Fifth Annual globalFEST Brings Twelve World Music Acts to Influential New York Showcase

New York (NY), USA – The fifth annual globalFEST will be held on Sunday, January 13, 2008, starting at 7 pm on three stages at Webster Hall (125 East 11th Street, New York City). The festival has become a leading showcase of global music, demonstrating the multiplicity of sounds and performance contexts that fall under the ‘world music’ label.
 "globalFEST not only brings some of the world’s greatest artists to New York City each January to create an incredible one-night party, but the reverberations from the event also echo throughout North America for years following the event, as artistic directors from festivals, performing arts centers, and nightclubs are inspired to invite the featured artists to perform in venues across the continent," explains Bill Bragin of The Public Theater, who along with Maure Aronson of Boston’s World Music, Inc., and Isabel Soffer of World Music Institute, founded the festival. “There are a lot of factors in putting together the globalFEST line-up each year, but thanks to the great public support for the festival, which now has a strong following, we were able to make some exciting choices for programming this year” says Soffer. "Get ready for some musical revelations from unexpected places!” The Bowery Presents is an associate producer this year for the second time.While some performers are flame keepers for endangered traditions, others have created noteworthy hybrids on the edge of the current globalized era. Compelling patterns emerge from the festival roster each year, and this year’s festival promises to surprise even the most die-hard of globalFEST fans.

A third of this year’s performers are playing in the US for the first time at globalFEST. Named after a popular Hungarian cartoon character, Little Cow debuts their Hungarian Gypsy-tinged ska/rock/funk, creating sonic atmospheres ranging from melancholic to carnivalesque. Tuareg rockers Toumast follow in the footsteps of Tinariwen but with a harder edge to their desert blues songs of revolution and ululation.

Two other groups making their US debut emphasize a global trend that returns rhythm to the musical spotlight. Lo Còr de la Plana, an all-male hand-clappin’, foot-stompin’ polyphonic vocal ensemble from Marseilles, takes a style usually performed in churches and inserts a dose of rhythmical guts, with influences from Bartók to Massilia Sound System. Korea’s drumming ensemble Dulsori (literally, ‘wild beat’) rekindles the spirit of ancient festivals and is certain to dazzle fans familiar with the similar Japanese taiko tradition.

The percussion theme continues with Nation Beat, a New York City band that merges Brazil’s maracatu drums, New Orleans’ second line rhythms and funk, and Appalachian bluegrass. Fallou Dieng & Le DLC—a band named after the club run by Dieng’s mentor/musical forebear Youssou N’Dour —showcases hot mbalax beats and the leading voice of Senegal’s next generation. Newgrass innovators Crooked Still prove that rock energy can mix with old-time, acoustic mountain soul—without any percussion at all. Now performing as a quintet, this successful band features the ethereal vocals of Irish-American Aoife O’Donovan and the virtuosic banjo-picking of Bruce Springsteen sideman Greg Liszt.

The squeezebox falls into the spotlight with two performers. Master accordionist Chango Spasiuk  plays Argentina’s chamamé style so beautifully listeners forget they are hearing an instrument that was maligned in a prior era. The four-piece NYC-meets-Mexico alt-rock folkloristas Pistolera features women on guitar/vocals, accordion, and drums, and pack enough punch to get audiences on their feet.

The line up is rounded out with three artists rarely heard in New York. The recently re-discovered 84-year-old Dominican son maestro Puerto Plata is the torchbearer of an old sound harkening back to the days before bachata or merengue. The fingers of French Gypsy jazz string virtuosi Samarabalouf fly melodically and gracefully across their fretboards. Underground visionary vocalist Vinicio Capossela is one of the most theatrically eccentric artists out of Italy, akin to Tom Waits crossed with Roberto Begnini, and his songs evoke worlds inhabited by demons, shadows, and lost souls, all with a sly wink and sense of delight.

Not only has the event broadened and deepened the participants’ appreciation for the enormous breadth of global music, it has opened new opportunities for international musicians in the performing arts field. Scheduled to coincide with the annual Arts Presenters conference , globalFEST has introduced upcoming stars to thousands of concert presenters and the general public.

It would take a dozen flights, weeks living out of hotels, and countless nights spent searching the globe to get as much exposure to such varied and impressive talent as you get in one night at globalFEST,” says Jesse Kumagai, Director of Programming at Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. Washington, DC’s Travis Bowerman agrees. “Besides being one of the more fun and eclectic evenings that you can have at the conference, every year I’ve encountered an artist that has made me think, ‘I saw them when…’ and then the artist appears on everyone’s calendar and season,” says Bowerman who manages Cultural Development Corporation. “It may seem like a bit of a hunt but the overall quality of the artists is impressive and globalFEST has always included some undiscovered treasures that I’ve been delighted to include in my programming.”

For the fifth year in a row, globalFEST is sponsored by The Cultural Services of the French Embassy, with additional support from the French Music Export Office and Cultures France. In addition to providing financial support for the festival, artists who have French productions, regardless of their national origin, are eligible for subsidies to support their travel to participate in globalFEST. "globalFEST has fully established itself as a gateway to the world, creating new opportunities for culturally diverse performers and audiences alike," notes Emmanuel Morlet, Music Attaché at the French Embassy.

Dulsori ‘s performance is presented with support from Korean Cultural Service NY, Korea Arts Management, and the Korean Ministry of Culture. Visa services for globalFEST have been provided by Tamizdat, a nonprofit committed to fostering the free exchange of information and ideas between artists, audiences, and industries, and across cultures. Promotional support provided by The Onion.

Tickets are available now from or +1-866-448-7849, but promoters caution music lovers to buy early: Prior globalFEST shows have sold out in advance.

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Author: World Music Central News Department

World music news from the editors at World Music Central