Tag Archives: United States of America

Artist Profiles: Extra Golden

Extra Golden

Extra Golden is an international collaboration between Kenyan and American musicians. Americans Ian Eagleson and Alex Minoff were formerly of the band Golden; Kenyans are Otieno Jagwasi, Opiyo Bilongo and Onyango Wuod Omari joined in collaboration.

Since 2000, Otieno had been assisting Ian in documenting benga, a guitar-heavy kind of dance music (similar to Congolese rumba) that has been popular in Kenya since the 1960s. In 2004, Ian was in Kenya for a year-long visit to do research for his doctoral thesis on benga, and again was working closely with Otieno. This time, they had a portable laptop studio at their disposal, and did several recordings of Otieno’?s latest band, Orchestra Hit Sounds International, as well as many other groups that Otieno helped arrange. Alex and Ian had already planned on meeting up in Kenya to do some recordings, so this offered them a unique opportunity to explore some of the benga-inspired ideas that had been present in some of Golden’s music. In April of 2004, following a UK tour with his other group, Weird War, Alex visited Nairobi, and Extra Golden came to be.

The group’s future was uncertain after the unfortunate loss of singer/guitarist/co-founder Otieno Jagwasi in 2005. The release of the band’s debut, Ok-Oyot System, in 2006 seemed to be a posthumous affair, but an invitation to perform at the 2006 Chicago World Music Festival presented an intriguing opportunity for a US concert debut and a return to the studio. The group called on Opiyo Bilongo to fill the void, a singer/guitarist who has been a dangerous presence on the Kenyan Benga scene for over a decade. Guitarist Ian Eagleson had helped Bilongo record two albums with his group Bilongo Golden Stars back in 2004, sessions that are highlighted on Bilongo’s debut U.S. release, What Do People Want? released on Kanyo Records. Onyango Wuod Omari, whose singular drumming punctuated Ok-Oyot System, would also make the trip.

For several months and through almost interminable hassles, Eagleson and guitarist Alex Minoff worked feverishly with Onyango Jagwasi (brother of the late Otieno) to make Extra Golden’s concert debut a reality. After countless international phone calls, a great deal of hustling and some help from people in high places (the office of Illinois Senator Barack Obama helped the group clear their final visa hurdles), Opiyo Bilongo and Onyango Wuod Omari got their visas just a few hours before their scheduled departure. This would be the first journey outside of East Africa for both benga stars.

Six weeks of memorable performances followed at both rock venues and private Kenyan functions. Afterwards, Extra Golden retreated to an isolated location on Lake Wallenpaupack in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. As with Ok-Oyot System, the band recorded using their ?Nyathi Otenga Flying Studio,? but the session for Hera Ma Nono couldn?t have been more different. Instead of three hours in an open-air Nairobi nightclub, the group had five days in a private house. They had access to a variety of guitar amplifiers and effects, and perhaps the biggest difference was the drumkit. The set that Onyango used on Ok-Oyot System was, to be kind, broken. In Pennsylvania, he had a fully-functional kit with a large assortment of tom-toms. These new amenities helped to take the band?s sound in a new direction.

Hera Ma Nono is Luo for Love in Vain, is one theme that reverberates throughout the album. While on “I Miss You,” “Love Hijackers” and the title track, it refers to the love that exists between two people. This same theme applies in less traditional ways in other songs. “Jakolando” and “Brothers Gone Away” illustrate the cruelty of prematurely losing family members and friends. “Street Parade” praises the citizens and culture of New Orleans, who despite a passionate allegiance to their home are punished by its harsh ecology. In a more upbeat lyrical turn, “Obama” is in thanks to the senator and others who helped Extra Golden reunite to make this recording. Such songs of praise are benga custom, and in keeping with that custom. Obama’s wife and mother received thanks as well. Finally, “Night Runners” contemplates the jajuok, the creepy, nocturnal creatures of Luo folklore.

Through it all, Hera Ma Nono shows that, while the defining element of Extra Golden may be its cross-cultural cooperation, styles of rock and benga are not quite as disparate as some may believe. Both arose from people cranking up electric guitars and singing melodic songs over propulsive rhythms in an attempt to entertain an audience. Though they may have to cross seas and petition governments just to play a few shows, the members of Extra Golden go about their work with a few simple goals in mind – to write songs that tell stories of life, love and loss; to praise people and places that are dear to their hearts; and, most of all, to create a sound that people of different backgrounds and generations can enjoy.


Ok-Oyot System (Thrill Jockey Records, 2006)
Hera Ma Nono (Thrill Jockey, 2007)
Thank You Very Quickly (Thrill Jockey, 2009)


Artist Profiles: Randal Bays

Randal Bays

A masterful guitarist, Randal first garnered international attention on Green Linnet’s landmark recording with Irish fiddle phenomenon Martin Hayes. Rooted in both Irish and jazz traditions, as fiddler Randal is blessed with a wonderfully light touch on the bow and a rhythm and lift that bounces the tunes along without ever feeling hurried. He frequently appears with Dáithí Sproule, guitarist of the Irish supergroup Altan.


Celtic Music Of The Northwest (1982)
The Rashers (1988)
Pigtown Fling, with Joel Bernstein (Foxglove Records, 1996)
Out Of The Woods (Foxglove Records, 1997)
The Salmon’s Leap (Foxglove Records, 2000)
House To House, with Roger Landes (Foxglove Records, 2004)
Overland, with Dáithí Sproule (Foxglove Records, 2004)
Katy Bar The Door (Foxglove Records, 2006)
Fingal, with Dáithí Sproule and James Keane (New Folk Records, 2008)
Dig With It, with Dave Marshall (Foxglove Records, 2009)
Oyster Light (Foxglove Records)
The Quiet Pint (Foxglove Records, 2014)
A Rake Of Tunes (Foxglove Records, 2014)


Artist Profiles: Patrick Street

Patrick Street

The Irish “supergroup” Patrick Street began with four recognized masters – Kevin Burke (ex-Bothy Band), singer/bouzouki player Andy Irvine (ex-Planxty), Jackie Daly (ex-De Dannan), and multi-instrumentalist Ged Foley (formerly of the Battlefield Band, and now in The House Band)-joining forces for a tour in 1986. Over a decade later, the group reached “legendary” status.

Fiddler Kevin Burke was born in London, England to Irish parents who came originally from Sligo, an area renowned for its traditional music, particularly that of the fiddle. As a teenager he played in music clubs throughout England and Ireland, but in 1972 a chance meeting with Arlo Guthrie brought him to the USA to play on Arlo’s album, Last Of The Brooklyn Cowboys (he would eventually make the country his home).

At Christy Moore’s beckoning, Kevin moved for a period to Ireland to join what would become one of the most influential Irish groups of the 1970s, The Bothy Band. After the band’s breakup, he recorded two classic duo albums and toured with Bothy Band guitarist Míchéal O’Domhnaill. He has also made his presence felt as a member of both The Celtic Fiddle Festival (with Johnny Cunningham) and the leader of the Irish-American outfit Open House.

As a founder of Patrick Street, Kevin gave the band’s sound and repertoire a highly ornamented Sligo fiddle style that is both “in the tradition” and full of multi-cultural surprises. “My style is a definite composite,” he said. “The old Sligo players provided the building blocks but I’ve borrowed bits and pieces from all sorts of musicians along the way.”

Andy Irvine (vocals/bouzouki/mandolin) is one of the great balladeers of Irish music. His voice is one of a handful of truly great ones that gets to the very soul of Ireland. He was a member of two other groundbreaking groups, Sweeney’s Men (with Johnny Moynihan) and Planxty (with Christy Moore) and has worked closely with Paul Brady. Album collaborations include work with De Danann, Maddy Prior, June Tabor and Dick Gaughan.

If his voice explores an aching Irish romanticism, his remarkable bouzouki playing has brought a Balkan edge to his musical collaborations. Andy was one of the first to bring bouzouki and Bulgarian music to the Irish tradition. His collaborative album East Wind with Riverdance composer Bill Whelan featured Hungarian singer Marta Sebestyen.

Accordionist Jackie Daly comes from North Cork and plays in the style of Sliabh Luachra, the area bordering Kerry and North Cork and encompassing such towns as Castleisland and Jackie’s home, Kanturk. Sliabh Luachra is a regional style known for its lively slides and lovely, spirited polkas (of which Jackie is a master). He was a member of the famous Irish group De Dannan and has toured or recorded with the likes of Dolores Keane, Buttons And Bows, Kevin Burke (as a duo), John Faulkner and Seamus Creagh.

Ged Foley (guitar/fiddle) was born in County Durham in the North East of England. Ged (pronounced “Jed”) was a one-time member of Scotland’s The Battlefield Band and is a founding member of The House Band. For a time, he worked in a duo with the excellent English singer/songwriter Jez Lowe. He replaced original Patrick Street member Arty McGlynn in 1996. Ged is a superb guitarist, a singer of distinction with a dry, spare, unornamented style (once heard never forgotten) and a player of both the fiddle and the Northumbrian smallpipes. He currently lives in the USA.

In 2007, multi-instrumentalist John Carty joined Patrick Street. That same year, Jackie Daly left the band. Ged Foley left Patrick Street in 2009, and was replaced on a temporary basis by guitarist Arty McGlynn.


Patrick Street ‎(Green Linnet, 1987)
No. 2 Patrick Street (Green Linnet, 1988)
Irish Times (1990)
All In Good Time (Green Linnet, 1993)
Cornerboys ‎(Green Linnet, 1996)
Made In Cork ‎(Green Linnet, 1997)
Live From Patrick Street ‎(Green Linnet, 1999)
Street Life ‎(Green Linnet, 2002)
On The Fly ‎(Loftus Music, 2007)


Artist Profiles: Naser Khorasani

Naser Khorasani

A member of the American Psychological Association, Naser Khorasani (daf) is a Psychologist specializing in music therapy and meditation.

He was born in Tabriz, Iran in 1971. He is a highly respected master of Persian Classical Music Theory and Practice, and especially of the daf, which is the musical instrument most used in Persian spiritual practices, as well as the tanboor.


The howling


Artist Profiles: Mamak Khadem

Mamak Khadem

Born in Iran, Mamak Khadem was part of the Children’s Choir for National Radio and Television, and immigrated to the U. S. as a teenager in 1976. After the Iranian Revolution of 1979, her passion for singing and learning traditional Persian vocal styles grew.

When I think of my childhood, my memories are inseparable from the melodies that touched my soul when I was growing up. It was through establishing this personal relationship with music as well as my training at the children’s choir for National Radio and Television of Iran that my musical education began. But it was not until the late 1970s and after the revolution that I truly became inspired to learn Persian traditional vocals.” Thus Mamak Khadem sums up her musical background.

She was inspired by works of master musicians in the 1980s and regularly traveled back to Iran to study with prominent vocalists and musicians. She also studied classical Indian singing at Ali Akbar Khan College of Music in northern California and Eastern European singing with the Los Angeles-based women’s choir Nevenka.

In 1992, Mamak joined Axiom of Choice, and over the next ten years created three albums with the group. Khadem embarked on a solo career and in 2007 released a new solo recording, Jostojoo (Forever Seeking). Inspired by her travels throughout the Middle East, Khadem adapts Persian poetry to rearranged traditional melodies from various regions of Iran, Baluchistan, Armenia, Turkey, Greece and Kurdistan.

Mamak Khadem

Khadem has also been a featured performer on several film and television scores, including The Peacemaker, Traffic, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Battlestar Galactica. She sang music composed by Iranian ethnomusicologist Mohammad Reza Darvishi for the play Majles-e Shabih (by renowned Iranian playwright and director Bahram Bayzaie). In addition, Khadem has recorded with Turkish singer Omar Faruk Tekbilek (on the album Alif), Jamshied Sharifi (on A Prayer for the Soul of Layla) and Tulku (on Season of Souls, compiled on the Buddha Bar series).



Jostojoo: Forever Seeking (Banyan Tree, 2007)
A Window to Color (2011)
The Road (Innova, 2015)

With Axiom of Choice:

Beyond Denial (Faray-e Enkaar) (X Dot 25, 1996)
Niya Yesh (Narada World, 2000)
Unfolding (Goshayesh) (Narada World, 2002)


Artist Profiles: Mayook Bhaumik

Mayook Bhaumik

Mayookh Bhaumik was born on November 14, 1977 in New Jersey. He began performing on television, radio and various stages from the age of five. He was acknowledged as a child prodigy by Ali Akbar Khan in 1981 at the age of four. At seven, he won the “Ny State Under 18 Science Award” for creating an original string instrument.

Mayookh returned to India to train under Pandit Jnan Prakash Ghosh and later from Ustad Sabir Khan of the Farukhabad Gharana. He also studies with Kathak legend, Padmabhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj. He is presently under the able tutelage of Pandit Kumar Bose of the Benares Gharana.

Mayookh entered the music industry very early and was a recording studio musician at the age of twelve. He has played with various artistes of global repute includingUstad Vilayat Khan, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Pandit Birju Maharaj, Pandit Jasraj, Pandit V. G. Jog, Pandit Monilal Nag, Pandit Ramesh Misra, Tarun Bhattacharya, Niladri Kumar, Prattyush Banerjee, Arnab Chakraborty, Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Ustad Farukh Fateh Ali Khan, Snehashish Mozumder, Jean Michel Pilc, and Ustad Sabir Khan.

He is featured on over fifteen released and internationally marketed albums including his solo album “The Beginning” on Gathani Records and also with Pandit V.G. Jog, Smt. Purnima Chaudhari, Ustad Sabir Khan, Pandit Ramesh Misra. Mayookh has worked on film music in India and the United States as a composer and recording artist.


Jaja (2013)
On My Tab (2014)
Requiem for a Tillana (2014)
FZCK (Take one) (2015)
Teri Soorat- Aziz Miyaan Homage, with Kinan Azmeh (2017)


Artist Profiles: Ambi Subramaniam

Ambi Subramaniam

Ambi Subramaniam was born August 5, 1991 in Los Angeles, California, the son of violin maestro L. Subramaniam.

Ambi gave his first performance at the age of seven and has already performed in India and abroad. He was part of a special performance at the Gateway of India in 2003, featuring the violin greats L. Subramaniam and Jean Luc Ponty.

Ambi plays Western and Karnatic violin with equal ease. Ambi accompanies his father for Karnatic concerts including a concert at the prestigious Dussehra Festival at the Mysore Palace and during the Centenary Celebration of the Banglaore Gayana Samaj.


Violin Virtuoso (Navras, 2008)
Live at Neues Gewandhaus Germany (2009)
Violin Maestros (2009)
Visions of India (2010)
Violins for Peace (2010)
Global Symphony (2011)
Aadi Ganesh (2012)
Indian Violin (Viji Records, 2012)
Global Traditions (2013)
SaPa Baby Vol. I, II, III (2014)
Just Playing (Viji Records, 2016)
Live at Krishna Gana Sabha (Viji Records, 2017)
You Were There, with SubraMania (2017)
Bhajans for Kids (Viji Records, , 2017)

– featured soloist


Artist Profiles: Andreas Kapsalis Trio

Andreas Kapsalis

Andreas Kapsalis is a Greek American born in Illinois. The Andreas Kapsalis Trio represents the perfect alliance of eight-fingered guitar virtuosity, outstanding melodic themes and rhythmic variations on percussion. Kapsalis’s solo guitar orchestra (his guitar playing often sounds like three guitarists not one) and the pulse of African and Middle Eastern drums, played by versatile percussionists Jamie Gallagher and Darren Garvey, define their previously unexplored style, often described as Tribal Mediterranean.

Elements of Americana, flamenco, Greek, African and Arabic music are part of the mix, each receiving equal time. Recently, Kapsalis scored his first film, the documentary Black Gold, which premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.


The Andreas Kapsalis Trio (2004)
Original Scores (2008)
Guitar Duo, with Goran Ivanovic (2010)
Blackmail, with Goran Ivanovic (2013)
Anastasi (2016)


Artist profiles: Unspoken Tradition

Unspoken Tradition

Unspoken Tradition is a North Carolina bluegrass band inspired by traditional music and other influences. Their material is primarily original and mirrors the ever-changing culture of Western and Central North Carolina where they are based.

The band released an independent debut album, Simple Little Town (2013) that was well received. Their follow up recording was Miles Between (2015).

In 2015, Unspoken Tradition played the main stage at the historic MerleFest festival and has quickly grown a dedicated following in North Carolina and beyond.

The Unspoken Tradition lineup in 2018 included Audie McGinnis on guitar and vocals; Lee Shuford on bass and vocals; Zane McGinnis on banjo; Ty Gilpin on mandolin and vocals; and Tim Gardner on fiddle and vocals.


Simple Little Town (2013)
Miles Between (2015)


Artist Profiles: Jerry Holland

Jerry Holland

Jerry Holland was a giant among fiddlers, one of the best North America has ever produced. He was one of the best-known Cape Breton musicians of his generation, and many of his own tunes have entered the traditional repertoire.

Jerry Holland was born February 23, 1955 in Brockton, Massachusetts. Starting the fiddle around the age of five, Jerry was performing publicly by age six. At ten, he was playing for Bill Lamey’s dances in Brookline, Massachusetts. It was during this time that Jerry began his association with fine piano accompanists such as Doug MacPhee, Eddie Irwin and Mary Jessie Mac Donald, and by the age of twelve, he was playing guitar for Angus Chisholm and Bert Foley on a regular basis.

Jerry’s family made annual summer visits to Cape Breton when he was a boy, and his musician father exposed him to some of the last generation’s greatest Cape Breton fiddlers. A Cape Breton resident since 1975, for four years, Jerry was a regular on The John Allan Cameron Show, a television program originating from Montreal where Jerry shared the stage with his hero, Winston Fitzgerald, and fiddlers Angus Chisholm, Joe Cormier, Wilfred Gillis and John Donald Cameron. During the years that the show ran, Jerry had to learn more than a thousand tunes, and acquired a vast repertoire of traditional Cape Breton fiddle music.

Jerry Holland

Because Cape Breton is remote, its fiddle music and dancing retains the old Scottish style, a tradition that Jerry devoted his energies to preserving and promoting through his books, recordings, and memorable concert tours throughout Canada, the US, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Germany, Mexico, England and France.

Jerry Holland died July 16, 2009 in North Sydney, Nova Scotia.


Jerry Holland (Rounder Records, 1976)
Master Cape Breton Fiddler (1982)
Lively Steps (1987)
Jerry Holland Solo (1988)
The New Fiddle (1990)
A Session With Jerry Holland (1990)
Fathers and Sons (1992)
The Fiddlesticks Collection (Green Linnet, 1995)
Fiddler’s Choice (1998)
Crystal Clear (2000)
Parlor Music (Rounder, 2005)
Helping Hands (2009)
Jerry Holland and Friends (Fiddlesticks Music , 2010)