All posts by Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel co-produced "Musica NA", a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. He was also the executive producer of the first Latino feature film made in North Carolina titled "Los sueños de Angélica.".

Artist Profiles: Missy Raines

Missy Raines

Celebrated bluegrass bassist Missy Raines was born April 6, 1962 in Short Gap, West Virginia. She’s had a pioneering, courageous musical career as one of the leading female bass players.

Missy Rained got started with an unanticipated surprise from her father. “My father had been playing a washtub that he’d made himself and then decided impulsively (without consulting my mother) to buy a bass. I was already playing the piano and guitar by then, but when you’re ten or eleven years old and there is a new instrument in the house…well, I couldn’t stay away from it. That’s the bass I still have and play today.”

As a young girl, Raines attended summer music festivals and home picking parties in the winter with her parents. As Raines’ skill improved, she found herself jamming with and then learning from bigger and better players, particularly International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor member Tom Gray (The Country Gentlemen, The Seldom Scene) “I met him through mutual friends when I was 12 and it was one of the biggest deals of my life up to that point,” she recalls. “Tom is an amazing person and he took me under his wing. He says though that I never asked him to show me how to do anything; that I would just talk about how he played. I thought I was picking his brain.

Raines names her earliest influences as Bill Monroe, The Country Gentleman, The Stanley Brothers, The Bluegrass Alliance, and David Grisman. She later played jazz before discovering the music of Joe Jackson in the early 1980s. “I’d never gotten into the rock, pop scene at all – I’d been affected by it peripherally but not directly. And then I got totally caught up in his music and his writing and a whole new world was suddenly opened up for me.

Professionally, Raines has participated in a wide-range of projects. She propelled her career with experimental bluegrass ensemble Cloud Valley and toured with Eddie and Martha Adcock before joining up with The Masters (Adcock, Kenny Baker, Josh Graves and Jesse McReynolds).

Missy Raines – Photo by Gary Alter
Alter

Raines toured and recorded with Claire Lynch’s Front Porch String Band from 1995-2000 and again from 2005-2008, while creating a successful duo with band mate Jim Hurst. A gig with the Brother Boys opened Raines’ eyes to the value of musical spontaneity.

If you allow it” says Missy Raines, “music can take people and let them be seen from the inside out. It’s a way of letting people see who you are without having to sit there and talk about yourself. For instance, the title tune contains the sort of changes that life often forces upon you, expressed musically. When I was writing the tune, I was thinking, ‘this all makes really musical sense except this one half-step change here.’ That’s what throws you off. For me that’s what I’ve been through. Just when you think you know what’s going to happen, something comes up and surprises you.”

Inside Out by Missy Raines and The New Hip, released in 2009, is the product of Missy Raines 20-year long aspiration. The album, she emphasizes, is a true collaboration between her and her delicately constructed band, The New Hip: Ethan Ballinger, (mandolin/mandola), Michael Witcher (resonator guitar/lap steel/vocals), and Dillon Hodges (guitar/vocals). “I’ve wanted this for a very, very long time. This band and this sound has existed, at least in my head, for almost two decades – it was just a matter of finding musicians that could read my mind.”

Discography

Two, with Jim Hurst (Pinecastle, 2000)

My Place in the Sun (2008)

Inside Out (Compass Records, 2009)

New Frontier (Compass Records, 2013)

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Ukrainian Flugery Lvova Festival Reveals 2017

Ukrainian spring music festival Flugery Lvova will celebrate its 15th anniversary this year. Flugery Lvova will take place April 29-May 1, 2017 at the patio of Lviv City Council in western Ukraine. The festival features a wide range of musical genres, including world music, jazz, blues, rock, ska, reggae, electronic and experimental music. The international festival will present acts from Ukraine, Poland, Hungary and Ireland.

The 2017 program includes:

Saturday, April 29th
5:30 p.m.
Propala Hramota (Ukraine)
Lemko Bluegrass Band (Ukraine)
Bria Blessing with Schockolad accompanied by the chamber orchestra (Ukraine-Poland)
Familia Perkalaba (Ukraine)

Sunday, April 30th
10:00 a.m.
Waking up with “Krykhitka” band (Ukraine)
6:00 p.m.
Torban (Ukraine)
Yurodny world-music band (Ireland)
GrozovSka Band (Ukraine)
Gutsul Calipso (Ukraine)

Monday, May 1st
5:00 p.m.
Royalkit (Ukraine)
Siostry Lotry (Poland)
Tik Tu (Ukraine)
Flop (Hungary)
QARPA (Ukraine)

Website: dzyga.com/flugery/en/

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Artist Profiles: Mick West

Mick West

Mick West is a singer of traditional Scottish music and is considered by many to be one of the finest interpreters of traditional song, attracting worldwide critical acclaim. Mick has toured far and wide, including Russia and Japan, but it is in his hometown of Glasgow where he has been a key figure for many years in putting and keeping folk music on the map.

A lover of song since he was a child, when he sang in the church choir and round Scout campfires, it was after a move from Glasgow to Boscastle in Cornwall as a teenager, however, that his love of folk music was kindled. There he listened to local farmers singing their traditional songs. On return to Glasgow as a lad of 19 years, Mick’s interest in Scottish folk song led to him forming his first band – Molindinar.

He was also responsible for starting the Partick Folk Club in Glasgow’s West End in 2002, still going strong to this day, and he is also the man behind the annual Partick Folk Festival. Mick teaches at Plockton School of Musical Excellence and Traditional Music, where he is traditional song tutor.

Mick also has a great fondness for traditional Irish songs and is equally at home singing these. He is a versatile performer, who just loves to sing, whether it be as a solo artist or with the Mick West Band. The 2009 band line up includes the very highly respected musicians: Fraser Fifield (sax, whistles & percussion), Stevie Lawrence (bouzouki), Frank MacLaughlin (guitar) and Ali Hutton (pipes, whistle, bodhran & guitar).

Additional musicians called in for the recording are: Mario Caribe (double bass), Kerry Fettes (vocals), Graeme Stephen (electric & acoustic guitar), Torhild Ostad (vocals) and Lillebjorn Nilsen (Hardanger fiddle).

In 2009 he recorded his first album for Greentrax, titled Sark O’ Snaw (CDTRAX 344). The songs on Sark O’ Snaw are all traditional and include ‘The Gairdner Chiel’, ‘Matt Highland,’ ‘Chylde Owlett,’ ‘Kelvin’s Purling Stream,’ ‘Kringsatt Av Fiender’ (Face the Foe), ‘The Well Below The Valley,’ ‘Tail Toddle,’ ‘Bloody Waterloo’ and ‘The Rambling Sailor.’ The album was produced, recorded and mixed by Fraser Fifield and mastered by Calum Malcolm.

Discography

* Fine Flowers And Foolish Glances (KRL/Lochshore CDLDL 1229, 1995)
* The Right Side O’ The People (KRL/Lochshore CDLDL1262, 1997)
* A Poor Man’s Labour (Claytara Records, 2004)
* Sark O’ Snaw (Greentrax CDTRAX 344, 2009)

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Artist Profiles: Mick Moloney

Mick Moloney

Mick Moloney, a native of County Limerick (Ireland) has been living in the United States since 1973. He holds a PhD in Folklore and Folklife from the University of Pennsylvania and currently teaches at New York University in the Irish Studies Program at Glucksman Ireland House.

Moloney has recorded and produced over fifty albums of traditional music and acted as advisor for scores of festivals and concerts all over the United States. Additionally, Moloney has hosted three nationally syndicated series on folk music for American Public Television; acted as a consultant and performer on the Irish Television special Bringing It All Back Home and was a participant, consultant and music arranger of the PBS documentary film, Out of Ireland.

In 1999 he was awarded the National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts and in 2002 authored Far From the Shamrock Shore: The Story of Irish American History Through Song.

His Compass Records release highlighting the songs of old New York, McNally’s Row of Flats, won the best traditional music album of the year award from The Irish Echo in 2006 and in 2007 was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air.

Discography

Mick Moloney with Eugene O’Donnell (Green Linnet, 1978)
Strings Attached (Green Linnet, 1980)
Uncommon Bonds (Green Linnet, 1984)
Green Fields of America: Live in Concert (Green Linnet, 1989)
Far from the Shamrock Shore (Shanachie, 2002)
McNally’s Row of Flats (Compass, 2006)
The Green Fields of America (Compass, 2009)
An Irish Christmas (Irish Arts Center, 2011)
Since Maggie Dooley Learned the Hooley Hooley, with The Washington Square Harp and Shamrock Orchestra (2011)
The Ecstasy of St. Cecilia, with Liz Hanley (2013)
Divil of a Noise, with Donie Carroll (Ducksy Records, 2013)

web sites: http://www.mickmoloney.com

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Artist Profiles: Mia Hsieh

Mia Hsieh

Mia Hsieh was born in a port city in Taiwan and now lives in Taipei city. She has been working in the art field and community development for many years. Her movement training includes modern dance, Tai Chi and Indian dance. She has also studied vocal training in traditional Nan-Kwan singing and contemporary vocal performance with Meredith Monk and Lynn Book in New York City, as part of her time there on a Fulbright scholarship.

Mia has developed her own performance style that she calls “singing body” physical theater. She has performed with renowned Taiwanese and international artists in dance, theater, music, visual art and film. She leads several different types of workshops rerlated to creativity and healing through movement and voice.

She is the lead vocalist for Taiwanese world music band A Moving Sound.

Discography:

A Moving Sound (Motema Music)

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Artist Profiles: Mezcla

Mezcla

Mezcla has been an integral part of the Cuban music scene for the past decades. They perform frequently at Havana’s premier jazz club La Zorra y el Cuervo and the Havana Jazz Festival (Jazz Plaza). The ensemble has constantly reinvented itself, highlighting its members’ musical strengths and interests. A multigenerational ensemble, Mezcla brings together several veteran masters with some the best of young jazz players on the scene today, united in their desire to play great music, mindful of their roots, ever looking forward and always joyful. They have a number of recordings under their belt including Akimba! (Khaeon, 2003) and I’ll See You in Cuba (Zoho, 2010).

Born in Oakland, California, Pablo “Mezcla” Menéndez is the son of blues and jazz singer Barbara Dane. Living in Cuba since 1966, he has been involved in many Cuban music projects over the past decades: the Nueva Trova movement (GES with Silvio Rodríguez and Pablo Milanés), the jazz world (Sonido Contemporáneo at the old Club Rio with Gonzalo Rubalcaba and others), Afro-rock and progressive rock group Síntesis (with Carlos and Ele Alfonso) and more.

On the basis of this rich experience, Pablo founded Mezcla in 1985 and has led Mezcla to the present day on countless gigs in Cuba, many international tours to Europe, Latin America and the United States, and on several critically acclaimed recordings.

Pablo has also released a solo project on Zoho Music titled Havana Blues Mambo and has led a United States-based Cuban All Star ensemble for performances at venues such as Regatta Bar in Boston and Yoshi’s in Oakland, California.

Discography

* Somos Hijos De La Mezcla (EGREM, 1988)
* Fronteras de Sueño (Intuition Records, 1990)
* Cantos, with Lázaro Ros (Intuition Records, 1992)
* ¡Rocason! (1997)
* Las Puertas Estan Abiertas (1999)
* Akimba (Khaeon)
* Havana Blues Mambo (Zoho, 2005)
* I’ll See You in Cuba (Zoho, 2010)
* Pure Mezcla (2015)

Web site http://www.cubamezcla.org

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Artist Profiles: Mercedes Sosa

Mercedes Sosa

Mercedes Sosa was born July 9, 1935, in San Miguel de Tucumán, Argentina. She was honored throughout the world as “The Voice of Latin America” and revered in her native Argentina as “a symbol of life and freedom,” Mercedes Sosa was a dynamic, inspiring figure, and one of the most versatile artists on the world music scene. Sosa was also widely known for her message of peace, international integration, defense of human rights and artistic and personal integrity.

After humble beginnings growing up in San Miguel de Tucuman, Mercedes Sosa spearheaded a traditional music and dance movement with her husband called Nuevo Cancionero which declared the materialization of protest music across Argentina and Chile. She served as a political figure of sorts by speaking out for the poor Argentines against military dictatorship and oppressive conditions.

In 1966, Sosa recorded Yo no canto por cantar, beginning a 33 year career with PolyGram Records while continuing to record political music banned from radio broadcasts. Viewed as a serious threat to Argentina’s military regime, Sosa was searched and arrested on stage at a concert in La Plata in 1979. After receiving a series of death threats she was forced into exile seeking refuge in Paris and Madrid, Spain, where she finally settled, but persisted touring the United States, Europe and Brazil.

Sosa made a triumphant return to Argentina in 1982, several months before the military regime collapsed as a result of the Malvines (Falklands) War, and gave a series of concerts at the Opera Theater in Buenos Aires. A live double album made up from these performances became an instant best seller.

In 2005 she released Corazon Libre, produced by renowned musician, vocalist and arranger “Chango” Farias Gómez with Jorge Giuliano (her long-time accompanist) contributing his talents along with leading folk guitarists Luis Salinas, Eduardo Falu, and Alberto Rojo.

Using only simple acoustic guitar arrangements to accompany her legendary vocal style, Sosa went back to her roots and captured the spirit and soul of her homeland. The album contains folk-repertoire classics like “Zamba de Argamonte” and “Tonada del viejo amor,” but focused mainly on contemporary songs by Argentine poets and songwriters, whose lyrical and melancholy verses express a great connection with nature. “Todo Cambia” (Everything Changes), a new version of one of her biggest hits, is a very brave and meaningful song that has turned into a Latin American hymn as voiced by Sosa.

The songs also told of the “suffering earth,” the “forgotten street children,” “lost love,” and the escape into music: “Sometimes I sing ‘Milongas’ when it seems like life won’t go on.” The cover art for the album continued the simplistic theme of the album. It was drawn by friend and fan Joan Baez who gave it to Mercedes Sosa as a gift in 1988.

Through the years she continued to impress fans and critics alike. Mercedes Sosa also won two Latin Grammy Awards in the Best Folk Album category: Misa Criolla (2000) and Acustico (2003).

Mercedes Sosa died October 4, 2009 in Buenos Aires of liver disease. She was 74.

Discography

* Canciones con fundamento (Polygram/Universal, 1965)
* Yo no canto por cantar (Polygram/Universal, 1966)
* Hermano (Polygram/Universal, 1966)
* Para cantarle a mi gente (Polygram/Universal, 1967)
* Con sabor a Mercedes Sosa (Polygram/Universal, 1968)
* Mujeres argentinas (Polygram/Universal, 1969)
* Navidad con Mercedes Sosa (Polygram/Universal, 1970)
* El grito de la tierra (Polygram/Universal, 1970)
* Homenaje a Violeta Parra (Polygram/Universal, 1971)
* Hasta la victoria (Polygram/Universal, 1972)
* Cantata Sudamericana (Polygram/Universal, 1972)
* Traigo un pueblo en mi voz (Polygram/Universal, 1973)
* A que florezca mi pueblo (Polygram/Universal, 1975)
* En direccion del viento (Polygram/Universal, 1976)
* Mercedes Sosa interpreta a Atahualpa Yupanqui (Polygram/Universal, 1977)
* Serenata para la tierra de uno (Polygram/Universal, 1979)
* A quien doy (Polygram/Universal, 1980)
* Gravado ao vivo no Brasil (Polygram, 1980)
* Mercedes Sosa en Argentina (Polygram/Universal, 1982)
* Mercedes Sosa (Polygram/Universal, 1983)
* Como un pajaro libre (Polygram/Universal, 1983)
* Recital (Polygram/Universal, 1983)
* Sera Posible El Sur (Polygram/Universal, 1984)
* Vengo a Ofrecer Mi Corazon (Polygram/Universal, 1985)
* Mercedes Sosa ’86 (Polygram/Universal, 1986)
* Mercedes Sosa ’87 (Polygram/Universal, 1987)
* Amigos Mios (Polygram/Universal, 1988)
* En vivo en Europa (Polygram/Universal, 1990)
* De Mi (Polygram/Universal, 1991)
* 30 Años (Polygram/Verve, 1993)
* Sino (Polygram/Universal, 1993)
* Gestos de Amor (Polygram/Universal, 1994)
* Disco de Oro (Polygram/Universal, 1995)
* Escondido en Mi Pais (Polygram/Universal, 1996)
* Alta fidelidad (Mercury/Universal, 1997)
* Al Despertar (Mercury/Universal, 1998)
* Misa Criolla (2000)
* Acustico (Sony Discos, 2002)
* Corazon Libre (Philips/Edge Music/Deutsche Grammophon/Universal Classics, 2005)

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Artist Profiles: Mei Han

Mei Han

Mei Han is a zheng virtuoso. Presenting music deeply rooted in over two thousand years of Chinese culture, Han is transforming the zheng into a powerful tool for the contemporary international concert stage. She is a consummate performer, appeared with leading artists around the world in a multitude of musical genres from symphonic, chamber and New Music to traditional and World music, or from Creative Improvisation to electronic.

Han studied with China’s top zheng masters Zhang Yan and Gao Zicheng, and performed as a featured soloist for over ten years with the prestigious Beijing Zhan You Ensemble, the premiere ensemble of its type in China. Han went on to become a rare blend of performer and scholar with two Master’s degrees in ethnomusicology, from the Musical Researchb Institute of the Chinese Arts Academy in Beijing (1995), considered internationally the most prestigious institute for Chinese music studies, and from the University of British Columbia (2000).

Han wrote the zheng entry for the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the premiere music reference book, and has published articles in numerous music journals in both English and Chinese. Han is the director of the Chinese Music Ensemble at the University of British Columbia, founded the Chinese Ensemble at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and has lectured on Chinese music in many universities and music institutes around the world.

A dynamic performer and innovator, Han has been exploring new directions for solo zheng and unique combinations of zheng with other instruments in a contemporary experimental aesthetic. Works written for, and premiered by, Han include the world’s first work for zheng and harpsichord by Janet Danielson performed at the Open Ears Festival 2005; the first work for zheng and string quartet by John Oliver, premiered at the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival 2004 with the Borealis String Quartet; and the first original zheng concerto by Dr. John Sharpley, performed with the China Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing, 2003.

A commanding virtuoso, Han regularly performs challenging new works by contemporary international composers including compositions by Minoru Miki, Yuji Takahashi, and Barry Truax amongst others.

Han’s career spans Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and North America. Her performance highlights include the Kennedy Centre and the Smithsonian Institutions (with Orchid Ensemble). Together with Raine-Reusch, they toured to prestigious venues in Australia (WOMAD), China, Czech Republic, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore (WOMAD), and South Africa.

As an accomplished improviser, Han has performed at major international jazz and experimental music festivals, including the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Atlantic Jazz Festival, International Festival de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville and the Vancouver New Music Festival.

Han’s first solo CD, Outside the Wall of traditional and contemporary works, received critical acclaim, with airplay on CBC (Canada), BBC (Great Britain), and ABC (Australia). Her collaboration with composer and multi-instrumentalist Randy Raine-Reusch on Distant Wind for zheng duet, and Road to Kashgar with the Orchid Ensemble were nominated for Juno Awards (Best Global).

Han recorded Ume with piano luminary Paul Plimley, creating a rich and original musical language in contemporary jazz aesthetic.

Mei Han was one of the members of Vancouver-based Chinagrass ensemble Red Chamber.

In 2016, Mei Han moved to Tennessee (USA) to direct the Center for Chinese Music and Culture at Middle Tennessee State University.

Discography:

Outside the Wall

Distant Wind, with Randy Raine-Reusch

Road to Kashgar, with the Orchid Ensemble

Ume, with Paul Plimley

Redgrass, with Red Chamber (Za Discs, 2009)

Gathering (Asza Discs ZAN17, 2014)

Classical & Contemporary Chinese Music (ARC Music, 2016)

Web site: www.mei-han.com

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Artist Profiles: May Nasr

May Nasr

A native of Lebanon, May Nasr has been influenced by the songs of the great Fairuz, Zaki Nassif, Ahmad Kaabour, Marcel Khalife, Julia Boutros.

In her early singing career, May was mentored by the renowned sound engineer Farid Abul Kheir, and trained by the great Lebanese singer Zaki Nassif as well as Badia Sabra Haddad, the former voice teacher of Fairuz.

A voice for freedom, justice, equality, humanity and love, May often focuses on the beauty of the Lebanese people in her music, using songs of peace, love and resilience to inspire positive change in local and global Arab communities. A strong voice for social justice as well, Nasr helps support local charities as well as global organizations through the proceeds of her many popular concerts.

She has performed to ecstatic audiences throughout the Middle East and the world. Her first CD, Lil Ghaly, was released in November 2008 and her second recording, Written in Water, with Lourdes Pérez, was released in 2010.

May sings with her guitar, her heart and the beautiful voice with which she has been blessed.” – Zaki Nassif

Discography

* Lil Ghaly (2008)
* Written in Water (2010)
* Te llamo (2012)

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Artist Profiles: Mathew Ngau Jau

Mathew Ngau Jau (right) with Lan-e Tuyang – Photo by Suchens.com for Sarawak Tourism Board

Mathew Ngau Jau is a proficient sape (Sarawakian lute) musician, who learned how to play the instrument during his childhood at Long Semiyang, Ulu Baram in Sarawak (Malaysia). After his school education, and having pursued a career in teaching, Ngau Jau came under the guidance of the late Tusau Padan, a master sape musician and artist.

Ngau Jau formed the traditional group Lan-e Tuyang (meaning among friends) together with his late uncle Uchau Bilung.

Since the death of Tusau Padan, Matthew has become the leading promoter of the art of sape music and also the art of painting Kenyah traditional motifs on bark. He is also an expert in the Orang-Ulu warrior dance and is a skilled blow-pipe exponent. Combining all these skills, Mathew is much sought after to promote the traditional arts of Sarawak.

With Lan-e Tuyang, Ngau Jau has performed at numerous venues throughout the globe as well as tourism promotions in Europe, Australia and Asia.

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