Various Artists – Rudolstadt Festival 6 – 9 Juli 2017 (Galileo, 2017)
Rudolstadt Festival 6 – 9 Juli 2017 is a beautifully-packaged triple disc set featuring two audio CDs, a DVD and a hard cover book with photos and liner notes in German and English. This album features the artists that appeared in the 2017 edition of Rudolstadt Festival, one of the largest world music festivals in Europe.
Even though the focus in 2017 was the music of Scotland, the festival also brought in a wide range of artists from many other parts of the globe.
The highlights on disc 1 include Argentine composer Gerardo Jerez Le Cam, who combines Argentine folk with Eastern European infleunces; American folk diva Ani DiFranco; the dazzling virtuosity of Kurdish ensemble Nishtiman; mesmerizing choir Riho from the nation of Georgia; young Polish female ensemble Sutari; the spellbinding work of Tuultenpesä featuring two wind ensembles from Finland and Sweden; reggae stars Toots & The Maytals; a trio of virtuoso musicians: Efrén López (Spain), Stelios Petrakis (Greece) and Bijan Petrakis Chemirani (France/Iran); and the electric krar-fueled modern Ethiopian sound of Krar Collective.
The center of attention on disc 2 is Scotland. The highpoints includes Scottish roots band Fred Freeman Group; the cutting edge sounds of Niteworks, who mix Gaelic vocals, Celtic roots and electronica; acclaimed contemporary folk ensemble Breabach; the wonderful western-Indian fusion of Yorkston Thorne Khan featuring hypnotic sarangi; the lovely vocals of Margaret Stewart accompanied by Patsy Seddon on harp; the talented multi-instrumentalists Mairearad & Anna; fiddle master Paul Anderson; and the irresistible electric Ceilidh sound of Sketch.
Overall, Rudolstadt Festival 2017 is a fine sampling of some of the great world music out there and a good way to discover new artists.
Plena Libre, one of the great Puerto Rican bands rooted in tradition is back with another outstanding recording titled Amores en el Camino. The 12-piece powerhouse combines captivating rhythms like plena and bomba with jazz, salsa and global music elements.
The album opens with “Puerto Rico,” a song dedicated to this beautiful island that has suffered so much recently. This song signifies the Puerto Rican melting pot, where Afro-rooted traditions meet the Spanish poetic and guitar tradition in the form of the cuatro guitar, performed by guest Christian Nieves.
Amores en el Camino contains songs by band leader, bassist Gary Núñez and a new generation of plena songwriters.
On Amores en el Camino you’ll find other remarkable guests such as trumpet meaestro Luis “Perico” Ortiz and the steel drum from neighboring Trinidad and Tobago.
Amores en el Camino (Love’s Journey) received support from the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña and the National Endowment for the Arts.
With Amores en el Camino, Plena Libre demonstrates that it’s a the forefront of Puerto Rican music, showcasing the best of the island’s musical traditions.
Duke Performances will present a Black Atlantic, a captivating six-day world music festival, celebrating the music of Africa and the African diaspora. The festival takes place the last week of March 2018 at several venues in Durham, North Carolina .
The extraordinary program includes some of the finest artists from Africa and the Caribbean. The festival opens with acclaimed traditional Dominican bachata musician Joan Soriano. Next is one of Haiti’s top female performers, singer-songwriter Emeline Michel.
Afro-Venezuelan vocalist Betsayda Machado and her backing band La Parranda El Clavo are one of the sensations in the world music scene.
Mali produces an impressive amount of high quality talent. Trio da Kali is one of the new stars of the Malian scene. It’s a collaboration between some of Mali’s leading jeli (griot) musical families, Hawa Kassé Mady, daughter of Kassé Mady Diabaté; bala player Lassana Diabaté; and ngoni master Mamadou Kouyaté.
Honduran composer, singer-songwriter and activist Aurelio (Aurelio Martínez) is currently the most influential Garifuna artist. Aurelio will be presenting his new album Darandi released on Peter Gabriel’s Real world Records.
The last concert of Black Atlantic will present flamenco star Diego El Cigala with top salsa musicians. His most recent album Indestructible is a tribute to salsa music.
Black Atlantic Schedule
Joan Soriano (Dominican Republic)
Monday, March 26, 2018 at 20:00 (8:00 p.m.)
Motorco Music Hall
Emeline Michel (Haiti)
Tuesday, March 27, 2018 at 20:00 (8:00 p.m.)
Motorco Music Hall
Betsayda Machado y La Parranda El Clavo (Venezuela)
Wednesday, March 28, 2018 at 20:00 (8:00 p.m.)
Motorco Music Hall
Trio da Kali (Mali)
Thursday, March 29, 2018 at 20:00 (8:00 p.m.)
Motorco Music Hall
Friday, March 30, 2018 at 20:00 (8:00 p.m.)
Motorco Music Hall
Diego El Cigala (Spain/Dominican Republic)
Saturday, March 31, 2018 at 20:00 (8:00 p.m.)
Carolina Theatre of Durham
St. Patrick’s Day. How exactly did the Catholic patron saint feast day of the the people of Ireland, a relatively small island in the North Atlantic, evolve into a worldwide celebration? With festivities and parades in communities large and small that traverse from United States to Australia from Germany to Argentina from Japan to South Africa, the logical answer of course is the ability of the Irish to pick up and move to wherever the road takes them with all the mitigating factors of migration mixed in like famine, disease and oppression. By why this extravaganza of green? Some might point to mass marketing with promises of barrels of beer, a good time party and a lively parade in those dark days that mark the lull between Christmas and the genuine start of spring. The spread of St. Patrick’s Day by way of the cross pollination of culture seem so reasonable, so rational, so plausible.
But the Irish in me wants it to be us. The Irish in me wants it to be our storytelling, our music, our dance. Yes, the Irish in me wants it to be the utter surety that “if you knew us, you’d like us,” which I’m not sure if it makes us charmingly likable or just a wee bit obnoxious. Those not quite spring days of March seem a good time for us heathens in the Northern Hemisphere to settle in with a pint against the backdrop of a sweet tune and listen to someone’s Da tell a story that couldn’t possibly be true, but then again it just might. See, I have no doubt that there’s a Irishman out there, right now, that’s looking at a lovely woman and saying, “Ah, Mo stoirín, you remind me of a girl …” before weaving a fantastical tale. Perhaps that’s the real lure of St. Patrick’s Day.
To lure you in further let’s find some music for your St. Patrick’s Day and there is indeed some fine music this year to tempt you.
There’s the standard St. Patrick’s Day fare of Celtic Thunder’s Celtic Thunder X with tracks like “Sons of Light,” “Toora Loora Lay” and “The Wild Rover.” While a little overblown and a bit more commercial pop than I personally prefer, their version of “Lannigans Ball” is lively.
The late 2017 releases of Voice of the Celts and The Voice Within by Dulaman follow along the same vein, but “Dulaman,” “On Raglan Road,” “Sally Brown,” “The Sally Gardens” and Na Ceannabhain Bhana” are worth a listen. Also, Celtic Woman has put out Homecoming – Live From Ireland for Susan McFadden, Mairead Carlin, Eabha McMahon and Tara McNeil fans.
The Gap of Dreams by Altan is certain to set your Celtic heart all aflutter. The stunning bright and beautiful recording is full of the goodness of Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh’s vocals and fiddle, Ciaran Curran’s bouzouki, Daithi Sproule’s guitar and vocals, Mark Kelly’s guitar and vocals and Martin Tourish’s piano accordion. They threw in Tommy McLaughlin on keyboards just for kicks. On The Gap of Dreams fans get a dose of “The Gap of Dreams/Nia’s Jig/The Beekeeper,” “The Month of January,” “Nion a’ Bhaoigheallaigh” and “The Tullaghan Lasses/The Cameronian/The Pigeon on the Gate,” as well as “Cumha an Oileain” and the sweetly simple Mark Kelly composition “Port Alex.”
Equally delicious is the third offering Stri by Gaelic singer Maeve Mackinnon. Fans will want to check out this for tracks like “Iomaraibh Eutrom,” “Roisin Dubh,” “Dh’fhalbh Mo Run air an Aiseig” and “O Mo Cheist am Fear Ban.”
Fiddle fans will want to check out From Within by fiddler Eric Ryan-Johnson. This artist self release is packed with goodies like “Jigs: The Beginning/A Boy & His Dad/The Yelping Dog,” “Air: The Farmer of Florence,” “Reel: The Morning Cup,” “Air: February 23” and “Reels: The End Is Near/ Bound to Break.” And if that wasn’t enough sweet Celtic fiddle goodness for you, he’s also got The Wonderful Day on tap with treats like “Hornpipes: The Wonderful Day/The Bee’s Wings,” “Jigs: Knights of St. Patrick/Hast to the Wedding/Father O’Flynn’s,” “Air: Melody for Meredith Keefe,” “Reels: Bag of Potatoes/Blacksmith’s Reel/Castle Kelly” and “Reel: Coffin Ships.”
There’s Celtic Crumble’s Echos of Ireland with tracks like “Carry Me Home,” “The Rocky Road to Dublin,” “The Twins of Ballina” and title track “Echos of Ireland” to tempt fans.
Perhaps, a mixed bag of tricks will tickle your fancy. Well, then you might want to try out ARC music’s Discover Celtic Music. There are some real treats here with Aryeh Frankfurter’s “The Morning Dew,” Golden Bough’s “The Wren Boys/Gavin’s Hornpipe/Honeysuckle,” Noel Mclourghlin’s “The Hills of Connemara” and Mary Ann Kennedy’s “Air Leathad Sleibhe.” There’s also Gwyneth Glyn’s “Cwlwm,” Yvon Etienne’s “Si j’ai le courage,” Os Rosales’s “Muineira a Gatuxa” and Sian James’s “Mwynen merch.” Good stuff.
Pure Records has released Avenging and Bright by Damien O’Kane. Don’t let the goofy cover photo of Mr. O’Kane scare you off because this Northern Ireland singer and musician goes down silky smooth like the perfect pint on offerings like “Boston City,” title track “Avenging and Bright,” “All Among the Barley,” January Man,” and “Dancing in Puddles.” Mr. O’Kane’s vocal against piano, guitar and tenor guitar makes for some fine contemporary fare.
Perhaps one of my favorites has to be the Danny Diamond’s Elbow Room. This fiddler extraordinaire has played previously with Slow Moving Clouds and Morga, but on Elbow Room Mr. Diamond wows listeners simply by the shape and breadth of his own solo fiddler’s soul. Whether you’re a newbie listener or a seasoned Irish fiddle devotee, it’s easy to fall under the spell Mr. Diamond weaves on tracks like “Maureen from Gibberland,” “The Pinch of Snuff,” “Watching the Evening Grow,” “The Blackbird” and “Johnny Cope.” This is truly a fiddler’s delight.
The String Sisters have out Between Wind and Water. Irish vocalist and fiddler Mairead Ne Mhaonaigh, Norwegian Hardanger fiddler Annbjorg Lien, the American fiddler Liz Knowles, Shetland fiddler Catriona MacDonald, the American fiddler Liz Carroll and Swedish fiddler and vocalist Emma Hardelin have turned out some fine tunes on Between Wind and Water with jaunty tracks like “The Crow’s Visit,” “Hjaltland” and “Late Night in Forde.” Fans get morsels of sweetness like “Wind and Rain,” “Det bor I mina tankar” and “Mo Nion O.”
Another stunning fiddle recording is An Choill Uaigneach by Theresa Kavanagh. Hailing from Donegal, Ms. Kavanagh dazzles listener with the bright wildness of the fiddle on such tracks as “The Wild Swans of Coole/The Abandoned Meadow,” “Jocelyn’s/Grainne’s Jig” and “The Sword of Light/Secrets of the Willow,” and title track “An Choill Uaigneach” or “The Lonesome Forest” is elegant.
For Celtic fans looking for a little something off the beaten path might want to check out Plantec’s Live at the Festival Interceltique Lorient. These Breton Celtic rockers dole out a ferocious performance on this recording. Full of Breton bombard, guitar and synthesizer and programming, this is a definitive kick in the pants to any sweet version of “Danny Boy.” Recorded at the 2017 Lorient Inter Celtique Festival, Plantec’s Odran and Yannick Plantec and Gabriel Djibril kick some Celtic rock ass with tracks like “Croissant de letiez,” “Speedwell,” “Koun” and “Feulz.”
Another off the beaten path choice might be Celtic Rock Opera series recording “Excalibur IV The Dark Age of the Dragon” with music, lyrics and concept by Alan Simon. If you need a backing soundtrack for your noble quest down the highway or to the grocery store, well, here’s your music. Recorded with the Bohemian Symphony Orchestra Prague, this recording rocks out with electric guitars, drums and keyboards, as well as mandolins, Celtic harps and big bold vocals. It features Moya Brennan (Clannad), John Helliwell (Supertramp), Martin Barre (Jethro Tull), Michael Sadler (Saga),and Bernie Shaw (Uriah Heep).
Brona McVittie’s We Are the Wildlife is a lovely contemporary Celtic folk collection. Her sweet vocals on “Where the Angels Wake You,” “The Flower of Magherally“ and “Molly Brannigan” are intimate and mesmerizing. Add in Myles Cochran on “The Vast and Vague Extravagance That Lies at the Bottom of the Celtic Heart” and you definitely have a winner.
If atmospheric and ethereal is what you are looking for you might want to check out the Irish harpist Aine Minogue’s In the Name of Stillness Celtic Meditation Music. Ms. Minogue set us a serene loveliness from opening track “In the Name of Stillness” and through tracks like “Home of Belonging,” “In the Name of Solitude” and “Quiet Absence.”
Mary Ann Kennedy has An Dan: Gaelic Songs for a Modern World out on the ARC label. The Scottish singer has tracks like “Seinn, Horo, Seinn,” “Sith na Coille,” “Iain Againn Fhin” and “Air Leathad Sleibhe” on tap for listeners.
If Ulileann pipes, bouzouki, bodran, fiddle, flute and cello are on your wish list for the season, then you might want to take a listen to John McSherry’s The Seven Suns. A 2016 release that some how passed us by is bold and infectiously delightful. With tracks like “Dance of the Siog,” “The Atlantean,” “Sunrise at Bealtaine,” “The Golden Mean” and “The Cloghogle,” Mr. McSherry, along with fellow musicians Sean Og Graham, Niamh Dunne, Michael McGoldrick and Sean Warren, will have you and yours feting until the wee hours.
Another 2016 out on the Compass Records label that somehow also passed us by that is well worth a listen is Doolin‘ by the band of the same name. Doolin’ is a fine time and rollicking good fun with tracks like “Mary’s Jigs,” “Sailing Across the Ocean,” “The Road to Gleanntan,” “Wind Her Up” and “The Galway Girl.”
There’s also The Irishman’s Finest Collection by John Duhan. Starting out his career at the age of 15 as the front man for Limrick’s 1960s rock group Granny Intentions, Mr. Duhan would later turn to his own writing and solo recordings like The Voyage, Just Another Town and To the Light, as well as having some of his songs recording by heavyweights such as Christy Moore, The Dubliners and Mary Black. On The Irishman’s Finest Collection, Mr. Duhan lays bare the Irish soul by way of tracks like “Just Another Town,” “The Voyage,” “All I Need” and “The River Returning.”
Should musicians like Irla O Lionaird, Caoimhin O Raghallaigh, Dennis Cahill, Martin Hayes and Thomas Bartlett mean anything to you then you should drop whatever bit of nonsense you are doing and run around in a circle of delight. A bit of girlish screaming and arm waving wouldn’t go amiss either. If you hadn’t guessed these five musicians have out on the Real World label The Gloaming Live at the NCH . And let me say this recording is lovely, lovely and even more lovely. Be prepared to be entranced by the opening fiddle lines of “The Booley House,” through the sweet charms of Iarla O Lionaird’s vocals on “Cucanandy” and “The Sailor’s Bonnet” to the very Celtic magic of “The Pilgrim’s Song” and “The Rolling Wave” and all the way to the very end of “Fainleog.” You want this CD. You need it. Your very connection to all that expresses the sweetly joyful sorrowful Celtic soul depends on it.
Recorded at Dublin, Ireland’s National Concert Hall, The Gloaming Live at NCH is breathtakingly good, so good it’s hard not to feel a little giddy over this elegant work of voice, piano, Hardanger d’Amore, guitar and fiddle. You don’t even need to think about, just get it.
Finally, let me say that in regards to St. Patrick’s Day that I’m glad to know that we Irish aren’t hoarders of the holiday. There’s enough Irish to go around. That frothy pint doesn’t care a whit if you are saint or sinner. The fiddle tune doesn’t care if your are ferocious or feckless. You could be fool or faerie folk and you would still be welcome for what the Irish call comhaltacht – fellowship. So, settle in and listen to some good music and maybe somebody’s Da will tell you a story.
Cuban pianist Omar Sosa, one of the leading jazz pianists and Senegalese kora maestro Seckou Keita, along with Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles, are set to perform on Tuesday, March 20th at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro, North Carolina at 8:00 p.m.
The trio will present the US debut tour of their Transparent Water album. Transparent Water was the number 1 world music album in March 2017 at the Transglobal World Music Chart.
PunjabTronix is set to perform at 2018 SXSW Music Festival. The group recently toured the East Coast of the USA this March. PunjabTronix is a forward-looking experience of technology and cutting edge British electronic music connecting with the traditions of Punjab – culminating in an exciting new musical and visual experience.
PunjabTronix delivers live electronic dance music with Punjabi dhol drums, vocals, stringed instruments and the hypnotic sounding double flute algoza.
The group is a collaboration between award-winning British electronic music producer DJ Swami and an ensemble of acclaimed Punjabi musicians from Swami’s ancestral homeland in northern India: multi-instrumentalist Vijay Yamla on tumbi, tumba, algoza and bugchu; Dheera Singh on sarangi; percussionist Naresh Kuki on dhol and dholak; and vocalist Gurtej Singh.
PunjabTronix’s shows include striking visuals programmed live on-site by English filmmaker John Minton.
Redi Hasa and Maria Mazzotta is a remarkable duo representing two diverse European traditions. Redi Hasa is a remarkable Albanian cellist who appears in many of Ludovico Einaudi’s recordings. Maria Mazzotta is a passionate singer, one of the greatest voices from Salento in southern Italy.
Novilunio is the duo’s new collaboration. Here, Redi Hasa and Maria Mazzotta continue to explore the sounds from the two southern banks of the Adriatic Sea: Albanian music and southern Italy’s tarantellas; although this time the two musicians go beyond, incorporating evocative classical music, jazz, Mediterranean, Moroccan and Middle Eastern influences.
On most of the songs Maria Mazzotta the Apulian dialect, while she sings in French on two tracks.
Novilunio is a beautifully constructed album that brings together the wonderful voice of Maria Mazzotta and the spectacular, versatile cello of Redi Hasa.
Although Al Di Meola became famous as an outstanding and pioneering jazz-rock fusion guitarist, he’s demonstrated throughout the years that his music goes much further, crossing numerous musical boundaries. Opus is a very special album. Here, Al Di Meola showcases his talent as a musician and composer in various ways.
Musically, Al Di Meola treats the listener to an exquisite set of original shape-shifting pieces where you’ll find jazz, fusion, classical, Italian music, flamenco and Argentine musical influences.
More impressive is the fact that Al Di Meola plays practically every instrument on the album. In addition to guitars, he also plays percussion, keyboards and bass and does a great job indeed. In a handful of tracks, Al Di Meola has guest musicians on piano, keyboards and drums.
The recording of the guitars is pure delight. On every track you’ll hear a mix of guitars all played by Al Di Meola. The mixing lets you enjoy guitars on different channels, delivering masterful interplay. In addition, he adds soft ambient electric guitar effects that coat lightly the acoustic guitar sounds.
Al Di Meola uses his favorite Conde Hermanos acoustic nylon guitar throughout the album along with his trademark spectacular electric guitar solos. Conde Hermanos make some of the best guitars in the world and they sound splendid in Al Di Meola’s hands.
“With Opus, I wanted to further my compositional skills as I think that the evolution of this part of my persona has labelled me more composer-guitarist than guitarist-composer”, articulates Di Meola. “For the first time in my life, I have written music being happy, I’m in a wonderful relationship with my wife, I have a baby girl and a beautiful family that inspires me every day. I believe it shows in the music.”
Opus features Al Di Meola on guitars, cajon, snare, toms, drums, bass, electric effects; Kemuel Roig on acoustic piano; Dario Eskenazi on keyboards; Richie Morales on drums; and Rhani Krija on percussion.
Opus is a magnificently-crafted, genre defying album by one of the finest guitarists in the world, Al Di Meola.
Ellas Crean, a festival dedicated to women performers and creators is taking place during March and April 2018 in Madrid, Spain. The acclaimed series is supported by various cultural entities and national museums, associations, international culture institutes, and other entities. The series will feature more than 100 activities and half a thousand artists. Some of the key events include music, dance and theater as well as different projects of social and educational nature. Additionally, there will several round tables focusing on inequality in the performing and musical arts, featuring representatives of the main professional associations of women in the arts.
Conde Duque is once again the main venue for this festival. The music part of the festival will present quality, diversity and a mixture of tradition and innovation, performed by both established and emerging artists, and with free admission until venues are full.
Flamenco will be part of the music events, featuring the deep song of Carmen Linares singing to Miguel Hernández in the presentation of her album Verso a verso; and the flamenco effervescence of the Nuevo Jerez show, by two young cantaoras (singers) with both family tradition and future, María Terremoto and Lela Soto.
The world music side of the music events includes Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi, “the voice of the Arab Spring”, renovator of traditional Arabic music with electronic sounds. Syrian vocalist Linda Al-Ahmad will showcase her music in collaboration with Casa Árabe. She will pay homage to three divas of the Arab song: Umm Kulzum (Egypt), Asmahan (Syria) and Fairuz (Lebanon).
Two Spanish emerging artists are included this year, Elena Setién, presenting Dreaming of Earthly Things and Judit Neddermann.
Classical music will be featured with a tribute to the composer Teresa Catalán, recent National Music Prize, featuring mezzo-soprano Marta Knörr and pianist Mario Prisuelos. The prestigious female Tiburtina Ensemble from the Czech Republic will present the Medieval music repertoire of Hildegard von Bingen, a nun that was an influential composer in ther Middle Age.
Two jazz artists are part of the program: avant-garde jazz American pianist Myra Melford and Polish bassist Kinga Glyk.
Irish singer and instrumentalist Eleanor McEvoy will present her folk-rock inspired by Irish traditions.
In addition to these shows, many of Madrid’s live music venues have scheduled concerts featuring women through La Noche en Vivo, with support from the Community of Madrid (regional government).
Wednesday, March 7
Carmen Linares (Spain)
Canta a Miguel Hernández – Flamenco,
Auditorio Conde Duque – 20:00 h – free admission
Friday, March 9
Elena Setién (Spain)
Auditorio Conde Duque – 19:00 – free admission, tickets available at 18.00 h
Friday, March 9
Judit Neddermann (Spain)
Auditorio Conde Duque – 20:30 – free admission, tickets available at 18.00 h
Tuesday, March 13
Tiburtina Ensemble (Czech Republic)
Medieval, Egom Sum Homo: Visiones musicales de Hildegard von Bingen
Auditorio Conde Duque – 20:00 – free admission, retirada invitaciones from 17.00 h
Thursday, March 15
Myra Melford (USA)
Auditorio Conde Duque – 20:00 – free admission