Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Namgar

Namgar

Singer Namgar Ayushievna Lhasaranova is the leader of the band and her name was used to call the entire group. She grew up in a Buryat family in the tiny village of Kunkur near the border crossing of Russia, Mongolia, and China. She comes from a long family line of shamans. The other original members of the Moscow-based band are Jipo (Eugene Zolotaryov), Namgar’s husband, who comes from Ulan-Ude, Buryatia, and plays the chanza lute; Altay (Altangerel Khishigtogtokh), a young Mongolian musician who plays the morin huur (horse-head fiddle); and Urna (Urantugs Jamiyan), a Mongolian woman from Uliastai, Mongolia, who plays yataga, an ancient zither

In the heart of Siberia, under bottomless blue sky, Namgar’s songs were born. She mastered the mysteries of the great wide open and the voices of spirits of mountains and forests. She loves the melodies sung by her grandmother and her father and desires to maintain the tradition that is becoming extinct. Namgar sings long songs and yokhor dance tunes, uliger legends of mighty champions, precise arrows, and swift horses, just as they were sung ages ago, with arrangements that make her music appealing to world music fans.

The Hori Buryat tribes to which Namgar belongs, historically were supporters of Genghis Khan and important commanders of the Mongol Invasion. Their songs and dances date back to the glorious times of the Mongolian Empire, preserving many genres and songs that became extinct in the other parts of Mongolian world.

Buryats live in the Russian Federation, where it borders with Mongolia and Manchuria. Buddhism, Shamanism, and the natural beauty of South Siberia contributed to their tradition. They share a lot of musical themes with their relatives, the Mongolians, with a special attention to dance tunes that became extinct in Mongolia.

The group made their first appearance on the international stage at Riddu Riddu Festival in Norway in 2002, along with Mari Boine and a bunch of other world music celebrities.

In October 2003, Namgar released their first official CD, titled “Hatar” (round dance). It features first ever collection of Buryat all-time favorites that are quite distinct and neatly arranged. It was a group of enthusiastic young people from Moscow who started a label called Sketis Music, specializing in world music, who gave the opportunity to the group to record their album, because they were sure this music was fantastic. The album cover was designed by Dashi Namdakov, the most prominent young artist among the Buryats.

In June 2006, the arranger and producer Leonid Vorobyev joined the group and added to authentic sound of the group a modern electronic, rock and jazz elements.

Discography

Hatar (Sketis Music, 2003)
Nomad (2008)

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Artist Profiles: La Excelencia

La Excelencia – Photo by Paul Nart

La Excelencia was founded by Julian Silva and Jose Vazquez-Cofresi who in 2005 formed the orchestra in New York City. The orchestra was created with the intention to bring a new outlook to salsa music by being hip, young, writing about social issues, and breaking the mold yet not losing the true roots of salsa.

The hard life of the barrio is reflected in La Excelencia’s music through their hardcore salsa sounds known as “salsa dura”. The music of La Excelencia has been referred to as fresh, original, danceable, contagious, and bringing social awareness to all.

In 2006 La Excelencia released their primary project ‘Salsa Con Conciencia’ to critical acclaim.

Discography

* Salsa con Conciencia (Handle with Care Productions, 2006)
* Mi Tumbao Social (2009)
* Ecos Del Barrio (2012)

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Artist Profiles: La cumbiamba eNeYé

La cumbiamba eNeYé

La cumbiamba eNeYé is an ensemble that performs concerts and workshops with traditional instruments from the African Diaspora in Colombia, as well as indigenous and European instruments and influences. All these are mixed together in the traditional musical styles that developed throughout the colonial era, and continue to evolve. “eNeYé” has the range of versatility to perform from a quintet format, for reduced space events; up to a 10-piece band format for large events.

La cumbiamba eNeYé was created in the summer of 2000 with a group of skilled musicians who share an enthusiasm for investigating, performing and advancing musical expressions emanating from the combination of African, Indigenous, and European cultural contributions in the Americas.

Initially, La cumbiamba eNeYé began performing a repertoire of cumbia related rhythms outdoors in different public areas of New York City. Given these circumstances, “Eneyé” adopted its denomination of ‘cumbiamba’ from the cultural vocabulary of the northwestern Caribbean coast in South America. In Colombia, ‘cumbiamba’ is a familiar word, which carries the meaning of an outdoors celebration with live cumbia music, or the bands that perform in such events. La cumbiamba eNeYé evokes this lively atmosphere with every performance, and has also extended them into different cultural venues throughout the city and beyond.

La cumbiamba eNeYé’s musical work and development is shaped by traditional styles that emanate from the popular coastal traditions in which music is just one of the various artistic manifestations. The group takes coastal music as a departing point and source of material not only because of the musical background of some of the members, but because coastal traditions in Colombia, as in other regions of the Caribbean are inexhaustible fountains of artistic traditions. In Colombia having two different coastal regions, Atlantic and Pacific, which have led to distinct cultural traditions, doubles this situation.

La cumbiamba eNeYé’s approach to music is investigative. However, from the styles, genres, rhythms, and melodies explored, the group is inspired to create new arrangements and even entirely new compositions, which although traditional influenced, may have eclectic characteristics in texture, harmony or rhythm. This aspect of La cumbiamba eNeYé can be seen as the result of being a New York born and based group, where interactions and continuous contact with musicians from different places around the world generates new possibilities.

Since its beginnings, La cumbiamba eNeYé has been working from a handful of traditional kinds styles present in Colombia. Some of these musical styles are:
Gaitas y Tambores, Banda Pelayera, Terapia or Champeta, Conjunto de marimba, and Chirimía.

Discography

Marioneta (Chonta Records, 2006)

Web sites: http://www.lacumbiambaeneye.com

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Artist Profiles: La Chicana

La Chicana in 2004

La Chicana was formed in the first months of 1996 by Dolores Solá, Acho Estol and Juan Valverde with the clear intention of producing tango music with a rougher edge. They favor the ‘canyengue’ or orillero street rhythms and humorous melodrama of early tango as opposed to more solemn later flavors. They truly believe that the essence of tango lies in its 1920s spirit of rebellion and spontaneity witch puts it ideologically closer to rock music than to the orchestral forms that popularized it in the world since the 1940s.

La Chicana has performed at numerous festivals and special events throughout the world. In 1997 they performed routinely in Buenos Aires while working on their first CD, Ayer hoy era mañana, out in early 1998, combining revisited classics: tango, milonga, candombe- with their own unreleased songs.

They were given the UNESCO International Merit Award atn the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires. During the first half of the year 2000 La Chicana performed extensively in Buenos Aires, recorded their second album and did a tour of Spain that included six cities. Because of the success they were invited to present their second CD with a similar tour in February 2001. Back in Buenos Aires they performed many shows promoting the album with many of the guests that appear in it, and TV and radio appearances.

During 2001 La Chicana had numerous engagements in Buenos Aires – Notorious, Ghandi, Tobago, T. Tasso – and they began recording their third CD. In December their second CD “Un giro extraño” was voted by Leon Gieco as album of the year in the music section of newspaper “Pagina 12”. They started recording sessions for their third CD.

In early 2003 La Chicana produced their third album Tango agazapado and they finished shooting for the documentary feature: “Tango: Un giro extraño” directed by Mercedes Garcia Guevara.

La Chicana

The short subject film “El Elegante” was finished in Los Angeles. Produced by Kalmia Pictures and 20th Century Fox it is totally scored by Acho Estol with music performed by La Chicana.

On August 29th La Chicana presented Tango agazapado at ND Ateneo, a theater in Buenos Aires. During the rest of 2003 they received excellent press reviews for this record.

In early 2004 they received the prestigious “Carlos Gardel Award” for Tango agazapado in the “Best New Tango” category.

Although the lineup has changed several times, the group is led by vocalist Dolores Solá and guitarist and composer Acho Estol.

 

Discography

* Ayer Hoy Era Mañana (1997)
* Un Giro Extraño (2000)
* Tango agazapado (2006)
* Revolución o picnic (2011)
* Antihéroes y tumbas (2015)
* La Pampa Grande (2016)

Website: www.lachicanatango.com

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Artist Profiles: Namgar Ayushievna Lhasaranova

Namgar Ayushievna Lhasaranova

Namgar Ayushievna Lhasaranova grew up in a Buryat family in the tiny village of Kunkur near the border crossing of Russia, Mongolia, and China. She comes from a long family line of shamans that preserved the Buryat musical tradition. She started performing traditional Buryat music on stage in mid-1980s. Since that time, Namgar has performed solo in France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway, and the USA, singing traditional songs and playing the zither yataga.

Namgar sings long songs and yokhor dance tunes, uliger legends of mighty champions, precise arrows, and swift horses, just as they were sung ages ago, with arrangements that make her music appealing to world music fans.

The Hori Buryat tribes to which Namgar belongs, historically were supporters of Genghis Khan and important commanders of the Mongol Invasion. Their songs and dances date back to the glorious times of the Mongolian Empire, preserving many genres and songs that became extinct in the other parts of Mongolian world.

In 1999, 2000, and 2001 she took part in the Norwegian world music festival Riddu-Riddu where she shared the stage with Jerry Alfred, Bolot Bairyshev, Mari Boine, Chirgilchin, Anneli Drecker, Lucie Idlout, Derek Miller, Sabjilar, Pamyua and other prominent native and world music artists.

She leads her own band called Namgar.

Discography

Hatar (Sketis Music, 2003)
Nomad (2008)

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Artist Profiles: Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters – Got My Mojo Working

Born in Issaquena County, Mississippi as McKinley Morganfield in 1913,Artist Profiles: Muddy Waters was deeply rooted in the Mississippi Delta blues. He got his nickname as a result of a childhood predilection for ‘playing in the muddy waters.’

He started playing harmonica at nine, but later switched over to the guitar. The teenaged, tractor driver Muddy Waters spent his free time absorbing the music scene of Clarksdale, Mississippi. There, he learned from two of Mississippi’s iconic bluesmen, Son House and Robert Johnson.

Muddy soon joined up with Silas Green and his traveling show, before plying his guitar in St. Louis and finally returning home. It was back in Mississippi that Muddy met with John and Alan Lomax, where he performed songs for the pair and their folk recordings for the Library of Congress recordings.

Muddy made two extraordinary decisions at that point; he joined many making the great migration north to Chicago in search for factory work and he plugged his guitar. Muddy plugged his guitar into an amplifier to be heard over the clattering masses of the Chicago club scene and it’s that sound that changed blues music forever.

Electrified blues soon spread to the streets of Chicago and Muddy found club work and started recording for Columbia and Aristocrat (later to become Chess Records).

Muddy Waters inspired numerous blues and rock musicians, including Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray, Peter Green, and the Rolling Stones.

Muddy Waters discography is quite extensive. The following boxed sets include some of his most iconic recordings: Original Album Classics: Hard Again / I’m Ready / King Bee; The Chess Box: Muddy Waters; Chess Singles Collection – Muddy Waters; and King of Chicago Blues; and Got My Mojo Working.

Muddy Waters died April 30, 1983.

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Artist Profiles: Mohd Kamrulbahri Hussin

Mohd Kamrulbahri Hussin – Photo © Suchens.com for Sarawak Tourism Board

Multi-instrumentalist Mohd Kamrulbahri Hussin (a.k.a. Kamrul) is the leader of Malaysian world music band Asika. As the head of Asika, Kamrul has performed as a multi-instrumentalist, composer and music director in all manner of professional productions nationally and overseas. His performances include traditional and modern music. Major in percussion, Kamrul is a remarkable percussionist and traditional music artist. Combined with his style and skill, Kamrul has become one the leading Malaysian percussionists.

His skill, dedication and passion especially with traditional percussion has led to international tours, with performances in New York, Paris, London, Toronto and other. Kamrul also has a strong passion on Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppet). Graduated in traditional and western percussion at National Arts Culture and Heritage Academy (ASWARA). Kamrul has been awarded for Best Arts Motivator from National University of Malaysia in 2002.

Instruments – gendang, rebana, serunai, conga, jembe, darbuka, vocals, rebab and more.

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Artist Profiles: Artist Profiles: Mohd Fuad Mohammad

Mohd Fuad Mohammad – © Suchens.com for Sarawak Tourism Board

Pianist and accordionist Mohd Fuad has graduated from National Arts Culture and Heritage Academy (ASWARA). He is currently a sessionist for many traditional and modern music performances.

He is a talented young composer in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and has been involved in performances at Bangsawan (Malay Theatre Musical) and Shadow Puppet performances in New York.

He is a member of Malaysian world music band Asika.

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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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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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