Friday, August 27, 2010

Genticorum - A Taste of French Tradition

Anyone who knows me or is an avid reader of Inside World Music knows about my love affair with French music. Although I had never heard of Genticorum before, I was excited to see a contemporary trio performing traditional French music at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. With flute, fiddle, and foot-stomping, the musicians led the audience through a musical history lesson. The name Genticorum is actually Latin for "Of the National Men." All three of the musicians have academic backgrounds in music, and if guitarist Yann Falquet looked familiar to an Edmonton audience, there was good reason: he used to play here in town with The McDades. ~ Paula E. Kirman

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Natacha Atlas - Crossing Borders

I honestly thought Natacha Atlas was Middle Eastern - until I heard her speak. The British accent gave her away. However, her mix of Arabic and western sounds certainly builds bridges between worlds of music. During one of the workshops at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, she took her culture connecting even further by performing a song in French (the other artists on stage with her were from the Francophone world).

Her voice is mesmerizing. Many people were moving to her music, which evoked enchantment. Her next album is forthcoming - it will be worth checking out. ~ Paula E. Kirman

Sunday, August 15, 2010

CD Review: Senegal's Carlou D

Carlou D

Senegalese musician, Carlou D, is a fixture in the Dakar music scene. A vocalist and guitarist, Carlou D provides a young, hip voice in the West African music arena. His latest release, Muzikr, is so-named for its reference to music (mu-) and Islamic/Sufi ties (-zikr). This is not your typical traditional Sufi music chants or rock/hip hop album. It is catchy, contemporary music with a variety of instrumentation including bass, kora, ngoni, keyboards, drums, sax, and other instruments. The music is pleasant to listen to and each track is noticeably different. A familiar voice to many, Youssou N'Dour, lends his voice on track six. Overall, Muzikr can be appropriately categorized as a new genre of contemporary West African Islamic pop music. Whatever you call it, Carlou D will move you, inspire you, and make you think. It is very good 'muzik'. The liner notes provide song summaries in English and French. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Najma Akhtar and Gary Lucas


U.K.-born vocalist, Najma Akhtar, joins with guitarist Gary Lucas for a stunning album. The musical relationship between Najma and Gary lay in the guitar. Najma's vocals are mostly in Urdu, except for English on a bluesy cover song from Skip James in the 1930's and track ten. Gary's guitar playing does for Najma what Ry Cooder did for the late-Ali Farka Toure. Rishte is a mix of traditional Indian music and classical folk styles. However, the guitar playing is more folksy and bluesy than rock-oriented. At any rate, it is an interesting musical relationship rarely encountered in world music today. Perhaps fans of other guitarists on world music recordings, including Ry Cooder, Bob Brozman, and Ben Bowen King will find Rishte to their liking. Also, world fusion fans will delight in the music. The liner notes include English and French translations of song summaries. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Argentina's Lisandro Adrover

Meets The Metropole Orchestra

Argentina's Lisandro Adrover is a tango maestro on the bandoneon. Meets The Metropole Orchestra was recorded before a live audience at the Muziekcentrum Vredenburg in Utrecht, The Netherlands on March 16, 2003. The result is a collection of fourteen compositions led by Lisandro and his bandoneon with back-up instrumentation from additional bandoneons, a piano, violin, guitar, double bass, and cello. The tango tunes are emotive, classical masterpieces of sound when everything comes together just right. This is evidenced by the fact the audience remains relatively quiet throughout the performances until the very end of each song where applause occurs. Interestingly, the bandoneon may be the lead instrument, but it is never overpowering. For those interested in tango, Lisandro Adrover is a talented musician that should not be overlooked. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Mali's Khaira Arby

Timbuktu Tarab
Clermont Music
It seems nowadays any musician with any connections to the late-Malian blues guitar legend, Ali Farka Toure, rises to stardom. For Khaira Arby, the cousin of the late-Ali Farka Toure, the sounds of the Malian desert come alive with songs of history, social causes, and cultural influences. Khaira is a vocalist with a more traditional, but pop-edged repertoire similar to Dimi Mint Abba, Rokia Traore, or an all-female Tinariwen. There are electric guitars, njarka, drums, hand-claps, and a possible ardin and tidinit. Khaira's classic vocals represent the voice of women in North Africa. Khaira sings in Songhai, Tamasheq, Bambara, and Arabic languages. The mix of traditional North African guitar sounds and ethnic percussion and strings seems to be the right tone for Timbuktu Tarab. It is not as polished as anything by Mauritania's Malouma, or as traditional as Tartit. However, the goal for Timbuktu Tarab is to proclaim the music of Khaira by using a voice to instill social change locally and globally. Timbuktu Tarab is an album to be enjoyed by those with cravings for North African music. ~ Matthew Forss

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Te Vaka - Music of the South Pacific

We've covered Te Vaka's music over the years here at Inside World Music, so it was thrill to finally see the band live in action. Te Vaka is heavily influenced by the sounds of the South Pacific, incorporating log drums (and other percussion instruments) and Polynesian languages. The group's songs are socially conscious, often dealing with themes of social justice and the environment. Now based in Australia after relocating from New Zealand, Te Vaka has a very exciting stage show that features traditional dance. Strong melodies combined with choreography and excellent musicianship makes Te Vaka world class in the world music scene. If you ever have a chance to check out Te Vaka, by all means go for it - and definitely get a hold of some of their music (their latest release, from 2009, is called Haoloto). Check out our full photo set from Te Vaka's Sunday afternoon main stage performance at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival here. ~ Paula E. Kirman

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Alejandro Escovedo - Roots Rock with Heart

Alejandro Escovedo is a legend to those in the know. Texas-born but later transplanted to California, Escovedo's music is high-energy with influences ranging from American rock to Latin jazz. His set at the 2010 Edmonton Folk Music Festival sounded pretty rocking to me, and included song about life, love, and even a few covers like "Beast of Burden." His band, the Sensitive Boys, were extremely tight, and guitar-heavy. At the same time, Escovedo's Mexican roots came through in his music many times, as his voice resonated with passion. I was not that familiar with Escovedo's music before the EFMF but he was definitely my "discovery" of the weekend and I am going to make an effort to look him up and get to know his music better. To check out my full photo set from his performance, click here. ~ Paula E. Kirman

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Zachary Richard - Sounds of Louisiana

Zachary Richard is many things: an environmentalist, poet, advocate for culture, children's author, and more. What I know him best as, is a singer/songwriter from Louisiana who teaches about his history and culture through his music. Richard is from Louisiana and his style encompasses Zydeco, Cajun, as well as straight-ahead folk. Well known in the French speaking world, Richard is very much into the preservation of Cajun culture and the use of the French language in Louisiana. However, he sings in English and presented songs in both languages during his concert at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival.

Most of the audience was not familiar with Richard and his music. Only a few of us started to cheer when he launched into "Au Bord du Lac Bijou," one of his best-known French songs. However, applause from the majority came at the wrong moment during the song, when he pauses before resuming the final verse and chorus, resulting in his use of hand signals. It reminded me of people unfamiliar with classical music clapping in between movements.

Whether they knew him or not, Richard had people clapping and moving, especially during his final number. He has an incredibly smooth voice that sounds great in any language. I certainly hope people who have now been exposed to his music for the first time will do their research and discover all the music that this incredible artist has to offer.

For more photos of Zachary Richard at the EFMF, click here. ~ Paula E. Kirman

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Melanie - Laying It All Down

I had a religious experience on Saturday afternoon. "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)" is one of my favourite songs, so when I found out that Melanie was coming to the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, I was very excited. Melanie Safka was pretty much an unknown when she performed at Woodstock 41 years ago, where that song was inspired - a song which has become an anthem of peace. She continues to tour, often including her three children (two singing daughters and a guitar-playing son) in her band. Melanie is someone who I aspire to be like decades from now - still singing songs of peace and spreading love.

In the second workshop that Melanie took part in on Saturday, Naomi Shelton led the audience in an energetic rendition of "Oh Happy Day." Melanie was up next and was reminded how she got the Edwin Hawkins Singers to sing with her on "Candles in the Rain." She launched into the song, to cheers and tears of the crowd. She combined the song with a short version of "Give Peace a Chance" and a rap on a similar theme. It was epic.

My full photo set of Melanie is here. ~ Paula E. Kirman

Monday, August 9, 2010

Edmonton Folk Music Festival 2010

I spent much of this past weekend at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. Once again, I was blown away by the range of performers that spanned the globe. Thousands of people crowded Gallagher Park for the world-class event. I'll be presenting some capsule reviews from some of the highlights for me, so stay tuned! In the meantime, check out my photo set which includes some incredible shots of the main hill and surroundings. ~ Paula E. Kirman