Thursday, August 25, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
One World Sovereignty
The funky, hip-hop, and soul infections of Nappy Riddem cover many genres and styles of American, South American, and Caribbean music. The brainchild behind Nappy Riddem is the duo of Rex Riddem and Mustafa Akbar. Based in Washington, D.C., Nappy Riddem creates dance tracks, funky loops, sizzling percussion, and alternative-pop lyrics with a societal awareness that graces each track. The funk-driven "Shango" contains more of an urban, African beat with a bit of soul thrown in. "DTA (Dreadlock Transit Authority)" is a reggae-infused track with funky beats and a groovy bass line. "Suspicious Love" is a jazzy, groove-ladened track with the smoothness of a French downtempo score or a Zero 7 track. At any rate, Nappy Riddem is a formidable force in the world of global funk and groove. One World Sovereignty reflects Nappy Riddem's global appeal. ~ Matthew Forss
Friday, August 12, 2011
Skyscrapers & Deities
No Format Records
Kouyate-Neerman is the shortened version of the names Lansine Kouyate and David Neerman. Lansine is a Paris-based and Malian-born balafon extraordinaire, while David is a French musician with piano and percussion training. David plays the vibraphone throughout the album, with additional noise effects and distortions for a truly, avant-garde musical experience that is more urban than traditional. The mostly instrumental music stems from the double bass, balafon, vibraphone, kora, and drums. The only vocals on the album occur on 'Haiti' by Anthony Joseph. Famed kora maestro, Ballake Sissoko, adds his personal touches throughout with crystalline results. Skyscrapers & Deities surfs a fine line between traditionalism and modernism, whilst covering new age, jazz, downtempo, trance, and experimental genres in the process. Kouyate-Neerman is a solid duo with something to offer for everyone. ~ Matthew Forss
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Natch'l Blues is Canada's longest-running blues radio program, on CKUA since 1969. It is also the name of a Saturday afternoon session at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival featuring a powerful combination of artists.
Janiva Magness hosted the stage and performed her sultry, modern blues to an enthusiastic response. She was accompanied by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band from New Orleans, who also did a few numbers on their own.
Duke Robillard to the stage, and the entire group of musicians at that point played off of each other perfectly.
Then, came the biggest thrill yet: John Mayall, legendary British blues musician, performed a couple of songs with Joe Louis Walker. At 77, Mayall can still rock the house.
Natch'l Blues was one of the most exciting sessions of the weekend, with accomplished musicians strutting their stuff - naturally! ~Paula E. Kirman
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Kila is a band that has been making waves in Ireland for years with its mix of traditional Irish music with world fusion. Featured on the Saturday afternoon main stage at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, I did not know what to expect as the band was completely new to me, and to others with whom I spoke.
From the hypnotizing beat of the bodhran to the melodies of the pipes, Kila performed a very unique set. There was a lot of energy in the music. All of these guys are accomplished musicians in their own rights, as well as several of the being published authors and poets.
I have a strong feeling that it is in their live performances where Kila really shines. They are very visual and the music lends itself very well to a festival atmosphere. ~Paula E. Kirman
When The Mighty Popo tells the audience to get up and dance, they listen. The African rhythms of this vocalist/guitarist/songwriter are absolutely infections, as proven during a Saturday side stage concert. Now based in eastern Canada, Mighty Popo has Rwandan/Burundi roots and won a Juno in 2005 for "Best World Music Album of the Year." Energetic and lively, The Mighty Popo lives up to his name. ~Paula E. Kirman
Some performers need no introduction. Lyle Lovett is one of them. He performed with his full band, including a horn section, on the Sunday evening main stage, and also solo as part of a session full of Texas singer/songwriters on Sunday afternoon called "Influences." That session definitely had the largest audience I had seen all weekend for a session stage. His voice is calm, his delivery smooth, and he had the audience drawn in every note of the way. What else can be said about a consummate performer? ~Paula E. Kirman
I still listen to the album Strays, the debut from a then-unknown eastern Canadian rock band called Junkhouse. The lead singer was Tom Wilson, a large, shaggy man with a voice that can go so deep, it almost sounds like a low-tuned bass guitar.
Life post-Junkhouse has been busy for Wilson. Amongst other musical projects, he has been one-third of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, considered a supergroup of Canadian singer/songwriters and guitarists. Besides Wilson, the trio includes Colin Linden and Stephen Fearing.
Blackie and the Rodeo Kings were the Sunday afternoon main stage act at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. Their very energetic blend of rock, roots, and blues was exciting - and loud. The group played a number of original songs, as well as covers from blues and rock legends. Their excellent musicianship both instrumentally and vocally, as well as their command of the stage, made Blackie and the Rodeo Kings one of the highlights of the weekend. ~Paula E. Kirman
When I heard that Tim Robbins was now a touring musician, I had that same cynical thought I would get every time I heard about a famous actor embarking on a music career. A good actor does not a good musician make. Now, Tim Robbins is not just a good actor - he is an excellent one. As a musician, he is surprisingly solid. He has a musky voice that is also melodic in an untrained sort of way. He certainly got the crowd moving with Pete Seeger's "Well May The World Go," and he kept the momentum up with his solo concert and sessions. I was honestly (and pleasantly) surprised by his musical prowess and I apologize for any cynical thoughts I may have had before. Robbins (and his Rogues Gallery band, featuring his brother on guitar) gained a lot of musical cred during the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. ~Paula E. Kirman
Guy Clark is another performer I discovered by watching American Music Shop (see my previous post about Nanci Griffith). He is also from Texas and a singer/songwriter known for releasing albums of his own work, as well as writing songs covered by other artists. Clark is also a luthier who makes many of his own instruments.
Performing on Saturday afternoon at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, Clark was accompanied by long-time musical friend Vernon Thompson. His voice was rough from smoking and dust - he explained that he had just performed in a cattle field - but there was also a delicateness to his touch.
World weary, but obviously loving what he does, Clark is a living legend of country/folk songwriters. ~Paula E. Kirman
When I was a student in university, I used to watch a program on a cable station called American Music Shop. It was on that show that I discovered Nanci Griffith. A singer/songwriter from Texas, her voice was sweet and her words profound.
Griffith writes about life, love, and social issues. Her delivery is sincere, with a dash of humour. Her Sunday afternoon concert at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival had an audience of dedicated fans and those new to her work. She introduced all of her songs thoroughly, creating a very intimate atmosphere despite the large crowd, as everyone got to know a little bit about the woman behind the songs: her late mother, her love of the soap All My Children, her passion for human rights. Despite having a cold ("That's what I get for going to Calgary," she joked) her voice was as crisp as the cool breeze circulating between the stages.
I recognized many of her songs within the first few bars (as did others, judging by the applause) and listening to them live brought me back to those more carefree days while gaining a deeper appreciation for Griffith's vast talent.
Seeing Nanci Griffith live was like meeting an old friend after many years - things have changed, yet that familiar bond is still there. ~Paula E. Kirman
James Keelaghan has a voice that draws you in and then will not let go until he has finished the story in his song. Keelaghan is originally form Calgary but now lives in Eastern Canada. Although not a household name, he has been touring and releasing albums for years. His lyrics often deal with different aspects of history, both Canadian and beyond (such as "Cold Missouri Waters" which is about the Mann Gulch fire in 1949).
Keelaghan performed to enthusiastic audiences throughout the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, giving a full concert on the Friday evening and hosting several workshops during the weekend. This was my first time seeing him live, although I have been a fan for years. His voice sounds as absolutely crisp and perfect live as it does in his recordings.
Someone on Twitter commented that Keelaghan should be considered a national treasure. I could not agree more. ~Paula E. Kirman
Monday, August 8, 2011
I attended the Edmonton Folk Music Festival this past weekend. The hills were alive with the sound of music once again, and thousands of people were there to take part. I will be blogging about some of the specific shows and artists over the next few days - stay tuned! ~Paula E. Kirman