The Best of Spanish Reggae at Siroco in Madrid


The legendary Siroco club in Madrid will present a reggae music special on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 21:00 (9:00 p.m.). The lineup includes Blueskank Trio, Razaguaya and rising star Nora Norman.



Blueskank, from Madrid, is one of the most effective acts in the Spanish black music scene. The group appears in both electric and acoustic formats, fusing reggae, soul, blues and Afrobeat. Blueskank has toured Spain, the UK, Portugal, Germany, France, Czech Republic, and Austria. The group released its first single “Peace on You” in 2009, the album “Taking Off” (Prod. Psicotrónicas & LaFamille Music, 2011), the live acoustic EP “The Wiser, the Better: From the Inside” (Prod. Psicotrónicas, 2013), and the album “A Thin Line” (Youkali Music, 2014)


Madrid-based Razaguaya returns after five years of silence with its second album, “Enséñame” (Teach me). The new recording is an indie self-release financed by supporters and features guest appearances by Blueskank and Dremen collaborations.


Razaguaya’s reggae style includes dub, rock, jazz, afrobeat and psychedelic music elements.

Nora Norman

Nora Norman was born in the Barcelona suburb of Sabadell and is currently settled in Madrid. Nora Norman became popular in early 2013 thanks to her wonderful soul voice that appeared in several YouTube videos. caught the attention of festivals like Mulafest or newspaper El Pais, which included it in its event tribute to The Beatles.

Nora Norman
Nora Norman

In 2014 she performed at the 101 Sun Festival and was chosen as guest artist by Nick Waterhouse during his tour of Spain, among others. During 2015 she participated in major jam sessions in Madrid or initiatives such as Madtown Days. She recently released a neo soul EP.

Sala Siroco
Calle San Dimas 3. Madrid 28015
Metro stations: Noviciado / Tribunal


Colombian Band Sidestepper Announces UK Tour


Sidestepper will bring the contemporary tropical sounds of Colombia and the Caribbean to the UK in July 2016. The band will be playing tracks from their much-admired Supernatural Love album.

Sidestepper - Supernatural Love
Sidestepper – Supernatural Love

Tour dates:

14 July – Larmer Tree Festival
15 July – Tropical Pressure Festival
17 July – Village Underground, London
17 July – Latitude Festival
20 July – The Welfare, Swansea
29 July – Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham-by-Sea
30 July – WOMAD Festival
31 July – Port Eliot Festival

Buy tickets:

Buy Supernatural Love


The Passionate Boleros of Puerto Rico

Miramar - Dedication to Sylvia Rexach
Miramar – Dedication to Sylvia Rexach

Miramar – Dedication to Sylvia Rexach (Barbes Records, 2016)

This album celebrates the legacy of Puerto Rican artist Sylvia Rexach, one of the essential composers of boleros from Puerto Rico. Boleros are the romantic ballads that started in Cuba and spread to the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, from Latin America to Spain.

Boleros are popular with various generations of Spanish-speakers and come in many forms. You’ve probably heard modernized versions performed by well-known world music acts from the Spanish-speaking world. Miramar’s aim is to bring back the old-style boleros from Puerto Rico. These songs were very popular at the time, so you could say that it’s pop music from another era.

The name of this new bolero project, Miramar, has a romantic connection to the sea. In most of Latin America and Spain, you’ll find numerous locations called Miramar: “a romantic snapshot of a place both close and far away from home.”

The band is led by members of salsa band Bio Ritmo, Puerto Rican vocalist Reinaldo Alvarez and Chilean-American keyboardist Marlysse Simmons-Argandoña along with vocalist Laura Ann Singh. “When I first heard duo music, specifically Duo Irizarry de Córdova” says Rei, “to me it was a new expression of pain and longing. It was a concrete manifestation of everything that I love about romantic music.”

Rei loved the way the male and female voices interacted in the classic bolero duos and found Laura Ann Singh, who became the ideal singing partner. “We have to breathe together and feel the songs together, emotionally and rhythmically.” Says Laura Ann, “and because we have this natural chemistry in our voices and trust each other as musicians, I think we got to skip some of the mundane aspects of learning music and go right to the subtle and the abstract.”

Dedication to Sylvia Rexach is a journey through the world of the classic Puerto Rican romantic ballads.

Miramar will be on tour next month:

June 22nd – Minneapolis, MN – Cedar Cultural Center
June 23rd – Cedar Rapids, IA – Legion Arts
June 24th & 25th – Chicago, IL – Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Court
June 26th – Cleveland, OH – Cleveland Museum of Art
June 26th – Pittsburgh, PA
July 6th – Washington, DC – Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center
July 24th – New York, NY – Lincoln Center Outdoors

Buy Dedication to Sylvia Rexach


Nana Simopoulos’ Pathway to World Jazz

Nana Simopoulos – Skins (Na Records NR-9206-2, 2016)

Nana Simopoulos is a talented American multi-instrumentalist and composer who bridges the borders between world music and jazz. On “For No reason, the opening track of hew new album, titled Skins, she features a classic jazz swing rhythm, jazz vocals and guitars and saxophone improvisation.

The next song, “Let the Fire Burn Me” offers Middle Eastern influences in the form of frames drums along with vocal, bouzouki and flute melodies from the Near East.

On track 3, Nana Simopoulos ventures further into the East with a seductive mix of Indian tabla, wood flute and fascinating jazz vocals.

“Owl Woman” mixes jazz saxophone with wonderful Indian sarangi and steel drums, bringing together three global cultures.

The Middle Eastern influences return on “The Pathway” although this time, the frame drums intermingle with a Latin jazz beat.

“Anases” is a love song that features Greek-language vocals, global percussion, bouzouki and jazz saxophone.

Track 7, “Merely to Known” has the best vocal work, with delightful call and response vocals and also some of the best guitar work on the album. This lengthy piece gives the other instrumentalists like the bass player and drummer an opportunity to showcase their talent.

The final track has an Indian jazz flavor, with a mix of tabla, sarangi and saxophone.

The lineup on Skins includes Nάnα Simopoulos on vocals, guitar and bouzouki; the late Ustad Sultan Khan on sarangi; Mary Ann McSweeney on bass; Manos Loutas on bass; Royal Hartigan on drums; Michalis Orphanidis on drums; Solis Barki on percussion; Jamie Haddad on percussion; Greg Beyer on steel drums, percussion, berimbau; Dave Liebman on saxophone, wood flute; Charlie Tokarz on alto flute, saxophone; Dimitri Vassilakis on saxophone; and Caryn Heilman, Daví, Solis Barki and Markos Simopoulos on background vocals.


Bel Ochan for Michel Lamartiniere Honorat

"Les Danses Folkloriques Haitiennes"
“Les Danses Folkloriques Haitiennes”

In the history of Haitian dance, and thus of Haitian music, there is a name that few people know but that signifies conviction: Michel Lamartiniere Honorat. A politician famous because of his courage, who was an cultural anthropologist (ethnologist) first, he wrote the very first book on Haitian folkloric dance: “Les Danses Folkloriques Haitiennes.” It has yet to be translated in English.

It is impossible to understand Haitian music without understanding Haitian dance and the fact that the music is for the most part produced to dance others and that dance is the foremost expression of liberty, even more than writing or speech, in Haitian culture. Haitian music is meant to dance Haitians, even politically. Not all does, but the majority of it must or else it will be pushed aside.

Most of Haitian dances carry the names of old African tribes, Igbo, Nago, etc and are preserved rites of belonging and identity. We can safely say that Haitians danced the revolution of 1804, as odd as it may seem in 2016.  For a long time, neo-colonial Haitians defined Haitian folk dancing as “primitive.” Honorat wrote these dances down as ethnography and produced the very first text to go along with the preservation of Haitian dance.

As it is the case in traditional Haitian culture and it was especially the case before the American occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934: an Ochan is a military salute to a great person. A Bel Ochan, a beautiful Ochan, is an Ochan full of gesture and of conviviality, sent from a world that smells of humanity, dignity, and satisfaction. Bel Ochan Michel Lamartiniere Honorat, Mama, a man who even left behind “secret writings” about Haitian vodou that have not been published, because you have accomplished.


Accordionist Kepa Junkera Announces New Album, Maletak

Kepa Junkera and Sorginak
Kepa Junkera and Sorginak

Diatonic accordion virtuoso and composer Kepa Junkera has announced the release of his new album titled Maletak. The album will be available June 3rd.

Kepa explains his concept as follows: “I’m so glad I kept the Triki suitcases!. I had stored them in the attic but they have acquired a special meaning for this project. They inspire me and tell me stories that they only know. The suitcases are the first to travel, they store the excitement generated right before you open them and discover what they contain, the essence of my days, the sonic reason for my travels, the worn nomad instrument waiting impatiently for its best moment.

I wanted to unite luggage and animals in impossible scenery that resonates deeply with my soul. We are in an ancestral landscape that feels close and ours. The Flysch reminds me of the folds of the triki and the ocean moves and roars just like the bellows that breathes in the air and marks the rhythm. Nature, animals, luggage, Sorginak … A journey after all, full of melodies and poetry. Enjoy this mixture and feel the power of nature, the arcane and the unusual.”

The Spanish regions of Galicia, Aragon, Catalonia, the Basque Country, Castilla y Leon are stages of this musical journey. Kepa is joined once more by the all-female ensemble Sorginak.

The guest vocalists include: Sorginak, Ion Elustondo, Beloki, Imanol Urkizu and Xabi Solano from the Basque Country. Eliseo Parra and Gritsanda from Castilla and Leon. Amadeu Guillem Rosell and Ballaz from Catalonia. Beatriz Bernard, Rocio Sapiña and Lourdes Escusol from Aragon. Xabier Diaz and Adufeiras de Salitre from Galicia.

Also featured is an impressive cast of musicians: Daniel Do Pando, Ibon Koteron, Oreka TX, Jose Luis Stack, Josete Ordoñez, Antonio Serrano, Diego Galaz, Germán Diaz and Pedro Lamas.

The CD will be released in a 24-page booklet with photographs by Igotz Ziarreta and Santi Yaniz and 10 cards which are pieces of a jigsaw puzzle created by Rober Garay and Alberto Palomera.


The Nile Project to Present Top East African Musicians in London

The Nile Project
The Nile Project

Top musicians from 6 Nile River countries (Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi and Tanzania) will present a dynamic collaboration on Sunday, June 19th, 2016 at Islington Assembly Hall, N1 2UD in London.

The Nile Project explores the cultural connections from Lakes Victoria and Tana to Cairo in joyful music and song. The ensemble released an album titled Aswan.

Established in 2013, the project is a collective, drawing on a pool of over 35 musicians.

In February 2016 they gathered for 2 weeks in Aswan, Egypt, and after performing at the African Union in Addis Ababa are now touring their new sound.

Tickets £22.50
Doors open 6.30pm, starts 7.30pm


Explosive Fertility of Haiti’s Musical Legacy

Various Artists – Tanbou Toujou Lou: Meringue, Kompa Kreyou, Vodou Jazz & Electric Folklore from Haiti (1960-1981) (Ostinato Records, 2016)

Occasionally some crank will go on and on about how great the music was in his or her day and about how today all the music is garbage. I have a tendency to chalk up this kind of discontented blathering a way for some people to wax poetic about the music of their day and that need for the musical version of comfort food. But every once in a while I get a musical kick in the gut like with Ostinato Records’ June 2016 release of Tanbou Toujou Lou: Merengue, Kompa Kreyou, Vodou Jazz & Electric Folklore from Haiti (1960-1981).

Culled from private collections and radio archive storage rooms from New York to Port-au-Prince to Jacmel to St. Marc, the music of Tanbou Toujou Lou is the living, breathing legacy of the height of Haiti’s rich musical scene during the 1960s, 70s and 80s from recording labels like Ibo Records, Marc Records and Mini Records, as well as a wealth from smaller labels.

So, with densely packed percussion, finely honed brass lines and all the riches groups like Zotobre, Les Gypsies de Petionville and Les Loups Noirs managed to squeeze out of African roots music, Cuban and Colombian musical styles and vodou drumming, it’s not such a leap to find the music of the past worth pining over while shedding a tear or two.

All it takes is a listen to Tanbou Toujou Lou’s opening track “Lagen” by Zotobre to fall victim to the stunning, explosive richness of Haiti’s musical legacy. I dare anyone to find better percussion on a recording done in the last year. And, Tanbou Toujou Lou just gets better with Les Gypsies de Petionville’s “Francine,” Les Loups Noirs’ “Bebe Showman” and “Gislene” by Tabou Combo.

Fans get a taste of groups like Coupe Cloue et Trio Select, Super Jazz de Jeunes, Ensemble Etoile du Soir and Ensemble Webert Sicot.

While some tracks may sound a little dated, one thing is clear that this music is vibrantly drawn, and has been largely and sorrowfully overlooked.

Compiled and curated by Vik Sohonie, Tanbou Toujou Lou is lushly packed with heady tracks like “Lonin,” “Tipotage” and “Samba Pachas No2.”

With 19 tracks of Haitian deliciousness in a blast from the past it’s hard to go wrong with this offering.


Tejano Music Singer Emilio Navaira III Dies at 53

Tejano and country music singer-songwriter and musician Emilio Navaira III passed away May 16, 2016 in New Braunfels, Texas. Emilio was also one of the few Tejano artists to have considerable success in both the United States and Mexico.

Emilio Navaira III was born August 23, 1962 in San Antonio, Texas to Mexican-American parents.

Possessing one of the greatest voices in the history of Tejano music, Emilio Navaira was an icon in the genre. Both a GRAMMY and a Latin GRAMMY Award winner, he showcased his strong Texas roots in everything he did,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. “From his relentless touring schedule to his impressive lyrics and signature sound, Emilio was beloved by many, and helped to shape an entire genre of music. Our creative community has lost a uniquely gifted talent, and our deepest condolences go out to his family, friends, and all those who had the privilege and honor of working with him. He will be missed.”


Country and folk musician and songwriter Guy Clark Dies at 74

American country and folk music singer-songwriter and musician Guy Clark passed away May 17, 2016 in Austin, Texas.

Guy Clark was born November 6, 1941 in Monahans, Texas. He moved to Nashville in 1971 and was one of the creators of progressive country and outlaw country.

Guy Clark was truly gifted, both as a songwriter and folk musician. Having penned classics like “Desperados Waiting For A Train” and “L.A. Freeway,” Guy became one of the most admired figures in Nashville, and served as a songwriting mentor to many other talented musicians,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy. “Guy’s songs were recorded by artists such as Johnny Cash, Kenny Chesney, Vince Gill, and Ricky Skaggs, with many reaching the upper echelon of the country songs chart. And his much-acclaimed album, My Favorite Picture Of You, earned him a GRAMMY Award for Best Folk Album for 2013. We have lost a cherished artist and our sincerest condolences go out to Guy’s family, friends, and collaborators.”

In 2004, Guy Clark was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. He received the Americana Music Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, and in 2013, he received the Academy of Country Music’s Poet’s Award, along with Hank Williams.

Clark was a mentor to artists such as Steve Earle and Rodney Crowell and his songs have been covered by a multitude of artists, including Johnny Cash, Brad Paisley, David Allen Coe, Ricky Skaggs, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Jimmy Buffet, Asleep At The Wheel and many others.

Photo credit: Guy Clark photo by


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