Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), USA – A Juneteenth concert
featuring two pioneers of Blues music will celebrate America’s roots and the
distinctly American art of the Blues. The concert will be held on Juneteenth & Father’s Day, Sunday, June 19th 2005; 2 – 3 p.m. at the National Liberty Museum
located at 321 Chestnut Street in Old City, Philadelphia.
George Higgs and Lightnin’ Wells, both from North Carolina, will perform
tunes honed from a combined 100+ years playing the Blues. This hands-on concert
will provide a memorable and thrilling experience for the entire family in
celebration of Juneteenth, a holiday which marks the end of slavery in the U.S.George Higgs & Lightnin’ Wells, in Philadelphia for the very first time, will
perform Blues music rooted in the early 1900s using harmonica, voice, guitar,
banjo, ukulele and more. Both experienced educators, Higgs and Wells will
demonstrate instrumental techniques and give an ongoing narrative of the roots
and magic of the Blues to create an exciting, interactive experience for
audience members of all ages. Their music will celebrate Americans’ shared roots
and multicultural heritage to mark the Juneteenth holiday.
At 75 years of age, George Higgs took part in the birth of the
Blues genre and has been performing ever since; more recently, his “Tarboro
Blues” was named best album of 2001 by Living Blues magazine. Both Higgs and
Wells have recorded albums and performed at prestigious festivals and venues
across the globe, including the Chicago Blues Festival, the Lincoln Center and
more. Both men live in North Carolina and are represented by the Music Maker
The National Liberty Museum is dedicated to celebrating democracy and diversity,
promoting respect and defusing violence. Located at 321 Chestnut Street in the
heart of Philadelphia’s historic district, the Museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
daily through the summer months. The facility is fully wheelchair accessible.
For more information on the Museum, call (215) 925-2800 or visit
[Photo 1: George Higgs, Photo 2: Lightnin’ Wells. Both photos courtesy of
National Liberty Museum].
Phoenix (Arizona), USA – Tha Tribe launches their seventh recording with
Both Worlds-World Two. This is a follow up to their Nammy (Native American Music
Award) nominated album, Best of Both Worlds-World One. The group was a double
nominee for Group of the Year and Best Pow-Wow Album.The pow-wow scene of today is a world in which traditional and modem exist side
by side; where hip-hop style and the beat of the grass dance meet. The younger
generation of dancers and singers maintain their time-honored Native traditions
in today’s world of rapidly changing, cutting edge style. Direct from the pow-wow
trail these championship singers bridge two disparate worlds like no other pow-wow
Best of Both Worlds 2, and
Best of Both Worlds 1].
Reggae legends Sly and Robbie will headline this year’s Global Fusion at the
Pestalozzi International Village in Sedlescombe, UK. The seminal music duo – who
have worked with such greats as Bob Dylan and Jimmy Cliff – will be playing at
this now well established three-day World Music festival which runs from June 17
They will be joined by comedian Gina Yashere, a graduate of Comic Relief’s Fame
Academy who will also participate in debate on the storytelling stage.As well as Sly and Robbie, festival goers can expect to see other big name acts,
throughout the weekend, such as The Dhol Foundation, who were considered by many
to have been a highlight of the WOMAD festival; and Celloman featuring Ballet
Black. Other musical performances include Kamakura, Anna Mudeka, The Birmingham
Community Gospel Choir with Nana Tsiboe, Maambena and Jugnu Bhangra (who will
also be leading dance workshops from the main stage).
Other activities set to take place on the storytelling stage include tales from
Sub Saharan Africa with Musi Katerere, Spud & Yam, Richard West, Pat Robson and
Jane Bom-Bane with her mechanical hats.
There will also be family workshops throughout the weekend, including dance,
drumming and capoeira in the workshops tent (which will also play host to live
DJ’s on Saturday night), a global crafts fair, circus skills, stilt walkers and
even a visit form Little Bo Peep. Not to mention two performances on the main
stage from the Pestalozzi students themselves.
Weekend tickets are available at a special rate until June 10th: £30 without
camping, £40 with camping. Tickets also available for individual festival
sessions, see website for details and online booking.
For ticket information: 01424 870444 – Online booking at
[Photo: Sly and Robbie, courtesy of Friends of Reggae International].
Germany – South African musician and poet
Tshabalala has a new album entitled Meadowlands (Tropical
Music 68.848). The songs on Meadowlands are sung in various local
languages such as Zulu, Shangaan, Tswana and English. Sam sings about his
family, tragic accidents, forced removals and AIDS. Despite the tragic subjects
of the songs, the music carries an easy and happy mood. Sam sings about the
tragic killing of his nephew in the ghetto, “Soneni”, accompanied by a thriving
rhythm and a vivid guitar that expresses more strength and happiness than
sadness. This combination of rhythmic and powerful music with tragic lyrics has
a long tradition in South Africa, as it helped the people to support the
problems and sufferings of Apartheid and the hard life in the ghettos.The song “Meadowlands” tells the painful story of the forced and brutal removals
in the 1960s of the non-white population from their lands into the arid and
dusty outskirts of Johannesburg. “Meadowlands” symbolizes the loss of the home
ground and the transfer into foreign zones, as it happened also to Sam
Even in Paris, he remains a stranger among strangers, although it is his home
since almost twenty years. Paris is rather the home of the Africans coming from
the former French colonies such as Cameroon, Senegal and the Ivory Coast. As a
South-African he would be maybe more at home in the South African community of
former exiles in London. But although he is very far away from his home country,
his heart still beats there.
Sam Tshabalala shows the great variety of South African culture in the eleven
songs, which derive partly from local traditions. Different languages can be
found in the lyrics of the new album Meadowlands, such as Sam’s mother
tongue Shangaan, Tswana, his language at school, and of course Zulu.
Wilkesboro (North Carolina), USA – Wilkes Community College,
which has produced MerleFest on its campus in Wilkesboro, NC since 1988, today
awarded its first honorary degree ever to iconic roots musician Arthel
“Doc” Watson.” Dr. Gordon G. Burns, president of Wilkes Community College since
1996, presented Watson with an Honorary Associate in Arts degree at the 39th
Commencement of the institution, currently celebrating its 40th anniversary.“Doc’s contributions to the college, the community and the region are
incomparable,” said Dr. Burns. “He has drawn positive attention to the region’s
musical heritage and, in so doing, contributed to the economic well-being of the
region.” Dr. Burns noted that MerleFest has contributed more than $90 million to
the regional economy over the past nine years and raised in excess of $5,000,000
for Wilkes Community College.
Watson expressed his gratitude to the college for keeping Merle Watson’s memory
alive and then delighted the commencement audience of some 2000 by flipping the
tassel on his mortarboard to the “graduate” side.
MerleFest celebrates the music of the late Merle Watson and his father Doc
Watson. Wilkes Community College will present MerleFest 2006 on April 27 – 30,
Israel – Changing Moments (Magda MGD046), the debut album by virtuoso
percussionist & composer Yinon Muallem, was recorded in Israel and Turkey and
features leading Turkish and Israeli musicians. The compositions in the album
are influenced by many different styles, including Classical Turkish Music, Sufi
Music, and other ethnic styles such as Indian, Arabic, Jewish and more. The influence of Turkish classical music is most evident in “Huzzam Saz Semaisi”,
“Rast Ilahi” and “The Man in The Musk” featuring Muazzin Halil Necipoglu, and
released also on the compilation Harem Secret (Soul Star, Germany).
The album features a special arrangement by Yinon to the traditional Israeli
song, Pizmon LaYakinton (vocals by Hadass Pal Yarden). The musicians who
participated in the album are: Turdal Tokcan, Goksel Baktagir, Halil Necipoglu,
Hadass Pal-Yarden, Emrullah Senguller, Selim Guler, Eyal Sela, Yankal’e Segal,
Shiomo Oz, and Ofer Ankori.
Madrid, Spain –
Two tracks “Balansiya” & “Epitafio,” from the CD
El sueño de Al-Zaqqaq, by
Delgado, have been included
in the soundtrack of the new film by Ridley Scott, Kingdom of Heaven.
In a motion picture full of action like Kingdom of Heaven,
the voice of Serghini El Arabí sounds clear and majestic. It is heard
when the inhabitants of the already surrounded Jerusalem
were initiating the march into exile.
The singer intones the verses Al-Zaqqaq wrote
for his Epitaph in Valencia in the 12th century
when the events of the film take place:“Death, the inexorable law of humankind,
stole me from your side.
In it I preceded you,
but later it will not be long
before we are together again.”
Nearly at the end of the film, the sounds of the Andalusian ud appear,
recorded by Luis Delgado in “Balansiya”.
It´s the moment when the main actor, back home,
contemplating his forge reduced to ashes,
decides to initiate a new life.
Al-Zaqqaq is the first of a series of albums Luis Delgado
recorded for Nubenegra, inspired by the Arab-Andalusian
poetry between 11th and 13th century. The last one at the moment
is Tanger a double CD released in a lavish digipack. It was
recorded live at an old synagogue in the aforementioned town (Tangier).
Together with Luis there are three Moroccan and three Spanish musicians
and the seven are actually presenting Tanger
in theatres and festivals in Spain and Morocco.
Los Angeles (California), USA – Amjad All Khan has a new album,
Moksha (Real World Records). Amjad Ali Khan is one of the world’s leading
contemporary sarod virtuosos, and the keeper of the sixth generation of his
musical family of Bangash lineage, rooted in the Senia Bangash school of music ~
responsible for keeping sarod alive for several hundred years. He is also a
traditional composer of some note, and proves his prowess on Moksha with
a selection of eight fresh original ragas.Moksha is the ultimate goal of Hindu religious life, only attained
when an individual becomes liberated from the life cycle (birth to death), and
reaches a union with the Supreme Being. Moksha is what yogis call
‘freedom’ and Buddhists call ‘nirvana,’ yet it also transcends religious
barriers. In playing sarod, the complex string instrument becomes a vessel for
the player to ‘sing through’ it, and create an original sound. The fretless
instrument allows free movement throughout the neck to slide easily over notes,
creating a technique that is used at the start of what begets a raga.
With the help of his sons Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash, Amjad All
Khan has created a religious journey though Indian classical music in a new and
refreshing manner, and spawns yet another generation of sarod mastery. In turn,
the sons become their family’s seventh generation of keepers of the tradition,
Phoenix, Arizona, USA –
Earl Ray (Salt River Pima/Maricopa) makes his debut recording with Canyon
Records with his album, Traditional Songs of the Salt River Pima. The ‘Akimel ‘O’odham
(meaning “River People”), formerly known as the Pimas, live in the deserts of
Arizona on the Salt River and Gila River Reservations.
As some of the oldest residents of the American Southwest, the ‘Akimel
‘O’odham trace much of their agriculturally rooted culture to the ancient
Hohokam people. A member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa tribe, Earl Ray (known
in Pima as Lo:doc, pronounced “Law-Dutch”) is a singer, linguist, and tribal
activist and is currently the only person who reads and writes the Salt River
Pima dialect. On this recording Earl sings a collection of rare and historic
songs evoking the rich mythology and cultural’ pageantry of the ‘Akimel ‘O’odham.
The album also includes detailed notes of the “River People” in addition to
translation and transliteration of Salt River Pima words.Earl has spent more than two decades researching the culture of his people As a
native speaker he understood the loss of his language, which prompted him to
leam to read and write his own Pilria dialect at the University of Arizona in
1978-1979 under the instruction of Dr. Ofelia Zepeda.
Eventually Ray’s work took him to Amsterdam in the Netherlands, where he lived
for four and a half years. There he contributed information to the National
Museum of Ethnology, in Leiden, where Pima artifacts were discovered as a part
of the collections of the Hemenway Expedition, in the 1880’s. Ray has produced
teaching videotapes and also helped save the Hole-in-the-Rock, a sacred site in
Phoenix that was a prehistoric astronomical observatory used by the Huhukam.
Traditional Songs of the Salt River Pima].
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA –
Blue Highway has a new album entitled
Marbletown (Rounder Records). Working individually as sidemen, songwriters, and solo artists, the members of
Blue Highway have played a crucial role in defining today’s bluegrass sound.
Collectively, Jason Burleson, Rob Ickes, Shawn Lane, Tim Stafford, and Wayne
Taylor form an ensemble unmatched in terms of instrumental, vocal, and
songwriting prowess. Their independent strengths are seamlessly integrated into
a mature, exhilaratingly confident whole on their seventh album, Marbletown.
Garnering a Grammy nomination and numerous accolades along the way, Blue
Highway continue to challenge themselves – achieving a startling new depth to
their songwriting, an even higher level of instrumental interplay, and a vocal
blend that is at once effortlessly smooth and ruggedly soulful.