Reggae Specialists VP Records to Release Strictly the Best Vol. 54

Various Artists - Strictly the Best Vol. 54
Various Artists – Strictly the Best Vol. 54

The reggae compilation Strictly the Best Vol. 54 (VP Records) features some of the best-known roots and lover’s rock singers. The set, scheduled for release in November, includes Ikaya, Tarrus Riley, Romain Virgo, MAGIC ft. Sean Paul. Alborosie feat. Protoje, Sizzla Ft. Jah Cure, Raging Fyah and Jah9.

Vol. 54 includes a bonus disc of classics from Jamaica’s celebrated vocal groups, including The Wailing Souls, The Heptones, The Mighty Diamonds, T.O.K, Morgan Heritage & others.

Buy Strictly the Best Vol. 54


African Music Festival Sauti za Busara Announces 2017 Program

Karyna_Gomes (Guinea Bissau)
Karyna_Gomes (Guinea Bissau)

African music festival Sauti za Busara announced today the 2017 lineup. The festival will take place February 9 – 12, 2017 in Stone Town, Zanzibar (Tanzania).

Sauti za Busara will present the following acts live on three stages:

Freshlyground (South Africa); Rocky Dawuni (Ghana); Yamoto Band (Tanzania); Sarabi (Kenya); Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band (Ghana); Simba & Milton Gulli (Mozambique); Jagwa Music (Tanzania); Bob Maghreb (Morocco); Karyna Gomes (Guinea Bissau); Sami Dan and Zewd Band (Ethiopia); Chibite Zawose Family (Tanzania); Rajab Suleiman & Kithara (Zanzibar); Wahapahapa Band (Tanzania); Buganda Music Ensemble (Uganda); Batimbo Percussion Magique (Burundi); Kyekyeku (Ghana); H_art the Band (Kenya); Grace Barbe (Seychelles); Roland Tchakounté (Cameroon / France); Imena Cultural Troupe (Rwanda); Isau Meneses (Mozambique); Jessica Mbangeni (South Africa); Sahra Halgan Trio (Somaliland); Tausi Women’s Taarab (Zanzibar); CAC Fusion (Tanzania); Ze Spirits Band (Tanzania); Loryzine (Reunion); Madalitso Band (Malawi); Mswanu Gogo Vibes (Tanzania); G Clef Taarab Orchestra (Zanzibar); Afrijam Band (Tanzania); Cocodo African Music Band (Tanzania); Kiumbizi (Pemba / Zanzibar); Rico and the Band (Zanzibar); Usambara Sanaa Group (Tanzania); Mcharuko Band (Zanzibar); Taarab – Kidumbak Group.

More information at:


Cinematic Wackiness

Beninghove's Hangmen - Pineapples and Ashtrays
Beninghove’s Hangmen – Pineapples and Ashtrays

Beninghove’s Hangmen – Pineapples and Ashtrays (Beninghove’s Hangmen, 2015)

You can tell that these guys are having a lot of fun. Beninghove’s Hangmen is an instrumental group of excellent seasoned musicians based in New York City who play music with a wide-range of influences that takes unexpected quirky twists and turns.

On Pineapples and Ashtrays you’ll find a mix of Brazilian rhythms, surf rock, funk, dub reggae, blues, Americana, zany circus music, and exploratory jazz-rock. You may think that this more than plenty, but there’s more. What begins with a Latin beat may turn quickly into surf or Americana. The musical surprises are fascinating and carried out with total ease.

At times Beninghove’s Hangmen has a cinematic feel, a wacky soundtrack that would feel at home in a Tarantino or Almodovar film.

The band is led by multi-instrumentalist and composer Bryan Beninghove. The rest of band includes Eyal Maoz on guitar; Dane Johnson on guitar; Rick Parker on trombone; Shawn Baltazor on drums, and Ezra Gale on bass.

Beninghove’s Hangmen discography includes the self-titled Beninghove’s Hangmen, the self-released EP “Rattlesnake Chopper”, a tribute to Led Zeppelin titled “Zohove“, and “Pineapples & Ashtrays.”

Pineapples and Ashtrays is a highly entertaining album that combines skilled musicianship with good humor and eccentric exploration.

Buy Pineapples and Ashtrays


Mbongwana Star Announces November 2016 Tour

Mbongwana Star
Mbongwana Star

Congolese band Mbongwana Star will be touring Europe in November 2016. The group combines Congolese rumba and soukous with urban and electronic influences. The group’s most recent album is From Kinshasa.

25 November, 2016 – Les Nuits Zebrées (Radio Nova) – Montpellier (FR)
26 November, 2016 – L’Observatoire – Cergy (FR)
27 November, 2016 – Arenberg Theater – Antwerp (BE)
30 November, 2016 – Kaserne Basel – Basel (CH)
2 December, 2016 – La Clef – St Germain en Laye (FR)
3 December, 2016 – Le Hangar – Ivry sur Seine (FR)
8 December, 2016 – Ouvre-boîte-Asca – Beauvais (FR)
11 December, 2016 – Pandora Hall – Utrecht, TivoliVredenburg (NL)


Artist Profiles: Bulgarika


Traditional Bulgarian music ensemble Bulgarika is led by gadulka (traditional Bulgarian bowed string instrument) master Nikolay Kolev; internationally prominent singer Donka Koleva; kaval (end-blown flute) maestro Temelko Ivanov; and tambura (long-necked, two-course fretted lute) player Nikolay Kodzhabashev.

Nikolay Kolev and his wife Donka Koleva are currently based in New York. The rest of the ensemble is based in Bulgaria.


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)


Caribbean 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, from Tobago, 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)


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