Works of Reference Printed for Choir groups

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Santiago de Cuba, Cuba – The immense experience of maestro Electo Silva in choir music has been published in two books, to be used as reference for Cuban and foreign choral groups. “Haiti Sings” and “Fifteen Cuban Choir Songs,” are the two books published by the Santiago-born maestro and National Music Award winner, which are dedicated to the 200th anniversary of Haitian independence. The work of the also director of Orfeón Santiago Choir was
presented at the Choir Information Center, where the production of these books,
printed with the support of the Andante Label and the Jose Marti Program Office.
"Fifteen Cuban Choir Songs" is a book which has a selection of songs and various
methods which make choir voice education easier.

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It\’s all about jazz!

Q. What is the difference between a pizza and a Jazz musician? 

A. A pizza can feed a family of four! 

What is it about Jazz that makes a Jazz musician stick to a form of music that A&R managers have scientifically and suspiciously proven to be a musician’s surest route to death by starvation? 

One good reason would be the fact that Jazz allows me to be myself as opposed to Pop that wants me to be Madonna. I would rather be me than strut onstage wearing conical jocks. I remember a male indipop album released by some genius A&R manager, titled ‘mai bhi Madonna’ (I’m Madonna too). Jazz as you will see, and if you’ve heard about ‘mai bhi Madonna’, helps me retain my individuality and what’s left of my sanity in this big mad world of music marketing.Jazz, the most open, alive and evolving form of music, is the medium I choose to communicate and express myself musically. I know a lot of people in the audience may not understand my intense shoobee-doo-wop, shoobee-doobee-doo-wop and emotive twidlee-didlee, didlee-doo-dah along with some sensitive chaka-chaka, shaka-dish-boom-thaak. But there’s always the few who can ‘feel’ what they can’t figure. Most of the time the message
I communicate may read ‘hey brother, how about a loan. I’m broke again’ but when
I have someone in the audience enjoying my music, i become a millionaire.

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Annie Humphrey: A Tigress with a Guitar

Annie Humphrey
Annie Humphrey
Social activism has fueled songs for many generations. During the previous century folk songs fueled the international Republican fighters during the Spanish Civil War, ignited a movement for social justice during the Great Depression and onward through the volatile 1960’s. Folk singers Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger and Joan Baez for instance have become legends in their own rights. Today this tradition includes several Native American musicians such as
Robert
Mirabal
, Joanne Shenandoah and Makoche recording artist Annie Humphrey. And while the aforementioned Native American musicians have bridged the gap between native and non-native American musicians, by performing rock, folk and other genres, Annie Humphrey’s name could be mentioned in the same breath with folk singer-social activists Michelle Shocked, Michael Franti and Ani DiFranco.

Humphrey might have grown up on an Indian reservation and struggled with various problems, such as alcoholism, domestic abuse, hopelessness, the welfare system and other experiences associated with American Indians, yet her songs reflect on universal experiences. All races experience poverty, injustice and substance abuse. And so people from many origins would be able to relate to her songs.

Born and raised on the Ojibwe Indian reservation in Northern Minnesota, Humphrey’s life might be called dualistic. On one hand, she was introduced to words and music at a young age (her father taught her guitar and her mother, Ojibwe author, Anne M. Dunn influenced Humphrey’s poetic gift). But on the other hand, Humphrey also witnessed domestic violence, a topic that appears on the song Mother’s Rain on Humphrey’s second Makoche CD, Edge of America (read the CD review). Although the song falls into dark territory, Humphrey ends the song on a hopeful note,
I live in a town on the Rez in a house that I built where dreams shine and my children
laugh
.”

However when I asked Annie if those words meant that she healed from wounds caused by witnessing her father battering her mother, she explained that she might have not healed.

I haven’t forgiven my father. Thoughts of him piss me off. I have come far enough to know that I don’t ever want my children to see me degraded and hurt and in
pain
.”

Humphrey had also felt stifled by life on the reservation and enlisted in the Marine Corp. This gave her a chance to see other parts of the US and Japan where she was stationed. Humphrey found strength by testing her limits of endurance and she developed a confidence in her abilities.

I remember telling someone once that a 25 mile hump (forced march) with a full pack in the heat and humidity of Japan on a steep terrain was more painful than giving birth (laughter). But we are strong and that which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. That’s an old saying from the Corp that I hold near and dear to my heart
(smile)
.”

Humphrey who writes songs from her own experiences, knows the pain of childbirth because she gave birth to two children, now 7 and 9 years of age. She credits the birth of her son and meeting Native American spoken word performer John Trudell (a dear friend and mentor) for changing her life.

My own personal evolution started me on this path was having children and hearing John Trudell speak. My son saved my life. I had been a heavy drinker during my years in the Marine Corp and I drank when I got out. I was drinking when I found out that I was pregnant with my son, but the day that I found out that I was going to have a baby, I quit drinking. I’ve been sober for 9 years. I tell my son that he saved my life. When I tell him about my life before him, he says, ‘Mommy, I’m glad that you’re a good mommy and you don’t smoke or drink anymore.”…My children are my healing. They inspire and teach me. And John Trudell has taught me so
much
.”

Despite Humphrey’s current success as a recording artist, her first CD, The Heron Smiled garnered two NAMMY’s in 2001 and her second album, Edge of America also promises to win accolades, her children are her number one priority. She relocated to Wisconsin where she now lives with her mother and children. Humphrey didn’t want to raise her children among the hopelessness found on the Ojibwe Indian reservation.

I left the reservation to raise my children away from it. The reservation I am from could be described as a buffalo pen. Our ancestors are like buffalo that were born to the land. Then the people were penned up on reservations like buffalo. Now we have people being born into captivity and they can’t survive outside the pen without being fed or watered by someone. This is the way it is for many people. I chose to leave. I don’t have to stay there and try to make it better. There’s plenty of trouble everywhere and my first obligation is to my children and not to the reservation.”

Humphrey goes onto describe a sense of powerlessness that affects people of all races.
John Trudell speaks of the system that mines us of our spirit and leaves toxins like fear and insecurity. This is where intelligence comes in–use
it
.”

Humphrey mentions themes of powerlessness in several of her songs. And whether she’s singing about incarceration (Doin’ Time, Lakin’s Flame), domestic violence (Mother’s Rain), homelessness (Precious Moon Daughter) or the atrocities of war (Nightmares And The American Dream), she is able to shed some light on these topics, some of which she is all too familiar.

It’s funny I do sing about very dark things, sad things and they make me sad to sing them. Sometimes I can feel this energy coming from people when I am singing too and I am overwhelmed and come close to crying. I sing, but I can’t, I gotta finish this song! I’ve been asked, “why don’t you sing happy songs? You sing such sad songs dear. Are you happy?’ I am serious. I say something like, you can’t sing blues in an air conditioned
room
.”

Humphrey sings mostly about her own experiences. For instance the love song Doin’ Time which speaks of a lover locked away in prison is based on her own life. Lakin’ Flame which also speaks of the prison experience, features lyrics written by author James Starkey. However, Humphrey sings the song with so much passion, you might think she’s singing about her own experiences. I ask Annie about the origins of Doin’ Time.

The two love songs Doin’ Time and Storm I wrote for my husband who is in prison. I married him there. He is still there and he is the love of my life. He is awesome and he has a huge crush on me
(smile)
.”

Although Humphrey wrote a bulk of the songs on Edge of America, she also includes songs based on her mother Anne M. Dunn’s (author of When Beaver was Very Great and Grandmother’s Gift) literary work. Precious Moon Daughter and They Found Her (a song about spirit possession) are both based on Dunn’s words. John Trudell penned the lyrics to Edge of America and Jim Boyd who co-wrote the song, Falling Down and Falling Apart with author/ filmmaker Sherman Alexie on Humphrey’s The Heron Smiles CD, returns here with the uplifting, I’ll Be There.

Jim Boyd’s song follows the dark Mother’s Rain and adds a ray of hope. “I wanted to include Jim Boyd’s song on this record because Jim is a kind and gentle man. I also placed the song I’ll Be There right after Mother Rain to give people, women a little lift. Mother’s Rain is triumphant at the end, but it is a sad song. And then comes Jim’s beautiful song. It comes in and lifts us up again. The fact that the man’s voice says these good words is also very, very powerful and important on this
record
.”

It’s hard to imagine that a musician that crafts such thoughtful albums and colors her songs with heart-felt emotions embarked on a music career out of necessity. Her grim fate led Humphrey to add her voice to a cacophony of songs about social justice, but also poetic songs that exists for the sake of sheer beauty.

I never meant to be a recording artist. I was motivated to start performing and trying to make some money because of welfare reform. That’s another area that bugs me. I am so fortunate that I can do what I do and support my family. How can a woman be expected to work and pay childcare for her children on a minimum wage job? Even if there is help, there are bills, rent, lights, groceries, car, gas, detergent and it’s
impossible
.”

Humphrey wouldn’t be the first struggling mother to rely on her creative gifts to support herself and I am sure she won’t be the last one. Filmmaker Alison Anders comes to mind. And perhaps Humprey’s resourcefulness will inspire other women to find similar opportunities to support their families. Although a career in the arts is usually the last place anyone would expect to draw an income to support a family.

I am so lucky and blessed that I can be at home with my kids. I can take them on the road or I can fly out, do a gig and be home the next day with money for
us
.”

Of course, Humphrey’s talent goes deeper than just being able to pay the bills. I personally see her a messenger to others who are lost in the struggle of the daily grind. Her songs have the ability to inspire and to herald in social change.

The songs just came to me. It’s my job to get them out to the vibratory world. See, it’s my kids again, I had to make a living and all I could do was play a guitar and sing. And so I took my guitar in one hand and my daughter in her infant carrier and my little son walking by my side to coffeehouses to audition…On my new CD I chose to have a photo of me and my children. I carry the guitar and we all hold hands. That’s us. That’s always
us
.”

Humphrey takes more pride in raising her children than in the songs she’s composed. Motherhood is important to her and she believes that mothers on welfare need to be acknowledged for raising their children against the odds. Humphrey recalls an event that took place when she was collecting AFDC. She was standing in the layaway line at a local K-Mart and her astute son struck up a conversation with an elderly lady.

When I finished my business and turned to leave, the woman put her hand on my shoulder and she looked me in the eye, smiled and said, ‘well done.’ I will never forget the feeling it gave me. I was so proud of the mother I had become. She didn’t see an Indian welfare mother. She saw a good mother and it was
awesome
.”

I sense a spiritual element in Humphrey’s songs. Her love song, Storm exudes super natural power and Justice Hunters, a song in which Humphrey plays piano speaks of a connection to the earth. The singer songwriters debut CD, The Heron Smiled features songs that reflect on Native American spirituality, but some of that is lost among social issues that appear on Edge of America. So I ask Annie, about her spiritual connection.

Our spirituality, our relationship with Creator is real. It is everything. My kids and I pray together every day and they attend ceremonies. Both my children are named (a traditional Native American custom) and I know that prayers keep us safe on the road. Lots of people pray for me and for my family. I know that it is those prayers that have kept us safe all this time and after all these miles. The earth connection is also very real. It’s personal and hard to explain to other people. We are supposed to live in a good way. Creator wants us to have a good journey. I think that we are responsible for everything that we
do
.”

Humphrey is a woman that walks her talk and she has championed environmental and social causes, often crisscrossing the country with activists such as Winona LaDuke. And even her kids have carried signs at anti-war rallies. But what would happen if all this hard work paid off and the world changed overnight for the better. Would she still write and sing songs?

If I woke up tomorrow and everything was just great, well, what would I sing about? It’s like I said earlier, you can’t sing the blues in an air conditioned
room
.”

Of course, I could answer that I never heard about Muddy Waters complaining about singing the blues in air-conditioned rooms. And as long as humans walk the earth, there will always be a need for musical expression.

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Luis Gomez Ballad Festival Returns to Cienfuegos

(Prensa Latina – Cumbancha) Cienfuegos, Cuba.- Cuban country music returns to Cienfuegos, when the Third Luis Gomez Ballad Festival takes place January 22 to 25. Representatives of the genre from Villa Clara, Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila, Camagüey and Las Tunas provinces will display their talent during the event, intended to pay homage to the figures of Gomez and Chanito Isidron.Improvisers, musicians, writers, researchers and promoters will gather to compete in the festival. The program also includes performances and conferences on a variety of topics such as Camaguey ballads, the importance of improvisation, the life and work of Luis Gomez and Marti’s influence on contemporary poetry.

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Walter Grealis

Walter Grealis, longtime
supporter of the Canadian music industry, founder of the trade publication RPM
and one of the inspirations behind the Juno Awards, died Tuesday, January 21, in
Toronto. He was 74.

A Torontonian from birth,
Grealis had a career as a policeman before he entered the recording industry in
1960. He soon became the Ontario promotion manager for London Records and went
on to establish RPM magazine, a weekly music trade publication promoting
Canadian singers and musicians.In 1970, RPM
initiated the Gold Leaf Awards to honor exceptional Canadian artists and
contributors. The award was renamed the Juno the following year. RPM also
established the Big Country Awards along with the Canadian Academy for Country
Music Advancement in 1975. Grealis received a People’s Award at the 1976 Junos
and had a Juno for industry figures named after him. In 1993 he was made an
Officer of the Order of Canada and he was inducted into the Canadian Country
Music Hall of Fame in 1999.

[Courtesy of the

Folk Alliance
].

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Pamyua Wins Big for Alaska Natives

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA – The Anchorage-based quartet Pamyua took top honors Saturday night at the
Native American Music Awards in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when a live album they
recorded at the 4th Avenue Theatre in 2002, called Caught in the Act, was
named record of the year.

The win took the musicians by surprise. In fact, they were so sure they’d been
passed over for the honor that brothers Phillip and Stephen Blanchett weren’t
even in their auditorium seats. They were in the lobby, negotiating a future gig,
when they got word.

I opened the door and saw Karina (Moeller) and Ossie (Kairaiuak) on stage,
and everyone was laughing
,” Phillip Blanchett said of his band mates. “I
did our seal call — Woohoo! Woohoo! — and ran up, flapping my arms like a bird
.”

The award is the first Nammy for Pamyua (pronounced BUM-yo-ah) and the first for
an Alaska artist in the six years of the award. More than 140 recordings were
submitted for 2003 Nammy consideration. Finalists were announced in October.

Caught in the Act was nominated for three 2003 Nammys — best duo/group,
best pop/rock recording, and record of the year — but the group didn’t think
they had a chance at winning any of them when they arrived at Saturday’s event.

But before the group could polish the “It’s an honor just to be nominated
routine, Pamyua was called to the stage and the joke was on them.

I saw (NAMA director) Donald Kelly backstage, and he said ‘I gotcha!’ ”
Stephen Blanchett said, laughing. “He said, ‘You didn’t think you’d win, did you?’
I didn’t
.”

Caught in the Act was released in April. Pamyua’s CD debut was Mengluni in 1998. The title is Yup’ik for “the beginning.” Pamyua’s second
album, Verses, was released in late 2000 and earned the group a 2001
Nammy nomination for best world music recording.

Pamyua formed eight years ago as a Blanchett duo but was a foursome within a
year. The group has since grown popular in Alaska and on the world music
festival circuits with its blend of traditional Native song, drum and dance
performance, Yup’ik storytelling and contemporary world music. The group also
has heavy influences in R&B, funk, jazz, doo-wop and gospel.

That musical diversity and Pamyua’s vibrant performance energy are showcased on
the aptly titled Caught in the Act.

We really wanted to show people the evolution of the music we were making,”
Stephen Blanchett said. “And it really captured what we do onstage. I think
people still remember that night
.”

It’s amazing. We went out of there feeling like we won the award,”
Phillip Blanchett said. “We just accomplished something that is at the very
top. We are so honored to have our names in the record book
.

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Klezmer With An Edge

David Krakauer

Live in Krakow (Label Bleu LBLC 6667)

Any CD that kicks off with a mix of Klezmer clarinet aided by samples from a
beatbox then manages to throw in some tearaway electric guitar has got my
attention right off. The opening track has all of this plus snatches of older
Jewish music and it makes for a joyfully arresting start to an inventive and
exciting CD.
Krakauer’s clarinet style owes much to the music he has spent 15 years exploring
and reviving. It sings and cries distinctively, lovingly caressing the melodies
or equally sending out disturbing squalls of angry intensity. But mostly it is a
source of joy and exuberance. For example on ‘Dusky Bulgar’ he spars with
accordionist, Will Holshouser as the pair create a riotous blend of Klezmer and
wild improvisation, each pushing and encouraging the other.

One of the most beautiful tracks however is ‘Offering Nign’ which again
features both men. This time the clarinet explores every nuance of Krakauer’s
melody conveying rare depths of emotion. It is his offering to a city whose past
he clearly feels a strong affinity with. But it is not a sentimental journey,
rather a heartfelt and emotive response to place and culture. Every note counts
as he articulates through his instrument what words may not be able to express.
It really is a life-affirming and uplifting performance and guitarist Sheryl
Bailey and drummer Michael Sarin also deserve fulsome praise.

On other tracks Krakauer pays homage to jazz and the Polish/Jewish clarinet
music of Naftule Brandwine. Mixed in with this are more beats from Socalled and
lovely taut bass from Nicki Parrott who also provides some funky electric bass
elsewhere.

The whole album has a truly live feel and I wish I could have been at the
Indigo Club where it all happened. The place is not far from Auschwitz which
makes it an emotionally charged venue, as Krakauer says. This is especially
evident on ‘Love Song For Lemberg/Lvov which voices a universal sense of
suffering by means of dark turbulent outbursts in what is otherwise a graceful
and elegant song.
I loved this mix of Klezmer, jazz and other genres as it creates music that is
vital and energizing. It is played with evident love and respect and well worth
spending some time with.

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Rune Songs: Vainamoinen Returns

Ove Berg & Sinikka Langeland - Tirun Lirun
Ove Berg & Sinikka Langeland – Tirun Lirun
Ove Berg & Sinikka Langeland – Tirun Lirun (Finnskogen
Kulturverksted
)

Freya Aswynn – Songs of Yggdrasil (Llewellyn)

Why is it that when you become interested in a subject, you find that others have also been magnetically drawn to that topic? A couple of years ago, I became interested in exploring Finland and its pre Christian or more magical side. Since that time, I rediscovered JRR Tolkien’s books and read Finland’s national treasure, Kalevala Legends in which magic, music and poetry play key roles. I had
also heard groups that perform and record rune songs such as Hedningarna and Värttinä. Then I came across Skogfinn vocalist and kantele player Sinikka
Langeland’s 2002 CD, Runoja.

Sinikka’s CD delved into both healing and epic rune songs of the Finnskogen region of Norway. In the late 1990’s, the Swedish-Finnish group Hedningarna headed to a different region in search of rune songs (Karelian region of Russia). Before that time, the two Finnish vocalists would learn rune songs off of old wax cylinder recordings, but were given the chance to learn these ancient songs from Russian elders who still sang them. However, the repertoire that Hedningarna came across focused on Finnish epic poetry and not the healing properties of rune songs. That isn’t say that the songs in themselves aren’t gorgeous with their superb harmonies and quests of heroes and sorrows of maidens because the songs represent all of those things. But that’s just half of the story of rune songs
and the other half involves applied magic and healing performed by shamans and this in itself could be the stuff of legends. Or perhaps Vainamoinen coming to life.

Ove Berg (kantale) and Sinikka Langeland (vocals) join their talents in both interpreting rune songs and by offering field recordings (those wax cylinders recordings in action) on the CD, Tirun Lirun. The CD numbers 38 tracks of both healing and epic runes, many of them recorded between 1905 and 1926 as performed by shamans. The musicians provide us with academic liner notes as well, but unfortunately you would need to be able to read Norwegian or Finnish text to fully appreciate these carefully researched notes. So I visited the label’s web site where I at least found English descriptions of each of the tracks.

Contemporary tracks of Sinikka’s clear soprano vocals and Ove’s enchanting kantele appear along side scratchy and barely audible archival recordings of shamans Kaisa Vilhuinen and Puro-Juhoin Pekka. Yet, I get this feeling that in order to explore rune songs, you need to listen to the archival and modern
recordings. So I think the musicians made a smart choice here by bringing us an ancient practice that seems to be fading with time despite the public’s interests in the Kalevala Legends and groups such as Varttina.

A quote appears on the label’s web site of what shaman Puro-Juhoin Pekka told the last wise woman in Finnskogen, Kaisa Vilhuinen. “You must not place the sword in the hands of a fool; With sorcery both good and evil can be done.” And often is in both legends and reality in places where this sort of magic is practiced. The rune songs featured on this CD were once used to protect people
and their animals, to heal wounds and to cast a spell over bees (I’m not sure why anyone would need to casts spells over bees). And the rune songs find their roots in shamanism. The rune songs arrived in Norway with the Skogfinns in the 1600’s and grew over time as a living tradition.

However, the Skogfinns and the Karelians weren’t the only tribal people singing magical chants. The Sami were also chanting magic for healing purposes and sorcery and they called their chants, yoiks. And no doubt other Nordic tribes in the area had similar practices in which fell under the scrutiny and punishment of the Christian church which arrived in Finland in the 13th century.

The rune songs that appear on Tirun Lirun run the gamut of epic poetry, such as track 4, Vainamoinen (of the Kalevala Legends), to practical purposes, (the shamanic-inspired Rollota used to fire up the oven). Kanteleensoitto is an epic song that focuses on the musical instrument kantale (once created by Vainamoinen). Anfallsrune is an incantation against fits and Turskarune is an incantation against wounds. Jonnrune/Raudan jalgea can stop a wound from bleeding and according to Professor Timo Leisio, “The Skogfinn’s runes to heal open wounds are so remarkable that they should be the subject of comprehensive research.”

If you find you have an interest in the magical properties of rune songs, Freya Aswynn’s Songs of Yggdrasil, released by the metaphysical book publisher, Llewellyn is also worth a listen. This CD delves deeply into the actual chants performed by the Nordic shaman Freya.

According to the CD liner notes, “In shamanism one of the most valued techniques is the use of sound. There are two main techniques: chanting and drumming, which are combined with breath control and synchronized with a heartbeat. The main reason for employing these techniques is to achieve an
altered state of consciousness… There are two different kinds of trance states. One is exhilarating and leads to tremendous amounts of energy; in this state magic acts can be performed usually on the spur of the moment
…”

Freya goes on to describe the second kind of trance which is a journey state and the shaman’s attentions are turned inward. The chants that appear on Songs of Yggdrasil recount the shaman’s journey and in this case the shaman journeys through nine worlds, where various Nordic gods/goddesses and entities such as Odin and Freya are evoked. In the past, I had read a book that described the
journeys of seidr (Nordic seers) in which the seidre would sit on a high chair and drop into a trance where the seidre would journey through the nine worlds bringing back information for those ceremonial attendees seeking answers. I’m not sure how Freya’s recording fits into this practice. However, the chants included on the CD represent particular runes and vibrations associated with those particular runes. Freya cites, “Through chanting the runes, one can express the meaning of that rune.” Her recording demonstrates the galdr technique.

Whipping wind and howling wolves accompany Freya’s chants. This creates a Gothic atmosphere and easily sends its listeners on an inward quest. Freya also explains what and whom she encounters on the journey as well as, performing various invocations and chants. Also note that the chants on this CD are not melodic. While drums appear on at least one of the tracks, this recording represents sound healing through the use of shamanic chants.

However, if you are interested in pursuing the sound healing aspects of rune songs and would like to explore the Northern Mysteries, then picking up Freya Aswynn’s Songs of Yggdrasil along with her book, Northern Mysteries and Magick (Llewellyn), will get you off on the right foot. Working with sound and loving intentions could transform the world we live in for the better. If you’re
strictly seeking a more academic approach, then check out Tirun Lirun.

I am certainly not an expert on rune songs and I can find very little in the way of books on the subject, at least ones written in English. I will say that rune songs are worth exploring as both a musical and a magical practice.

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We Refuse to be Enemies

Under the banner “We Refuse to be Enemies,” several hundred Jews, Arabs, and
community members gathered on a rainy, snowy evening in December to eat, talk,
sing, and dance together. Sponsored by the Eugene Middle East Peace Group, the
event featured several speakers representing the Jewish and Muslim faiths. The
evening fell mid-way between Channukah and Eid el-Fitr, the Jewish and Muslim
holy days, respectively (Eid el-Fitr is the last night of Ramadan).

Music was provided by the Eugene Peace Choir and by
Americanistan, a band which plays
music inspired by cultures of the Middle East. MCs Jonathan Seidel and Maha
Hamide worked with the band to create two new peace songs in three
languages–English, Hebrew, and Arabic–which were sung by the entire gathering.
Israeli dances and Arabic debke (folk dance) to the music of Americanistan
completed the evening’s entertainment.Fabulous traditional Arabic and Jewish food created by the Lane Community
College culinary arts department, in conjunction with restaurateur Ibrahim
Hamide, provided a delicious, satisfying, and symbolic opportunity for Jews,
Arabs, Christians–and anyone who eats food!–to sit together and celebrate our
common humanity.

It was an event that made one proud to be a human being, a peace worker, and
a part of a light of hope, however small, for the world.

This year’s celebration was the fourth annual gathering sponsored by the
Eugene Middle East Peace Group.

-Submitted by Dunyah, Director of Americanistan, an world music band of
musicians based in Eugene, Oregon.

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Armenia The Beautiful

Cascade Folk Trio - Old Street
Cascade Folk Trio – Old Street
Cascade Folk Trio

Old Street (Bandaz Records BZ 2764, 2003)

Before this disc came along, I didn’t have much in the way of music from Armenia. In fact, on giving the matter further thought, I’m inclined to think I didn’t have any. And since it’s a nice piece of work, I’m glad to have it not simply as padding for my world music collection but for the much more important concern of listening pleasure.

Armenia, a small country south of the Caspian and Black Seas near to where Europe and Asia meet, has a history as both a kingdom and a Soviet republic. That history has been troubled at times, particularly the genocidal actions of the Ottoman Turks against the Armenian people during World War One. It’s definitely modern music we’re treated to on Cascade Folk Trio’s Old Street, so the overall feel isn’t as “folk” as you may think. Nonetheless, the use of programmed rhythms and studio polish isn’t overly intrusive, letting the more specifically Armenian elements, including abundant dhol drums and double-reed duduk, provide the real kick. So delight in the way the opening “Gentle Boy, Graceful Girl” alternates bursts of traditional sound with choppy jazz phrases or the bright funk of “Wipe the Tears From My Eyes,” because there’s also songs here that don’t focus so much on fusion. And delight in the vocals too, because the name above the title refers to the three singers whose pipes bring it all together.

The lead singing is divided pretty evenly between a guy named Arman Aghajanyan and a gal called Ohanna Mtghyan. Their versatility, coupled with the varied exotic spark of the arrangements, can make you feel as though you’re listening to rai, Gypsy music or French cabaret, though the lamenting nature of many of the songs (evidenced by some translated lyrics in the liner notes and probably reflective of that troubled history mentioned earlier) will tug on new and different sets of heartstrings. Recorded in both Armenia and the U.S., the line this album walks is a fine one. It’s ultimately quite a good listen and leads me to believe that I must be missing out on a lot by not paying closer attention to the Armenian music scene.

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Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion