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Fusion without confusion – how world music bands blend multiple influences

The 19th Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF) in Kuching, Sarawak (Malaysia), regarded as one of the Top 25 music festivals by Songlines magazine, was once again a three-day delight of afternoon workshops, evening performances and interactive discussion between media and musicians each morning.

See also my articles on the media meets at previous RWMF editions: How world music bands build collective vision, promote indigenous culture and yet adapt to changing times (2015), World music bands address the importance of heritage, messages and innovation (2014) and World music bands address their role in social change, cultural preservation and creativity (2013).

The 2016 lineup featured 17 international and 8 Malaysian groups. The overseas bands included Auli (Latvia), Broukar (Syria), Derek Gripper (South Africa), Dol Arastra Bengkulu (Indonesia), Dya Singh (Australia/Malaysia), Krar Collective (Ethiopia), Lan Dieu Viet (Vietnam), Naygayiw Gigi (Australia), Nukariik (Canada), Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band (Ghana), Shanren (China), Stelios Petrakis Quartet (Greece), Teada (Ireland), Vassvik (Norway), Violons Barbares (Bulgaria, Mongolia, France), and Vocal Sampling (Cuba).  The Malaysian lineup consisted of Alena Murang, Gendang Melayu Sri Buana, Mathew Ngau, Sape’ Sarawak, The Thunder Beats of Nanyang Wushu Drums, Unique Arts Academy, and 1Drum.

During media interactions over three days, and in separate interviews, members of these 25 bands described their careers, instruments, collaborations, socio-political contexts and musical messages – along with their sense of humor.

The ‘4Es’ – Entertainment, Empathy, Education, Empowerment

I asked the bands how they mix entertainment in their music along with serious messages that build empathy for social causes and educate audiences about different cultures.

In Inuit culture, throat singing is a form of entertainment as well as culture,” explained Kathy and Karin Kettler of Inuit duo Nukariik from Canada. “We are the indigenous Sami people. Our joik music comes from ritual activity. It is serious and fun at the same time,” agreed Torgeir Vassvik from northern Norway.

Shanren
Shanren

In our case, entertainment and message are wrapped in one. In the Yunnan region, music, dance and alcohol are integrated,” joked the members of folk-rock band Shanren from China. The region has 26 ethnic groups with very diverse cultures. “We play rock as well as world music. There is a risk of our local music dying out,” they said.

I want to be the voice of the poor people in my country and speak for them,” said Sambaton Dorvil, lead singer of Haitian voodoo band Chouk Bwa Libete.

Indonesian percussion troupe Dol Arastra Bengkulu said they play in rituals celebrating heroism, but also teach young people to play anywhere. Inter-ethnic group Violons Barbares described how they perform in festivals, concert halls, and clubs, as well as immigrant community centers and events in their new countries.

Our music is used in a documentary, and will also be in a game on AppleTV,” said the bagpipe and drum music group Auli from Latvia.

In addition to performances, sape player Alena Murang from Sarawak speaks at events such as TEDx KL, plays on TV, and conducts workshops in schools in Western Malaysia where the sape is not very well known as an indigenous instrument.

Our tradition is strong – and strict! I feel happiest when I get respect from my local tradition and the international community,” said Stelios Petrakis, founder of the Greek band Stelios Petrakis Quartet. “We get requests even at 5 in the morning after all-night performances,” he joked.

In some traditional music communities, creativity and deviation are not respected. I don’t see it as a compromise, I see it as a challenge and opportunity to create new music for new audiences,” Petrakis said.

When we do a capella, we have more freedom and variation,” said Vocal Sampling, a Latin music a capella group from Cuba.

An interesting category of world music artists consists of those who have immigrated to other countries, or are children of immigrants, or are of mixed parentage. Issues of tradition and creative freedom play out differently in their case.

We play collaborative music so we are free from the ‘jail’ of some strict traditions,” explained the members of Violons Barbares, a trio with musicians from Mongolia, Bulgaria and France.

Sikh hymn singer Dya Singh is of Indian origin and grew up in Malaysia – he now lives in Australia and performs along with a percussionist from Nepal. “We are truly global citizens,” said Dya Singh, and he showcased it brilliantly during a jam session where he blended a Sufi chant with Latin a capella beats.

Music and dance give us deep roots. A lot of younger generations are washing away the messages from culture,” cautioned his daughter Gimel, herself a performer at RWMF.

Rainforest World Music Festival, press conference Day 2 - Photo by Madanmohan Rao
Rainforest World Music Festival, press conference Day 2 – Photo by Madanmohan Rao

Vision, mission

Many of the bands described their vision of the world and what kind of role they see in it. “The most important contribution of world music is to help address and solve problems,” said Dya Singh. This can also be part of the role of world music festivals. “The tree-planting ceremony in the mangrove wetlands at RWMF sends out a good message about the environment,” he added.

Musicians can help raise social awareness about anything happening anywhere in the world. Musicians have to be positive and help make the world a better place,” agreed Pat Thomas of Ghana.

The role of a musician is to keep out of politics – but have a strong say about issues like the environment. Corruption is more intricate, it has always been there, it can be hard for musicians to pick one party against another,” Dya Singh explained.

The world is a complex place for anyone to understand,” agreed Vassvik of Norway. “Music is what comes out when we don’t have more words to express or explain things; it goes deeper,” he said.

Missionaries used to ban throat singing in Canada (‘kill the Indian in the child’); we preserve it now and teach it,” said Kathy and Karin Kettler of Nukariik. “We will continue to promote Sabah tradition, the music will not stop!” said Band Girls LKNS from Malaysia.

I sometimes wonder how much fossil fuel we burn when we travel around the world playing at festivals!” joked guitarist Derek Gripper of South Africa, commenting on the environmental impact of travel.

Musicians have to first remind us of what it means to be human, find commonalities and celebrate diversity,” he said. “Even if music can’t ‘achieve’ anything, we can have fun!” he quipped.

For endangered cultures, even the act of performance is a statement, according to Naygayiw Gigi, the dance troupe from Queensland, Australia, who promote the clan cultures from the Torres Strait region.

The Rainforest World Music Festival has helped preserve and promote local culture also,” said Jun Lin, Artistic Director, RWMF. It has instilled pride in Sarawak instruments like sape and built connections to promote them overseas as well. Given the international turmoil, the festival has also increased awareness and empathy about refugees, eg. by inviting the band Broukar whose members are Syrian refugees.

Careers

An interesting and humorous discussion revolved around what the artists were doing before they embarked on their musical careers, and what part-time jobs some of them have to fund their musical interests.

I used to be a management consultant and wasn’t happy! I decided I had to get out of the rat race and do what I could do for my culture and what I was happy doing,” said Alena Murang of Sarawak.

I was a pharmacist – it was nice to help people but the magic was in music!” said kanun player Taoufik Mirkhan of Broukar from Syria. “I have a pharmacist certificate and hung it up on the wall to please my mother – now I go out and play music! I also teach music, which is very important for the next generation,” he added.

I have a day job in product engineering, but folk music is my love,” said lead member Mikus Čavarts of Auli from Latvia. “In some day jobs also you don’t make much money – so just do what you love and play music!” he advised.

I studied to be a lawyer, and then gave my diploma to my mother. But it’s easy now for me to read my contracts!” joked Stelios Petrakis. “I also made instruments, I had two lives! Then I decided to make my life more crazy and do only music,” he added.

Rainforest World Music Festival, press conference Day 3 - Photo by Madanmohan Rao
Rainforest World Music Festival, press conference Day 3 – Photo by Madanmohan Rao

Fusion without confusion

I also asked the bands how they are able to create fusion without confusion – or blend different elements and forms of music in their performances without losing coherence.

There always has been fusion and confusion in music, joked Derek Gripper. Over the years, traveling musicians have introduced new elements into traditional music, eg. jugalbandi from India in some of the kora music of Africa.

There are different types of fusion, based on form, instrument and performance. “We play traditional music on contemporary instruments as well,” said Band Girls LKNS from Malaysia.

We have collaborated with hip-hop artists and even rock stars,” said Temesgen Zelekeis from the Ethiopian band Krar Collective. “We do club gigs as well, not just traditional sets. Modern interpretation is not a restriction based on elements of culture,” he said.

Our group has brought in outside influences from disco, jazz and so on over the decades; this also helps reach larger audiences,” said Pat Thomas from Ghana.

Technology continues to accelerate the interaction between different types of music. “There has been a massive change in the music of the world over the last 100 years. Flows between music around the world have always been there – it’s much faster now,” said Derek Gripper.

Musicians need to keep diversity alive without becoming homogeneous,” he cautioned. For example, some kora players are tuning their instruments to the piano – that could lead to the loss of the kora’s individuality.

Festivals like RWMF are also important because musicians from one country can play with those of other countries thanks to the collaborative workshop format and media discussions. Unfortunately, many emerging economies do not have as many festivals with as much international exposure and mixing as in the case of Western festivals.

Some musicians expressed concern about youth in their countries being more influenced by rock, hip-hop and EDM than local traditions. “Every new generation wants new music also, take it like it is,” advised Pat Thomas.

This year I will focus on preserving our old traditions with young musicians,” said Mathew Ngau of Sarawak. Some old taboos are now being tackled as well; it used to be a taboo for women to play the sape, but now girls are playing it.

There were taboos on women playing didgeridoo also, but that should not be the case anymore,” added Dya Singh.

Traditional instruments and dances

The artists also described some of the traditional instruments they brought along – and even made themselves, in some cases. Matthew Ngau said he makes his own sape, and has developed knowledge of local wood types, some of which are rare now because of deforestation. String materials like creepers are sometimes substituted with steel. Stelios Petrakis from Crete also makes the instruments for his band.

We have modified some traditional instruments to make them easier for stage performances and travel,” said members of the group Shanren from China.

The krar is over a thousand years old as an instrument, and we have also modified it in electric style now,” said Temesgen Zelekeis of the Krar Collective.

Haitian band Chouk Bwa Libète uses drums from Benin and Congo. Other traditional instruments featured were the Sabah gong, thappu frame drum from India, Vietnamese dan bau monochord and trung bamboo xylophone, Middle Eastern kanun, and Bulgarian gaduka (three-string violin).

We brought along our throats!” joked the throat singers of Nukariik, a sentiment strongly echoed by Cuban a cappella band Vocal Sampling!

Respect the instrument and the craftsman,” said Dya Singh, strongly disapproving of breaking of instruments by some rock bands. “My flutist sleeps with his flutes if his wife is not around! My tabla player uses his blanket to keep the tabla warm on cold nights, rather than for himself. Smashing musical instruments is sacrilege. My father once slapped me in public because I stepped over an instrument,” he explained.

Traditional dances were also featured in some of the performances, such as joget (Malaysia) and dervish (Syria); the dancers of (Aus) wore dazzling costumes as well. Everyone asks our Dervish Dancer how he does not get dizzy even after 15 minutes of twirling!” joked Broukar.

The Mongolian throat-singing also surprises many new audiences, as well as the unusual combinations of three nationalities in the group Violons Barbares (Mongolia, Bulgaria, and France).

I interpret the ‘classical’ music of Africa, such as the kora stars,” said South African guitarist Derek Gripper, who has released a series of award-winning albums.

We are losing our culture rapidly, it is important to pass on our language, music and dance,” said Naygayiw Gigi. “Australia has two indigenous peoples: near the centre and near the coast. We need to explain this to Australians as well!” they joked.

Pat Thomas blends traditional instruments like the cowbell along with the trumpet in their highlife music. “We turn emotions around – ‘happy’ music about sadness, ‘sad’ music about happiness!” he joked.

Irish traditional folk music plays a huge part in our lives, particularly in rural areas. Freedom, fun and entertainment have been a part of our music – and recently in bars and pubs too,” said fiddler ace Oisín Mac Diarmada of Irish band Teada.

The meaning of success

I asked the bands how they defined ‘success’ for themselves as musicians, eg. in terms of more albums, concerts, money, or pursuit of an inner journey.

Success is keeping our music group together over many years, while also evolving and collaborating with others,” said Oisín Mac Diarmada Teada; their band has been together for 15 years.

Success is to keep playing!” said Abhisheg M. of Unique Arts Academy of Malaysia. Many musicians start playing at very young ages, when they may not have clear definitions of what success could be. “Music is for my inner peace; success is remaining happy, that is good enough,” Abhisheg added.

Fame and recognition are important for us because it inspires our next generation. It is success if our children appreciate our culture and dance – not just hip-hop,” said members of Naygayiw Gigi.

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Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil Headliners at the Opening Ceremony of Rio Olympics

Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil -  Photo by Marcos Hermes
Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil – Photo by Marcos Hermes

Acclaimed Brazilian singers, songwriters, and guitarists Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil are set to perform at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro at the Maracanã Stadium today, Friday, August 5. The ceremony will be broadcast around the world and can be seen in the United States on NBC starting at 7:30 p.m. ET and in Canada on the CBC starting at 7:00 p.m. ET. The Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony is expected to last about three hours, culminating with the lighting of the Olympic Pyre.

Nonesuch Records released earlier this year Dois Amigos, Um Século de Música: Multishow Live, a live 2-disc recording from the award winning Veloso and Gil. Dois Amigos celebrates a lifelong friendship over the half-century careers of two artists who have broken cultural, social, and political barriers through music.

Caetano Veloso & Gilberto Gil - Dois Amigos, Um Século de Música: Multishow Live
Caetano Veloso & Gilberto Gil – Dois Amigos, Um Século de Música: Multishow Live

Dois Amigos, Um Século de Música: Multishow Live was recorded for television during a concert in Brazil last year, in the middle of the Dois Amigos tour.

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Maggie the Pony Helps Mamadou Kelly and Ban Kai Na

Maggie the Pony and Brehima "Youro" Cisse
Maggie the Pony and Brehima “Youro” Cisse

 

Malian blues act Mamadou Kelly and Ban Kai Na ran into problems last week during their American tour when the one string of their njarka snapped and they needed to find a replacement. The njarka is a small, one-stringed fiddle, made from a gourd and stringed with the tail-hair of a horse.

 

The njarka
The njarka

 

Maggie_Pony_njarka2

 

Fortunately, the band’s manager Christopher Nolan contacted a Hudson Valley neighbor who has a horse farm. A visit was arranged, and Maggie the Pony donated tail hairs to Brehima “Youro” Cisse, the band’s njarka master.

Mamadou Kelly’s albums include Djamila and Adibar.

 

Mamadou Kelly and Ban Kai Na Remaining Tour Dates:

July 27 Joe’s Pub, Manhattan NY
July 29 BSP, Kingston NY
Aug 5 Kennedy Center, Washington DC
Aug 6 Balliceaux, Richmond VA
Aug 7 Bossa Bistro, Washington DC
Aug 10 Union Pool, Brooklyn NY

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Turkish Musician Kudsi Ergüner Designated UNESCO Artist for Peace

On July 10, 2016 the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, namedd Turkish musician Kudsi Ergüner, UNESCO Artist for Peace, at a ceremony held at the Congress Center in Istanbul (Turkey) following the opening ceremony of the 40th session of the World Heritage Committee, which ends on July 20.

Kudsi Ergüner is appointed in recognition of his efforts to promote the universal values of music, an essential instrument of dialog between cultures, for his contribution to the protection of musical heritage, his support for the International Decade of the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022) and his firm commitment to the ideals of the Organization.

During the ceremony, Director General Irina paid tribute to Mr. Ergüner’s efforts throughout his career to keep alive the musical heritage of his country. “Your life and work have been guided by a profound passion to bring the past to life, to share the wisdom and beauty of traditions, to pass their messages of peace and dialogue to current and future generations, to share the depth of Mevlevi Sufi music, building on Persian and Turkish traditions, mixing this with poetry, literature and living arts across the region,” she expressed.

Born in Turkey in 1952, Kudsi Ergüner is a ney (reed flute) player, composer, musicologist, teacher, author and translator. Trained by his father, Ulvi Ergüner, the last great master of the ney flute, he has given concerts throughout the world and helped revive traditional musical trends. His collaborations with prestigious artists such as Peter Gabriel, Maurice Béjart, Peter Brook and Didier Lockwood helped to spread this music to Western audiences.

As a UNESCO Artist for Peace, Mr. Ergüner aims to work for the updating of the forgotten musical heritage. “I’m an artist but also a man of action and I hope to share my actions in the framework of UNESCO alongside other Artists for Peace,” he declared.

UNESCO Artists for Peace are internationally renowned personalities who use their influence, charisma and prestige to promote the message and UNESCO programs. UNESCO is working with them to increase public awareness regarding key development issues and the role of the Organization in these areas.

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WOMEX 2016 Announces First Set of Showcases

Maia Barouh - Photo by Audric Larose
Maia Barouh – Photo by Audric Larose

World Music Expo, WOMEX, announced this morning the first set of artists that will showcase at WOMEX 2016 October in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The high profile gathering of world music industry professionals will take place October 19 – 23, 2016.

The 23 acts announced features musicians from 28 countries, starting with the musical researchers of Radio Cos from the host region Galicia (Spain), expand to global music talent from five continents who will make WOMEX the platform for their international breakthrough. The line-up also includes some well-known artists such as Brazilian Bixiga 70 or Noura Mint Seymali from Mauritania who will be presenting their latest setup to the expected 2,500 delegates.

The 23 WOMEX Showcase acts announced so far are:

Bargou 08 (Tunisia/Belgium)
Bixiga 70 (Brazil)
Black String (South Korea)
C4 Trio (Venezuela)
Delgres (Guadeloupe/France)
Dudu Tassa & The Kuwaitis (Israel)
Gisela João (Portugal)
Gulzoda (Uzbekistan)
Maïa Barouh (Japan/UK)
New York Gypsy All Stars (Macedonia/Turkey/Greece/USA)
Noura Mint Seymali (Mauritania)
Okra Playground (Finland)
Oligarkh (Russia)
Ponk (Czech Republic)
Puerto Candelaria (Colombia)
Radio Cos (Spain)
The East Pointers (Canada)
Throes + The Shine (Angola/Portugal)
Trad.Attack! (Estonia)
Trio Da Kali (Mali)
Tulegur (China)
United Vibrations (UK)
Vassvik (Norway)

More showcase artists, as well as additional film and conference program will be announced in the following weeks.

more at http://www.womex.com

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Labyrinth Musical Workshop in Crete Announces Summer Seminar Program 2016

Labyrinth Musical Workshop, one of the most respected series of seminars and master classes in Europe, has announced its Summer Seminar Program 2016. The workshops target musicians of all levels who wish to study the modal musical traditions of the world.

Labyrinth is located in Crete (Greece) in the picturesque mountain village Houdetsi 20 kms from the capital city of Heraklion.

In addition to helping students learn the necessary technical and theoretical skills of each musical idiom, the seminars and master-classes encourage students to come closer to the spirit of the tradition they are studying, and to eventually enter into this world where musical language is just one of many other intertwining elements.

Throughout the seminars, teachers and students become part of one big “parea” (company in Greek). Aside from the time spend in the classes, teachers and students play music together, eat together, talk about matters of common interest, share stories etc.

Summer Seminar Program 2016

June 13-18, 2016

Efrén López – Music Group, An introduction to Modal Music.

June 20-25, 2016

Efrén López – Hurdy Gurdy (zanfona)

Giorgis Manolaki – Bouzouki

Ross Daly – The structure & phrasing of Makams

June 27- July 2, 2016

Ido Segal – Improvisation in North Indian classical music

Ciro Montanari – Tabla and the rhythmic cycles of North India

Giorgis Xylouris – A journey into Cretan music

July 4-9, 2016

Evgenios Voulgaris – Yayli Tanbur & Makam

Murat Aydemir – Tanbur Through The Ages

Patrizia Bovi / Peppe Frana – Medieval Music

Pavlos Spyropoulos/Theodora Athanasiou – Accompaniment in modal music

July 11-16, 2016

Martha Mavroidi – Motif & Rhythm

Senih Űndeğer – Turkish style violin

Muhittin Kemal Temel – Ali Ufki, Dimitri Kantemir and 17th century Ottoman Music

Manos Ahalinotopoulos – Modal music in the world of the Greek clarinet

July 18-23, 2016

Tigran Aleksanyan – Armenian Duduκ

George Papaioannou – Violin 2nd Part

Uğur Önür – The music & instruments of the nomads of South West Anatolia

Yiorgos Mavromanolakis – Oud for less advanced students

July 25-30, 2016

Kourosh Ghazvineh – Kurdish Makam with Tanbur

Arslan Hazreti – Kamancha

Ivan Varimezov – Gaida, Balkan rhythms and repertoire

Tzvetanka Varimezova – Bulgarian choral singing

August 1-6, 2016

Hooshang Farahani – Iranian Tar & Radif

Daud Khan Sadozai – Afghan rabab

Periklis Papapetropoulos – CİHAN TÜRKOĞLU- Saz

Djamshid & Bijan Chemirani – Τhe poetry of rhythm

August 8-13, 2016

Yurdal Tokcan- Turkish Oud (Master Class)

Göksel Baktagir – Kanun

Eleonore Billy – Nyckelharpa

Christos Barbas – Music Group: The Instrument as a Voice

August 15-20, 2016

Ahmet Erdoğdular – Classical Ottoman Singing

Ömer Erdoğdular – Ney

Derya Türkan – Kemençe

Periklis Papapetropoulos – Lavta

August 22-27, 2016

Ross Daly – Modal composition

Kelly Thoma – Lyra with sympathetic strings

George Papaioannou – Violin 1st part

Adel Sαlameh – Arabic Oud

August 29- September 3, 2016

Zohar Fresco – Frame Drums (Master Class)

Harris Laμbrakis – Rhythmic improvisation

Vagelis Karipis – Percussion in Greek tradition, Rhythms & Techniques

Peppe Frana – A modal perspective

Anna-Maria Hefele – Over-tone singing (Master Class)

September 5-10, 2016

Zacharis Spyridakis – Cretan Lyra

Michalis Kontaxakis – Cretan Mandolin

Giorgis Manolakis – Cretan Laouto

Fragiskos Baltzakis – Askomantoura

More information at http://www.labyrinthmusic.gr/en

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Newly Formed Cuban Orchestra, The Buena Vista All Stars Announce The Legacy Continues” World Tour

The Buena Vista All Stars
The Buena Vista All Stars

Son De Cuba Jf Management announced today that The Buena Vista All Stars will be touring this summer. The original Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club gave its last concert in 2015 and the newly formed The Buena Vista All Stars features some of its members.

The 15-piece The Buena Vista All Stars includes several original members: trumpeter Manuel “Guajiro” Mirabal, trumpeter Manuel “Guajirito” Mirabal Plasencia, vocalist Ignacio “Mazacote” Carrillo, bongosero Alberto “La Noche” Hernández and bass player and band director Pedro Pablo Gutiérrez.

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New Afro Celt Sound System Album Generates Controversy

A new album titled The Source by Afro Celt Sound System is the focus of a dispute between various members of the band. According to The Source’s publicist, “The current line-up of the band features original members including founder Simon Emmerson, N’Faly Kouyaté, Johnny Kalsi and Jamie Reid and they have also included Moussa and Mass as part of the band as they’ve been with ACSS since the second album.

There are 14 Afro Celt musicians on the new album The Source who have played with the band past, present and future. Jamie Reid has returned as their visualizer and in house artist. Griogair has joined as the new member and is a core part of the band and there are other world class musicians who join them on stage.

 

Simon Emmerson
Simon Emmerson

 

The press release continues: “Simon Emmerson believes that as the founding member of ACSS he has rights to the name and to the ACSS partnership but unfortunately, the partnership has come to an end. He is continuing to perform as ACSS because he believes he has rights to the name. He made repeated attempts to resolve the matter but due to the refusal of the others to work toward unity; it has become a matter to be decided by the Courts.

The new Afro Celt Sound System website has lots of information about the band, live shows and the new album The Source: www.afroceltsoundsystem.ORG.UK

The name of the band of The Source appears as 2016: Afro Celt Sound System. Meanwhile, World Music Central received a statement from another version of Afro Celt Sound System that states the following:

For the record, we wish to state that the soon-to-be-released album ‘The Source’, originated by departed co-founder Simon Emmerson and two other former members of this band, will never be accepted or recognised by us as a legitimate Afro Celt Sound System album.

As many are already aware, this was a recording project started in secrecy, an act that not only threatened the livelihood and careers of the remaining Afro Celt Sound System band members, but also, as we now know, has saddened and disillusioned many of our friends, fans and business associates around the world.

There is very little to celebrate about music made in such a manner.

We had no objection to Emmerson’s recording project being released under his name with the addition of “formerly of Afro Celt Sound System” or something consistent with his withdrawal from the band. Instead he has chosen to use only the band name and release his album on his own record label, ECC Records, set up with multi-millionaire Mark Constantine of Lush Cosmetics. The damage and confusion being caused by this, as well as the betrayal felt by his former colleagues and fellow musicians, could easily have been avoided had this new group been called by another name. This issue of who is entitled to the name is now being dealt with in the UK High Court.

Afro Celt Sound System has always been about creating its own original music. This is the main reason why the band has become internationally renowned, not because of any one individual. Our unique blend of musical integrity, innovation and craftsmanship has been the single most important factor behind the band’s achievements over the past two decades.

Afro Celt Sound System, James McNally and Martin Russell version
Afro Celt Sound System, James McNally and Martin Russell version

The release continues: “The remaining co-founders of the group, James McNally and Martin Russell, have been responsible for the creation of the majority of the band’s music. Without their involvement it comes as no surprise that ‘The Source’ contains non-original material – music that has already been performed and recorded numerous times by others. It is also no surprise to find this recently-formed line-up performing very little music from the back catalogue in their ongoing live shows.

We’d like to thank the distinguished previewers of this album, recent concert-goers and many others who have contacted us to show support and share their disappointment, not only in what has happened, but also with regard to what they have heard so far. It is obvious that three ex-members of the band does not Afro Celt Sound System make.

As stated, this unfortunate dispute will have to be resolved in the UK High Court where we believe that justice and truth will prevail, but whatever the final outcome of the situation, we categorically state our belief that ‘The Source’ will never merit a legitimate place alongside our previous work – music that was once made with love, honesty, respect and integrity.”

The James McNally and Martin Russell version of Afro Celt Sound System has announced the release of a new album titled Born.

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IBMA Announces World of Bluegrass 2016 Showcase Artists

Tellico
Tellico

The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) announced its Official Showcase Artists, a group of 30 committee-selected artists that will be a part of the Bluegrass Ramble during the IBMA’s World of Bluegrass events in Raleigh, North Carolina, September 27-29, 2016.

Each act will perform at least two times over the course of the three-night Ramble event, at one of five downtown Raleigh clubs plus the Raleigh Convention Center, giving industry and fans multiple opportunities to hear as much music as possible. Venues hosting Ramble artists are The Lincoln Theatre, Kings, Architect Bar, Long View Vintage Church and The Pour House.

The acts selected include:

10 String Symphony – Nashville, Tennessee
Annie Lou – Parksville, British Columbia, Canada
Bill and the Belles – Johnson City, Tennessee
Cardboard Fox – Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom
Carolina Blue – Pisgah Forest, North Carolina
Hackensaw Boys – Washington, D.C.
Hannah Shira Naiman – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
High Plains Jamboree – Austin, Texas
Hot Buttered Rum – San Geronimo, California
J2B2 (John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band) – Nashville, Tennessee
Jenni Lyn – Nashville, Tennessee
Joe K. Walsh – Portland, Maine
Kaia Kater – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Missy Raines & the New Hip – Nashville, Tennessee
Molly Tuttle Band – Nashville, Tennessee
Old Salt Union – Belleville, Illinois
Red Wine – Rapallo, Italy
Run Boy Run – Tucson, Arizona
Steep Ravine – Watsonville, California
Tellico – Asheville, North Carolina
The Andrew Collins Trio – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The Honey Dewdrops – Baltimore, Maryland
The Lil’ Smokies – Denver, Colorado
The Loose Strings Band – Galax, Virginia
The Unseen Strangers – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Tim Carter & Bang Bang – Goodlettsville, Tennessee
Town Mountain – Asheville, North Carolina
Trout Steak Revival – Denver, Colorado
Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike – Bell Buckle, Tennessee
Zoe & Cloyd – Asheville, North Carolina

All of the Official Showcase acts can be heard on the free Bluegrass Ramble 2016 compilation, found at: noisetrade.com/ibma/bluegrass-ramble-2016

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