Sunday, August 30, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Eden Mi Qedem (Eden From The East)
Sunday, August 16, 2009
If the world had a soundtrack, Strange Cousin would be it. Tribecastan attempts to showcase the world's music with various percussion, wind, string, and less-commonly-played instruments. For instance, one track, 'Tribecastani Traffic Jam', contains a Pakistani Taxi Horn. This is an instrument aficionado's fantasy. Some instruments you will hear include the penny whiste, bendir, riq, fujara, tupan, shells, mandolin, bamboo flute, koncova, dutar, tambur, Indian oboe, kanun, and many, many more. As expected, Strange Cousin picks up sounds from around the world, most notably from Europe, Central Asia, and the Mediterranean. Sometimes albums fall short when they try to incorporate too much, but Tribecastan succeeds, because each track is different and it's delivered in focused moderation. This is a 99% instrumental album with only a spattering of vocals. It's a wonderful journey to begin--and it starts in a place called New York City. ~ Matthew Forss
One of Mali's great female vocalists, Oumou Sangare presents us with her fifth album since 1989. Seya, otherwise known as 'joy', is an energetic release celebrating life, love, happiness, and independence. An impressive array of a few dozen contributors lend talents throughout the album's tracks. As a result, the tracks are richly embossed with an array of instrumentation and funky beats. Oumou's musical origins from southern Mali serve as a continued influence in her music. For instance, she combines a Wassoulou groove with a kamale n'goni instrument to honor past Wassoulou singers on 'Donso'. Seya contains great vocal melodies, pleasant rhythms, and unique instrumentation. The traditional instrumentation is played in such a way to seem more contemporary. This is funk, afro-beat, highlife, and everything in-between. Pick it up today! ~ Matthew Forss
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Decidedly Afrocentric and socially conscious, Arrested Development is the antithesis to the gansta rap movement of the 1990s. The meaningful lyrics, solid rhythm section, and funky dance moves had the audience pulsating to the beat. A folk festival is indeed a unique venue for this kind of music, but just goes to show that it caters to people with a wide spectrum of musical appreciation. ~ Paula E. Kirman
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The band's 25th anniversary compilation, Spirituality, was released last year. Spirit of the West also still tours on a regular basis, most recently as the opening act for Great Big Sea.
Spirit of the West also performed this past weekend at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. Maintaining a high energy level, the band had people dancing in front of the stage and into the beer gardens, especially to such classics as "Political," "Save This House," and "Home For a Rest." ~ Paula E. Kirman
Monday, August 10, 2009
Dressed in traditional Mongolian garb, the members of Hanggai took to the stage at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival this past weekend for a workshop entitled "Newgrass." Along with The SteelDrivers, Hanggai performed some incredibly energetic music combining electric guitar work with traditional Asian instruments. One piece in particular, which kept getting faster and faster with every verse, had the audience clapping and dancing.
Mixing throat singing with rock sounds is a very unique musical combination. The band is based in Beijing and is starting to get the international recognition it deserves. ~ Paula E. Kirman
I was, of course, very familiar with Daby Touré's music before seeing him perform this past weekend at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. Seeing him live helped me gain a whole new appreciation for his work. With a very laid-back and friendly approach (I don't think the smile ever left his face) he rhythmically strummed his guitar and presented songs about life and love. His songs never get repetitive and are downright captivating.
If you ever get the chance to see Daby Touré live, don't pass up the chance. ~ Paula E. Kirman
Hot Tuna is one of those bands whose reputation precedes them. A career of performing some of the finest blues-rock music ever made over four decades, to call this San Francisco-formed band legendary seems like a understatement.
According to the CBC's Holger Peterson, who introduced Hot Tuna's Sunday afternoon concert at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival on August 9, this was the band's first-ever appearance in Alberta. Looking around at the audience, I could tell some had waited a long time for this moment to come.
Founding members Jorma Kaukonen (vocals and guitar) and Jack Cassidy (bass) are still the core of the band, adding mandolin player Barry Mitterhoff. Acoustically slipping and sliding their way through traditional and original blues tunes, the trio captivated everyone watching. Particularly spectacular was Kaukonen's finger-picking and strong vocals, which at times reminded me of the late Jerry Garcia.
The numerous instrumental breakdowns and musical back-and-forth between all of the members made a hot afternoon even hotter. ~ Paula E. Kirman
Still actively recording and touring, the band was in Edmonton this past weekend for the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. Performing on the Saturday afternoon main stage, Oysterband was in fine form. Smooth music, clear vocals, and an engaging stage presence had the crowd captivated.
Oysterband has been reaching a new audience in recent years. Some of their songs have taken a political direction and has put them in solidarity with fellow British musicians Chumbawumba (who were performing acoustically throughout the festival as well). The two bands have performed and recorded together on numerous occasions.
The band's latest album is entitled The Oxford Girl & Other Stories and contains stripped-down re-recordings of some of the bands favourite songs from throughout its 30 year history. Lead singer John Jones also recently put out a solo recording called Rising Road. ~ Paula E. Kirman
Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir was another Edmonton Folk Music Festival discovery for me. I had heard rumblings about the band (all good) and had a chance to check them out during a jam session workshop with Daby Touré and Hot Tuna. Thumping acoustic bass, twanging guitars, and vocals with all the grit and soul of an old Bluesman - I was so impressed, I checked out the band's latest album Ten Thousand on iTunes when I got back from the festival.
If you like traditional Blues music but are open to something different, you need to check out the Agnostic Mountain Gospel Choir. ~Paula E. Kirman
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Although this was the first time I had heard of Great Lake Swimmers, judging from the enthusiastic and plentiful crowd the band already has an established following. Indeed, the band already has four albums under its belt, the latest being Lost Channels which was released this past March.
What catches me most about Great Lake Swimmers is the atmosphere of the music. Rootsy with an upbeat tempo and just a hint of twang at times, Tony Dekker's understated vocals set the tone for his songs that are hauntingly beautiful. The songs have a dreamy feel to them without becoming repetitive.
I have no doubt that Great Lake Swimmers gained some new fans during their Folk Fest performance -I can personally attest to that! ~ Paula E. Kirman
The Skydiggers is one of those bands that has fallen through the cracks time and time again. Deserving far more acclaim than it has received, The Skydiggers has been the repeated victim of record labels going under and as a result, has never been promoted to the extent it should be.
Known for melodic, harmonious songs like "I Will Give You Everything," "A Penny More," and "Slow Burning Fire," The Skydiggers are celebrating 20 years as band. Members have come and gone (most notably co-singer/songwriter Andrew Cash - Peter's brother) but the core trio of the lively and eccentric Andy Maize on lead vocals, Josh Finlayson on guitar, and Ron Macey on bass has endured.
The Skydiggers recently released a retrospective entitled The Truth About Us which features remastered versions of most of the band's best-known songs. The band still tours actively as well, and was in Edmonton for the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, playing a concert on August 8. The hour-long set saw fans old and new alike swaying and singing along.
As someone who owns the band's first album on cassette, I could not help but feel nostalgic when the host announced that The Skydigger's was celebrating 20 years this year. And despite the blazing heat of the summer afternoon, I broke out in goosebumps when they performed "I Will Give You Everything." Andy Maize was in fine form with his frenzied body movements and facial expressions, making witty quips in between songs.
The Skydiggers continue to be one of the hardest-working bands in the Canadian music scene. Hopefully, it won't take another 20 years for The Skydiggers to gets its due. ~ Paula E. Kirman