Quetzal Presents Worksongs, Produced by Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin

Quetzal - Worksongs
Quetzal – Worksongs
Los Angeles, USA – Quetzal, the groundbreaking band stemming from the barrios of Los Angeles is set for its worldwide release today, July 8th, titled Worksongs (Vanguard Records). The release also marks the band’s 10-year anniversary of creating real heartfelt Latin folk and roots-rock music. Worksongs, an 11-track collection of powerful songs collaborated on by the six band members, follows their critically acclaimed album Sing The Real released last year on Vanguard Records.

Quetzal’s grassroots approach to fusing the folk styles of Mexico and Cuba, including son and bolero, alongside tasteful elements of rock and blues, carves an inspiring path in the tiresome music industry. After the successful tours and concerts alongside the likes of Los Lobos, Aerosmith, Ozomatli, Taj Mahal and Michelle Shocked, Quetzal proved beyond doubt, their ability to play intimate clubs and large arenas alike without a hitch, gaining fans at every stop.

Produced by longtime Los Lobos saxophonist Steve Berlin, whose playing and production credits include Bonnie Raitt, John Lee Hooker, Sheryl Crow, Faith No More and Paul Simon, saw the working relationship a perfect fit. “It’s profound, there’s not enough articulation about what’s going on in East LA [Los Angeles],” he says. “Worksongs is not just a record; they are the voice of the culture. We’ve [Los Lobos] carried the torch long enough, and I think Quetzal is the next to step up and speak for the community.”

Quetzal is now performing music from Worksongs and is not only touring with Ziggy Marley, Taj Mahal and Little Feat, but will headline major concerts in Los Angeles (Ford Amphitheater), Cleveland (Night Town), and other major cities.

Quetzal is: Quetzal Flores, Martha Gonzalez, Edson Gianesi, Gabriel Gonzalez, Dante Pascuzzo, and Kiko Cornejo.


Floydfest: World Music Festival in Virginia

Floydfest_logoFloyd, Virginia, USA – The second annual Floydfest … Outta This World Music Festival, is set for Aug. 15-17 at a magnificent 80-acre site off the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway in Floyd County.

This year the African Showboyz will join the Kusun, straight from the bush of Accra, Ghana, and take the stage alongside such greats as The David Grisman Quintet, Peter Rowan, Tony Rice, Nickel Creek, and many more, as well as a host of local talent. The event also celebrates the wealth of indigenous
artisanship in the area, including demo workshops, and dedicates a large space to showcasing the healing arts, with daily yoga and tai chi classes, as well as a variety of massage and body work.

This year’s Flodfest also will be remembering its friend Babatunde Olatunji, who recently passed away not long after taking an active role in helping bring African Showboyz from the northern bush of Ghana to the festival for their first visit to United States.

When Babatunde Olatunji mailed a handwritten letter to musician and promoter Kris Hodges, little did he know that the music from his homeland of Africa, a music he was working to preserve by showcasing unknown African bands to a US audience, would be making a debut performance in the US in the rural Virignia mountain town of Floyd.

The Kusun Ensemble, a troupe of musicians from Accra, Ghana led by Nii Tettey Tetteh, is slated for an opening performance Friday morning. But the Kusun has already found a second home in Floyd, Virginiaa, USA. In the two months prior to the festival, Hodges has scheduled the group to lead drum and dance workshops in the area and perform at universities and local venues. On a warm July evening they give an impromptu performance at a community potluck, singing and drumming on a makeshift stage and taking turns leading the audience in the provocative movements of African dance. They’re lodging a few miles out of the one-stoplight town of Floyd, a left off of Route 8 and another onto ‘Milky Way’, and into High Flowing, one of Floyd’s many alternative communities.

When Hodges when to Africa to study African drumming, he and Tettey made a spiritual connection. The two deplored the plight of Africa, a continent wasting for lack of an economy and the knowledge necessary to create a viable infrastructure. They discussed global politics, and how fear and greed create the illusion of separateness. They spent their time playing music, reaffirming the idea that music and culture are unifying forces, which transcend social boundaries. Hodges invited Tettey to come to America, to Floyd, to experience his community and to play at a festival he was planning; the Floyd World Music Festival.

Stop by on any given weekday during the summer and you’re likely to hear the unlikely sound of an accordion, played by German-born hostess and bohemian artist Starroot, behind the complex beat of traditional African drums and percussion. On and around the low-slung porch of the main house a colorful group dances, sings, and plays music, as the smells of a fish fry drift through the open windows.

In the southwest Virginia mountain town of Floyd, an eclectic blend of cultures are living a harmonious existence. Floyd is home to some of the finest bluegrass and old-time musicians around; and they all come together every Friday night for a jamboree at the old Country Store downtown. Simultaneously there exists a deeply-rooted counterculture, established in the early 1970s, exemplified by the existence of a thriving health food’s coop, a hip vegetarian restaurant, and the New Mountain Mercantile, which does a brisk tourist business selling locally made crafts including pottery, candles, stained glass, clothing, sculpture and jewelry. Outside an office atop the mercantile, a lighted movie-style marquee sign reads: “Across-the-Way Productions, headquarters of the Floyd World Music Festival.”


WorldFest in California

California-worldfestChico, USA – The 2003 edition of WorldFest will take place July 17-20 in the fairgrounds of Grass Valley, California. The festival includes concerts, workshops (vocal, instrumental and percussion), a complete children’s program, and great food. This is the line-up so far:

John Cowan Band ~ Vocal super band
Tommy Emmanuel ~ Guitar Wizard
Perla Batalla ~ Mesamerican Chanteuse
Alasdair Fraser ~ Scottish Fiddle
Waifs ~ Australian Pop
Obo Addy ~ Ghana Superstar
Laura Love Duo with Jen Todd ~ Afro Celtic
Juan L. Sanchez Ensemble ~ Cosmopolitan Sounds of Spain
Mamadou Diabate Ensemble~ Village tunes of Mali
Vishten ~ Red Hot Acadian Fiddle & Dance
the bluehouse ~ Sassy pop & harmony
Balkan Cabaret ~ Old World Standards
Incendio ~ Latin Guitar Fusion
Joaquin Diaz ~ Caribbean Merengue
Xavier Rudd ~ Didgeridoo Wildman
Paul Kamm & Eleanore MacDonald ~ Contemporary Folk
Plus, Troika Folk Dance and Sid Lewis’ Acoustic College

For more information, go to: www.worldfest.net


The 2nd Dance House Summer Camp in Poland

Warsaw, Poland – The Warsaw-based Dance House Association is organizing the Second Dance House Summer Camp this year. It will take place in Warsaw, Szydlowiec and Chlewiska, on August 1-10, 2003. The summer camp will be devoted to traditional music and dance from Poland, France and Hungary. Participants
will have a chance to learn music and dance at workshops, and practice their skills at evening dances to live music (performed by excellent musicians from local villages, as well as from Warsaw and abroad).A full schedule and more detailed information can be found at this new webpage: http://domtanca.art.pl/tabor2

There is also the opportunity to learn Polish traditional dances in Warsaw on June, July, August and September. The workshops will take place at the National Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw (at no.1 Kredytowa strit – not far from Plac Teatralny and Hotel Victoria) http://domtanca.art.pl/ang/wokshops.htm


Program for The Jerusalem Festival – Songs of Freedom

The program for the 2003 edition of The Jerusalem Festival – Songs of Freedom is now available.

The Jerusalem Festival – Songs of Freedom 2003, organized by Yabous Productions will take place throughout the period of 20th–29th of July 2003, in cooperation with the General Consulate of France and with the support of cultural activists

Concerts in Jerusalem will take place at “Tombs of the Kings”, Salah Eddin St., at 8:00pm.The festival is based upon the theme of Freedom. The Jerusalem Festival encompasses a unique theme and vision; which consequently defines its character, atmosphere and program.

The major aim of the organizers is to give hope and courage to Palestinian people in pain, to bring back to the city of East Jerusalem, its cultural glory as the central Palestinian city and to contribute to the development of the cultural, educational economic and touristic life of East Jerusalem.www.yabous.org




Concert in

Concert in



Arabic Choral Ensemble of NCM – Palestine




Zimar –

Erik Truffaz
Quartet -France



Truffaz Quartet – France




Luar Na
Lubre  -Spain




Khumalo – South Africa

Luar Na Lubre-



Misk Wa
Anber – Palestine/Austria




Rim Banna
– Palestine

Misk Wa Anber
– Palestine/Austria



Umfolosi  – Zimbabwe




– Chile




Oriental Music Ensemble- Palestine

Quilapayun –

Concerts in Bethlehem are in cooperation with The International Center of Bethlehem – The National Conservatory of Music.

The Jerusalem Festival – Songs of Freedom 2003 is organized in cooperation with the Consulate General of France in Jerusalem and is supported by the European Union.


Puerto Rico meets Brazil by way of Jamaica

Bayanga – Bayanga

Bayanga(RAS Records 06076-89603-2, 2003)

RAS Records, known as one of the finest reggae labels, steps a bit off their beaten path with this disc. Yes, there is a helping of reggae spirit in Bayanga’s pulsating rhythms, soulfully conscious lyrics and the dreadlocked appearance of some of its members, but there’s more at work here.

Bayanga are a sizable band from Puerto Rico with a passion tending to lean more towards sounds from elsewhere in the African diaspora. They’re perfectly capable of taking a crafty turn into salsa, plena, bomba or Santana-like Latin rock, but the main inspirations seem to come from Brazil and Jamaica.

The wall of percussion that forms the backbone of nearly every song is largely of the Brazilian variety, and Bayanga do some great things with it. Check the clever combination of Brazilian cuica and Australian didjeridoo on “Cohimbre’s Stylee,” for example, or the expert looseness with which the percussion battery can hammer away at the very spot where the guitar or keyboard chop would be in traditional reggae.

Don’t overlook the band’s versatile horn section, though, or the steady guidance of keyboard player/musical director Eduardo Cabra in his ability to navigate forays that include dips into ska, samba and Cuban rhythms. Lead singer Hermino Cabrera doesn’t have much of a vocal range, but his deft phrasing and assured charisma keep the songs moving.

It’ll take more than one listening to pick up everything this disc has going on, and you won’t mind putting forth the effort. With a bluesy slide guitar here or a simple but attention-grabbing melodic punch there, Bayanga have reached into some well chosen sources to come up with a very good sound all their own. Brazilian music fans, reggae lovers, percussion enthusiasts and anyone who appreciates deeply satisfying grooves without a drum machine in sight will enjoy this one.


World Music Charts Europe – July 2003

Berlin, Germany – The top twenty of 187 nominated records for the month of Juily:

1 MARTINA Last month: 69
Africando Senegal/various (Sono)

Sam Mangwana Congo (Sono)

3 3AM: IN BEATS WE TRUST Last month: 1
Sidestepper UK/Colombia (Palm Beats)

4 TUVA ROCK Last month: 30
Yat-Kha Tuva (Pläne)

5 DROP THE DEBT Last month: 3
V.A. various (Say It Loud) 6 RISE UP! Last month: 13
The Klezmatics USA Piranha

7 MAHIMA Last month: 4
Debashish Bhattacharya & Bob Brozman India/USA Riverboat

8 DEB Last month: 20
Souad Massi Algeria Universal

Natacha Atlas UK Mantra

10 GO Last month: 14
Dusminguet Spain Virgin

11 LOVE TRAP Last month: 136
Susheela Raman India/UK Narada World

12 FADO CURVO Last month: 7
Mariza Portugal World Connection

13 CLUB SODADE Last month: – –
Cesaria Evora Cape Verde Lusafrica

Kroke Poland Oriente

15 THE ALBUM Last month: – –
Panjabi MC UK Superstar

16 THE RAIN Last month: 45
Ghazal India/Iran ECM

17 TOTONHO E OS CABRA Last month: – –
Totonho e os Cabra Brazil Trama

18 DEEPER THAN OCEANS Last month: 15
Miyazawa Japan Stern’s

19 FIESTA SONG Last month: 69
Senor Coconut Germany/Chile Multicolor

20 NACAO ZUMBI Last month: 45
Nacao Zumbi Brazil Trama

Reviews, links, audio & shop at


Jazz/Bossa Nova Great Herbie Mann Dies at 73

Jazz flutist Herbie Mann died late Tuesday at his home in Pecos, New Mexico, near Santa Fe. At 73, Mann succumbed after a long battle with prostate cancer according to his family.

Known throughout the jazz and world music scenes for bridging multicultural musical styles, Mann popularized the Bossa Nova for the American audience and adoring fans worldwide. Mann was devoted to incorporating such diverse styles as African, Brazilian, Middle Eastern and Japanese into his music, as well as mixing in American soul and blues. Mann leaves behind a wealth of music with recordings such as African Suite, Brasil, Bossa Nova & Blues, Latin Mann, Memphis Two Step and his last CD Eastern European Roots, released three years ago in 2000.

Herbie Mann played with stellar musicians like Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji and Brazilian musician Sergio Mendes. He was also known for having an eye for up and coming musicians like Chick Corea and Roy Ayers. With his own label Kokopelli, Mann put out more than 100 albums.

Herbie Mann is survived by his wife, Susan; sons, Paul and Geoff; and daughters Claudia and Laura. Private ceremonies will be held on Sunday.


Tampere Vocal Music Festival

From my diary [by Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam]

I received the invitation from the World Vocal Music Festival, Tampere, late
last year. I was really excited as this was an international Vocal festival and
I would be representing the Indian way of singing. Also, it was being held in
Finland, a country not found on many itineraries.

After much planning, we, Murari, my husband Subra and myself, finally left on
May 29th, 2003.

May 29th

We arrived at Frankfurt airport at 7:30 am. Our friend Sriram, a much revered
Yoga teacher, was at the airport to receive us. We drove to their beautiful home
in a village called Beerfelden. Of course, because of the Right hand drive in
Europe, we constantly felt we were on the wrong side of the road! It was a
pleasure to drive on the autobahn. While we were still gushing over Sriram doing
180 miles/hour in his Passat station wagon, we saw another car overtaking us at
200 something!Angelika, Sriram’s wife and my friend, a German who has studied dance in
Kalakshetra and speaks fairly fluent Tamil welcomed us to their house, along
with their dog Inu and cat Choky. After some delicious bread with home made jams
and basil pickle, we took a refreshing walk into the woods near their house.

Sriram then drove us to Schonau, a quiet place near Heidelberg for our
performance on 31st. We stayed with a wonderful couple, Shanta( a Bengali lady)
and her German husband, Theo. They run a hotel and a ballet school. Shanta had
prepared a special Indian meal for us.

T.R.Sundaresan joined us here after conducting some mridangam classes in

May 30th

We spent the day visiting Heidelberg. It is a beautiful town with a lovely
castle and the river Neckar flowing gently down its length. It was sunny, quite
warm at about 28 degrees C. The cobbled streets gave the city an old world charm.
The place was teaming with tourists with their cameras round their necks (like
us!). It was nice long walk for us looking at all the sights and shops. There
were a couple of Indian shops; one a restaurant called Raja Rani and another a
phone call center. They were both pleasant but not particularly excited at
seeing fellow Indians!! The pubs are very cute. When the sun is scarce, people
really learn to appreciate it. Most people were sitting in the sun sipping their
beers and relaxing. Heidelberg is basically a University town and we could see
many students earning extra money working in these pubs. It is better to have a
juice or something stronger, if you like in most of these places. Coffee is
served without milk and sugar. You have to ask for it if you want. But the milk
is never warmed up. So for coffee guzzlers from Chennai this can be quite
difficult! I discovered this after asking for an Expresso coffee, which came in
a little cup; just decoction, tasted like some ‘kashaayam’ to me!!

The place is very scenic. The Germans are basically well built but there was
many a sight to cheer the tired eye! Jeans and short tops are universally
fashionable now, some shorter than the rest, spiked hair, colored hair. Very
different and interesting, in all!

We took a train back to Schonau. All the instructions at the vending machine
were in German and there was no one around to guide us. After much guessing and
buying a ticket to somewhere in North Germany, we finally got our tickets and
had a good ride back!

May 31st

The day began with my workshop on music. The participants were seated close
together. Love for music and an interest in most things Indian was a common
thread. Aided by the power point presentation I had prepared, I explained to
them various facets of Carnatic music. I tuned a sloka in Mohanam raga and got
them to sing along! This was a real hit. They could now understand better the
concept of Sruti, raga and laya. My workshop was a big success.

Sundaresan conducted his tala workshop in the afternoon. It was really cute to
see Germans sitting on the floor, putting tala and doing ‘ taka dimi taka junu’

Our concert in the evening had a good turnout. The main piece I sang was
Papanasam Sivan’s Janakipathe in Kharaharapriya. The applause was tremendous and
most encouraging. We had many questions to answer informally. It was a tiring
but rewarding day.

June 1st

It was a relaxed morning. Our friend Egon had baked some fresh rolls and served
us with hot tea in never ending pots. He is an interesting man and we learnt
some special swear words in German and taught him some Tamil ones, part of a
holistic cultural exchange!

Shanta took us for a walk around Shonau. She is so popular; we suggested she run
for Mayor of the town! It turned out that this was no joke and a serious
suggestion had been made to this effect!!

Summer is good time to visit Germany. All the plants are in bloom and the place
is heaven. Roses, geraniums, rhododendrons, poppies, blossoming apple trees,
berries; an endless collage of colors. Every house and every public place takes
pride in display of flowers and their color schemes. We just couldn’t get enough
of it.

Sriram picked us up at 4pm for a drive to Stuttgart for a home concert. It was
sad bidding goodbye to Shanta and Theo who have grown to be very close friends.

The concert was in a very beautiful house in Stuttgart. We had a select
gathering of music lovers. Some of them had attended Sundaresan’s workshop and I
was amazed that they were putting talam with me! This, truly, is creating
awareness about Carnatic music in the western world; our contribution towards
making people enjoy our music. I explained briefly about the ragas and composers
of the songs I presented. Sriram translated these into German for those who were
not fluent in English. Again, our program was wonderfully well received and we
left for Munich with a sense of anticipation.

June 2nd

Ah, a day exclusively for sight seeing and shopping! I discovered that shopping
is not very exciting in Germany, or Europe for that matter, as things are really
expensive to Rupeewallahs! Interestingly, many Indian things and styles are in
vogue and we saw many famous boutiques displaying things Indian and took pride
in that! There are the ubiquitous “made in China” and “made in Taiwan” tags.
However, all this did not really deter me and I did end up with a bag full of
gifts for my dear ones! Got home with weary feet, predictably. Murai and Subra
decided to take charge of dinner. Anjali was joining us later that night. We had
delicious aubergine [eggplant] and zucchini fry from Murari and a dal makhani
from Subra. Boring jobs like making the rice was left to me! It was sumptuous.

June 3rd

We rehearsed in the morning. I decided to present an RTP as the piece the
resistance that evening. Our concert was in the Ethnic Museum-Volkerkundemuseum.
It was beautiful with exhibits from all over the world. The entrance had a
serene Buddha welcoming everyone.

The hall was packed to capacity and even had a few people standing at the back.
The concert was a success from the word go. The Germans are a very cultural
people themselves and come with an open mind to listen to other styles. They are
very disciplined listeners and their intense attention inspires you to give of
your best.

Got back home in really high spirits. Ilango, the charming son of Sriram and
Anjali, spent some time with us and we had really good fun. Despite a good
dinner, we were hungry and polished off the lovely asparagus and cream sauce (a
seasonal delicacy) Anjali had made earlier!

June 4th

We bid them goodbye in the morning and took the superfast ICE (intercity express)
to Frankfurt where we had to board the flight to Helsinki. Sriram and Anjali had
been really nice and helpful and made out stay in Germany full of warm memories.

The train was delight. It had a bistro in the next coach and we enjoyed a
croissant and coffee there.

After checking in our bags we had almost two hours to kill. Filled our hand
baggage with more goodies, had pasta and pizza at an Italian restaurant and then
boarded the plane.

We arrived at Helsinki at 1730 hrs. We found Jani Salo, our driver to the van to
Tampere waiting for us with a smile and a board that said SUBRAMANIAM. In
Finnish, the J is pronounced Y. So he was Yani to us.

From here onwards the absolute professionalism of organizing left us dumbstruck.
Yani gave me a bag with a welcome note from the Director of the festival,
detailing my schedule till out departure. There were artist badges we should
wear, meal and coffee coupons, and the festival brochure. The drive was nearly
two hours and Jani updated me local news and customs. He is a guitar player and
one of the nearly 200 volunteers who work for this festival. As in any other
country, he is finding it difficult making a living out of music and is also
training to be a psychiatric nurse! Some things are the same all over the world,

We had dinner with some other people from the festival office. We then met Kerb.
She would be our guide during our stay. Unlike Germany, most Finns speak English.
Kerbo has visited India and also many other countries. She was very articulate
and it was a pleasure to have her with us.

June 5th

The real purpose of our tour started! The day began with a TV interview for me.
A few questions on what I hoped to tell them in my workshop and what I expected.

The workshop began at 1000hrs. I had my CD presentation and my tambura. It was a
very interesting workshop as all the participants were musicians/ singers/ choir
conductors.! It was easier talking to them but also more challenging, as they
were all professionals. I could explain more intricate details regarding our
music and they could follow it very well. I got them also to sing and I must say,
they are quick learners. The afternoon saw Murari explain violin playing
techniques in India. Sundaresan demonstrated the mridangam, kanjira , morsing
and the konakkol with great aplomb.

We attended the performance of a Swedish group called The Real Group. It was
amazing. They had no instruments but together the five of them created real
magic on stage, mimicking various instruments even as they sang! Incredible!!

The flags of the participating countries were flying outside the main hall. My
heart filled with pride to see the Indian tricolor flying high there.

June 6th

We walked around and saw a little bit of Tampere in the morning. Went to the
museum and had a good time. My concert was at 21hrs. My sound check was at
19hrs. It was sheer pleasure. The stage, the mikes, the lights. Absolute
professionalism. (They had earlier faxed me the stage proportions and asked for
my requirements in terms of seating, mikes, etc.) Each person executes his job

We started about 15 minutes late. The hall, Old Customs House, was packed. I
started with Saveri varnam and did Nanupalimpa in Mohanam as the main piece.
Sundaresan played the kurraippu with kanjira, morsing and konakkol thrown in.
The applause at the end of this piece was tremendous! I concluded with a javali
and a tillana.

My goodness, we had an ovation of more than 5-6 minutes! It was overwhelming!
They wouldn’t let us leave the stage! I had to sing one more song before they
let us go, and that too because there was another special performance from
Africa after us.

It was an exhilarating experience to say the least. What made it more special
was that the appreciation was from a musically very knowledgeable gathering.

The group Tartit, from Mali that performed after us was quite robust. Their
music resembled our Rajasthani folk music. An interesting incident was one lady
participant’s fascination for my Sari! She took a photo of me and then wanted to
know where the zip was! I had to show her then that it is an unstitched garment
and tell her how to wear it!!

June 7th

Our day of leisure in Tampere. Went sightseeing in Kerbo’s car, ate doughnuts
and ice cream, shopped in their supermarket.

Vegetarianism is catching up among the younger generation and we were ok on
the food front. Of course, we’ve never eaten so much lettuce in our lives, so
regularly! We enjoyed Mexican enchiladas and tortillas, Felafel and Thai tofu
stir fry. There was good bonhomie among our team and everyone was game to try
out new things. It all added to a very enriching experience and made us more
aware of different people and cultures and reiterated the fact that the world
doesn’t revolve around Adyar and Mylapore alone!!

We also attended more concerts. Philomela from Finland was very impressive. Also,
Anuna from Ireland.

June 8th

Left Tampere at 0330 hrs to catch our flight from Helsinki to Chennai via
Frankfurt. Back in Chennai by midnight.

Finland has a population of about 5 million people. It has very severe winters
and short summers. They suffer from a very high rate of suicide as the winters
can be very depressing. But the country is very rich in its music and folklore,
not to mention their sportsmen. The sheer energy and enthusiasm of the people is
amazing. Almost 60 choir groups participated in the competition. With the
resources at hand, the festival was a perfect study in organizing efficiency.
People are truly cultured. You may enter the hall only between pieces, if you
are late. There is no sauntering in and out of concerts. People come because
they want to listen and they listen with full attention. No talking in between.
It would be really good if we could practice some of this etiquette in our
concerts back home. We have every reason to be proud of our culture and rich
heritage. Maybe we could culture ourselves some more?

It was a very satisfying trip to me personally. We in Chennai know about
Carnatic music and its glory. But what is immensely gratifying is to be able to
communicate this to stranger, to us, to our customs, language, lifestyle and
music. Bias is inherent towards vocal music because of the perceived language
barrier. To be able to transcend all this and create a sense of happiness and
satisfaction among the listeners is something that has to be experienced. It is
a challenge and therefore an achievement, something that I shall look forward to
always and render as my service to this art.


Reggae Remake is in the Pink

Easy Star All-Stars – Dub Side of the Moon
Easy Star All-Stars

Dub Side of the Moon (Easy Star Records ES-1012, 2003)

I first learned of this project while interviewing Eric Smith of Easy Star Records in late 2001. When he told me the label was planning to do a reggae remake of Pink Floyd’s perennial bestselling rock album Dark Side of the Moon, I was intrigued, but not to the extent I knew some people would be. Though I was (and am) quite fond of the music and attitude that comprised the Pink Floyd original, I certainly didn’t count myself among its more rabid fans. I never even owned a copy, but given how omnipresent the album was at parties, on the radio and in college dorm rooms, I didn’t need one. Still, whether your affection towards the original is casual or hardcore (or if maybe you’re just a fan of solid reggae), you’re likely to be floored by how well the Easy Star All-Stars have pulled this off.

Guitarist (and label co-founder) Michael Goldwasser and keyboardist Victor “Ticklah” Axelrod (also a member of Afrobeat band Antibalas) were responsible for reconfiguring the tracks inna reggae style, and they’ve done so brilliantly.

The original’s opening heartbeat sounds are rendered on nyabinghi drums, potentially indulgent rock guitar solos are replaced by DJ chatting, and, in a particularly inspired move, “Money” is laced not with cash register cadences but the bubbling/coughing rhythms of a water pipe being smoked. But don’t get the idea that this is all played for laughs, for nothing could be further from the truth.

The gloomy life-cycle cynicism of the original is still the core aesthetic, and most of the distant, elusive sonic textures (such as the melancholy guitar and keyboard accents) are intact.

Essential to this reggae re-casting are the disc’s guest artists, with Frankie Paul nailing the frustrated but resigned tone of “Us and Them,” Kirsty Rock giving “The Great Gig in the Sky” the right anguished/orgasmic vocal wail, Ranking Joe and Dollarman toasting their way through the gaps and Dr. Israel doing sufficient damage to “Brain Damage.” Plus, there are a few dub versions at the end to make a good thing even better, enhancing the rock-to-reggae transition while adding an extra starkness that even Pink Floyd themselves likely couldn’t have envisioned.

I don’t know if the Easy Star gang embarked on this with a so-crazy-it-might-just-work outlook or the complete opposite, but let’s all be glad they saw it through.

This disc has gotten a lot of positive reviews already, and I’m pleased to add my voice to the chorus of approval.

Buy Dub Side of the Moon


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