Chris Austin Memorial Scholarship. Since its inception the scholarship has awarded over $41,000 to deserving students. To learn more details about the contest, visit


Artist Profiles: Derek Gripper

Derek Gripper - Photo by Marc Engelbrecht
Derek Gripper – Photo by Marc Engelbrecht

South African guitar maestro and violinist Derek Gripper was born November 14, 1977 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Gripper began his musical training at the age of six on the violin. After studying classical music in Cape Town for the following 13 years, he began to look abroad for musical inspiration. This exploration took him to India where he studied South Indian music.

On his return home, Gripper started to focus on the guitar, trying to find a new direction for the instrument. He was attracted to the use of multiple layers in the music of Olivier Messiaen and the African-influenced structures of Steve Reich, as well as guitar arrangements of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

After a series of groundbreaking albums that redefined South African music, Gripper began to integrate the music of other composers in his performances. His long-time attraction to the music of Brazilian composer Egberto Gismonti led to a project to transcribe this musician’s guitar music recorded together with his own compositions on The Sound of Water (2012).

Derek Gripper’s investigation of Malian music has created a new form of classical guitar music, formed out of one of Africa’s most fertile musical traditions. His ninth album, One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali was recorded in a single all-night session and released in late 2012. The album interprets the kora compositions of Malian virtuoso Toumani Diabaté on solo guitar.

Gripper’s most recent works includes transcriptions and improvisations focused on the work of African composer/performers such as Madosini of South Africa, Ali Farka Touré, Ballaké Sissoko, Salif Keita and Fanta Sacko from Mali, and Amadu Bansang Jobarteh from the Gambia, as well as his own original compositions based on the music of the Western Cape of South Africa and beyond.

Derek Gripper’s album, Libraries on Fire, demonstrates his ability to speak the language of the jelis (oral historians / praise singers).


Sagtevlei, with Alex van Heerden (open record, 2002)
Blomdoorns, eight string guitar (open record, 2003)
Kai Kai, compositions for solo guitar (2009)
Prayers And Dances II, Bach, solo guitar (2009)
Ayo, compositions for solo guitar (2009)
Songs for the Swans Left Behind, Frankfurt, vinyl release (2009)
Ale!X, with Alex van Heerden and Brydon Bolton (2009)
Rising, with Udai Mazumdar (2010)
The Sound Of Water, music by Derek Gripper and Egberto Gismonti (2011)
One Night On Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali, music by Toumani Diabaté, Ballaké Sissoko, Vincent Segal, Ali Farka Touré (New Cape Records, 2012)
Libraries On Fire, music by Toumani Diabate, Sidiki Diabate, Amadou Bansang Jobarteh, Sekou Batourou Kouyate (New Cape Records, 2015)


Artist Profiles: Chris Austin

Chris Austin
Chris Austin
Chris Austin was born February 24, 1964 in Boone, North Carolina.

Austin worked as a sideman for Ricky Skaggs for three years, singing and playing guitar, banjo, mandolin and fiddle. During that time, he was discovered by executives at Warner Brothers Nashville, who offered him a recording contract.

The multi-instrumentalist and vocalist released several singles including “Blues Stay Away from Me,” “I Know There’s a Heart in There Somewhere” and “Out of Step.” Austin also developed his songwriting skills, as evidenced in “Same Ol’ Love,” recorded by Skaggs in 1991.

On March 16, 1991, Austin died when the private plane carrying him and six other members of Reba McEntire’s band, as well as her tour manager, crashed in the mountains near San Diego.

Pete Fisher, who at that time worked for Warnersongs and currently general manager of the Grand Ole Opry, and Kari Estrin, then MerleFest consultant and “Pickin’ for Merle” video associate producer, initiated the annual Chris Austin Songwriting Contest to honor Austin’s memory.


Jorge Pardo Releases Djinn

Jorge Pardo
Jorge Pardo

Spanish jazz, flamenco and world music saxophonist and flutist Jorge Pardo has a new album titled Djinn.

Djinn combines jazz grooves, electronic beats and flamenco. Pardo uses acid Hammond organ, powerful drums, electric bass and flamenco guitar along with guest DJs from the world of electronic music.

Jorge Pardo - Djinn
Jorge Pardo – Djinn

Jorge Pardo was a member of pioneering Spanish salsa and Latin jazz band Dolores. He later worked with flamenco legends Paco de Lucia and Camarón. His essential albums include Vientos Flamencos, 10 de Paco, Huellas, and Historias de Radha y Krishna.

Jorge Pardo will be touring Spain to promote the new album. The next concerts will take place Friday, October 28 at Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid and Saturday, October 29 at Sala Malandar in Sevilla.

Buy the digital version of Djinn.


UnampliFire #2 to Present Folk and World Acts in London

Martin Carthy
Martin Carthy

The Nest Collective has announced the second edition of UnampliFire. The new event, called UnampliFire #2 will take place at St Marks – Dalston in London on November 26th, 2016.

UnampliFire will present the artists with no amplification, no soundchecks, and no waiting around – just pure, unadulterated music. The lineup includes Seckou Keita, Martin Carthy, Green Gartside (of Scritti Politti), Cosmo Sheldrake, London Bulgarian Choir, Men Diamler, The Nightjar, Ríoghnach Connolly (The Breath, Afro Celt Soundsystem), Snufkin, Samantha Whates, Flats & Sharps, and Fran Foote (Stick in the Wheel).

Time: 16:00 – 00:00
St Mark’s Church, E8 2LG



The Breath to Perform in Liverpool

The Breath
The Breath

Contemporary Irish folk music group The Breath is set to perform on Tuesday, October 25, 2016 at The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool Hope University Creative Campus.

The Breath is Stuart McCallum (former guitarist of The Cinematic Orchestra), Irish singer Rioghnach Connolly, and McCallum’s fellow Cinematic colleague, pianist John Ellis, along with drummer Elliot Bennett.

Born out of Manchester’s fertile music scene, they mix Irish folk influences with mesmerizing guitar riffs, anthemic themes and powerful hooks.

The Breath - Carry Your Kin
The Breath – Carry Your Kin


Buy Carry Your Kin in Europe

Buy Carry Your Kin in the Americas


WOMEX 2016 Opened Yesterday in Santiago de Compostela with a Tribute to Spanish Music

Carmen Paris at WOMEX 2016 opening ceremony - Photo by Van Nieuwland
Carmen Paris at WOMEX 2016 opening ceremony – Photo by Van Nieuwland

World music expo, WOMEX, opened yesterday in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The trade fair this year includes 291 booths from companies around the world.

The official opening ceremony took place at the filled-to-capacity Auditorio de Galicia. The concert revolved around the theme of ‘Iberians – Music Tapas Menu’, featuring musical appetizers from around Spain’s regions, including Aragon, Catalonia, the Basque Country and the host region Galicia. The performances were directed by Galician musician and producer Pedro Pascual.

Five acts were featured: Carmen París (Aragon), Cuarteto Caramuxo (Galicia), Kepa Junkera (Basque Country), Maria Arnal & Marcel Bagés (Catalonia), and Talabarte (Galicia).

The recently re-elected President of Galicia, Alberto Núñez Feijóo said: “Hosting WOMEX for the second time in three years is a privilege that only the most distinguished cities can enjoy, another opportunity for them to introduce themselves to Europe and to let Europe and the world likewise introduce themselves in those cities“.

The musical discoveries of the Iberian Peninsula, including Galicia, will continue with the Atlantic Connections stage as a part of the WOMEX Showcase Festival running throughout the next three nights in the ancient town of Santiago de Compostela. Overall, the concert program includes more than 60 acts comprising nearly 300 performing artists on 7 stages from 43 countries, as well as the WOMEX Film Nights and daytime screenings.

The WOMEX Awards will take place on Sunday, with Calypso Rose receiving the Artist Award.

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