Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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Band of the month

June 3, 2017

JUNE 2017

I came across the work of the Sierra Leone musician Sorie Kondi three years ago, and I was so intrigued by his story that I got in touch with the man who first brought him to America, Boima Tucker (aka Chief Boima), and Boima gave me an interview at the time. There could hardly be a greater contrast between the musical backgrounds of the two men who form the Kondi Band. Sorie is a traditional musician from an impoverished corner of western Africa while Boima, an American born DJ with a Sierra Leone heritage, is a pioneer of “global bass” music. They’ve made an album together though – Salone, which is released today, and it’s like they’ve been working together all their lives.

Born blind, Sorie couldn’t do farming work like the other boys. Someone gave him a kondi (the instrument after which he later named himself, a thumb piano), and he taught himself to play. The war forced him to leave his home and seek refuge in Freetown where he recorded an album in 1998. But then the war came to Freetown, and the master tapes of the album were lost amid the destruction. So he found himself busking for coins on the streets of a city where almost everyone was suffering due to poverty and war.

Slowly he got back on his feet and made a few albums. It was in 2007 that an American produced video of one of his songs, Without Money, No Family, appeared on Boima’s facebook feed. Boima was immediately inspired to remix the track. And for a time, that was that. “And then I got a phone call one day from Luke Wasserman [Sorie’s producer], who asked if I would be willing to do a whole remix album of Sorie’s new material …”

Once crowdfunding had been organised and visa problems conquered, Sorie arrived in the US in 2012 to play a few shows. It was then that Boima  began to see the potential of a collaboration. Living in Freetown, Sorie was no stranger to electronic music. Since the war’s end traditional instruments were in short supply, but there was a proliferation of synthesizers and digital studios (Boima credits hip hop artist Jimmy B for leading the way in new technology). Sorie had clear ideas in his head of how he’d like his music to sound. For Boima the challenge was how to achieve a synthesis which preserved the unique qualities of the original – the rippling sound of the kondi, and Sorie’s laidback voice.

The result is a success, an album that has a mood and a beauty all of its own.  Rolling Stone describe it as “deeply hypnotic electro-acoustic trance music, warped by echo and multi-tracked vocals, spiked with live brass touches that conjure vintage dub reggae.” The lyrics are incisive too, unfortunately no translations have been provided on the Bandcamp site. Projects like this, insisted Boima speaking to me in 2014, do not represent an abandonment or a turning away from traditional music. “People like Sorie Kondi … provide us with a pathway to take traditional instruments to a higher level, skill wise and creatively. He is combining the digital recording culture of Freetown with traditional playing styles … I’m hoping to help him take this ability global. He is a true visionary artist, and I feel privileged to be able to collaborate with him !”

Sorie and Boima are in Europe now touring to promote the album. On July 16th you can see them in Brockwell Park in south London. I’d also encourage you to check out some of Sorie’s acoustic work.

Kondi Band – Titi Dem Too Service

Kondi Band – Thogolingo Dembi Na

Kondi Band – Belle Wahalla

Kondi Band – Without Money, No Family (Chief Boima Remix)

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Musicians and Trump

January 27, 2017

I’m very grateful to Anne-Marie Sanderson for sending me this. And I’m mightily interested in hearing from more of you with links to songs that you or others have written which express your thoughts or feelings about living in Trump’s America. They don’t necessarily have to be protest songs, though protest songs are very welcome. Just leave a comment on this post or email me, and then sometime toward the end of 2017 I’ll put together a compilation for y’all.

Anne-Marie Sanderson – Red Giant

“It’s taken me a while to process what’s happened and what could happen as a result of November’s election. For quite some time I, like so many others, was shocked beyond belief, lost for words, lost in despair. But sometimes inspiration and hope pop up from the unlikeliest of places. In her eloquent Golden Globe acceptance speech (the one where she slams Trump without ever saying his name), Meryl Streep quoted the immortal wisdom of Carrie Fisher: “Take your broken heart and make it into art.” Such a simple turn of phrase, almost cliche, and yet it resonated so strongly with me. So, that’s what I decided to do. Although I wasn’t able to take to the streets in protest this past weekend, this song and video are my own response to Trump’s inauguration and the looming shadow of his presidency. This is my first (and perhaps not my last) protest song.”

 

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Pity the Downtrodden Landlord : songs of tenants rights

February 7, 2016

I’ve resisted the temptation to include songs about homelessness as well. These are songs with strong lyrics and a linking theme. I understand that the Alistair Hulett and David Rovics songs are about actual historical struggles, but please do leave a comment if you have background to any of these songs. If you have similar songs that you want to share, please leave a link if you can.

Fred Hellerman – Pity the Downtrodden Landlord

Stan Kelly & Leon Rosselson – Greedy Landlord

Malvina Reynolds – The Faucets Are Dripping

Mike Rawson & Rob Rosenthal – Talking Tenant Blues

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra – Raisin’ the Rent

John Lee Hooker – House Rent Boogie

Mercy Dee Walton & Thelma Walton – Rent Man Blues

The Mersey Wreckers – Back Buchanan Street

Charlie Poole – Moving Day

Jimmy Collier – Rent Strike Blues

The Pogues – Boys From The County Hell

Public Order Act – Pay Your Rent

Alistair Hulett – Mrs. Barbour’s Army

David Rovics – Landlord

Rory McLeod – Defending Our Homes

It would be wrong of me not to give a passing mention to the recently discovered Woody Guthrie song Old Beach Haven Ain’t My Home, written when he was a tenant of Donald Trump’s father Fred Trump. Sadly no recordings exist as far as I’m aware, but we can get the gist from the lyrics : “Beach Haven looks like Heaven/Where no black ones come to roam!/No, no, no! Old Man Trump! Old Beach Haven ain’t my home!”

 

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2 million hits

January 26, 2016

On Wednesday 27th January this site will pass 2 million hits.

To mark the occasion, I’m giving some free songs away. If you email me at nctwall@hotmail.com before midnight Wednesday, I’ll send you two or more songs from any country in the world of your choice. The only restriction is that it can’t be a country where you’ve ever lived.

My music of the world project is still in the works : you can read about it here – https://foreverycountryasong.wordpress.com/about/ .

Nick

 

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The blues ain’t dead

December 13, 2015

… you just need to look in the right places. These guys got the rhythm and they got the blues. All from albums released in the last 12 months (a couple from December 2014, so they just qualify).

Boubacar Traoré – Hona

Malian blues. “He was the first to play Mandingo-based music on electric guitar, long before his junior, Ali Farka Touré.” In 2015 Kar Kar still has that rhythm.

Charlie Parr – Empty Out Your Pockets

Folk blues by perhaps the greatest bluesman in America today.

Dead Sara – Mr Mr

Californian blues rock, fronted by Emily Armstrong and Siouxsie Medley.

Fiona Boyes – I Done Quit

Aussie blues. “I ain’t never heard a woman finger pick a guitar like that since Memphis Minnie.” – Pinetop Perkins

Holly Golightly – As You Go Down

British blues rock, by a former protégé of Billy Childish.

Ironing Board Sam – Baby You Got It

Rhythm & blues. “This is the time when in my life it seems to be that I’m at my best because I know more on how to write music, know more how to play it, know more how to get it to the audience, know more about everything. I’m 70 years old. It took this time, you know.”

JD McPherson – Mother Of Lies

Okie blues. Getting fired from his job as a teacher “had to happen at that exact time or I wouldn’t have done it. Because I had a wife and kids. I’m not gonna tell them, ‘Hey, daddy is gonna quit his steady job just out of grad school, and I’m gonna go get in a band and play.”

The Josh Garrett Band – Goodnight, Goodnight

Southern blues. “I’m drawn to all things Louisiana, it’s my culture and I try to embrace it.”

Left Lane Cruiser – Tres Borrachos

Hard rockin’ blues. “The core group of songs on this record were written at soundchecks during a nine-month period of touring the U.S. and Europe. After a long drive, we would get to the club. Burn one down. Fuckin’ jam at soundcheck. Then we had a new tune. It went on like that for a while. This album was written entirely under the guidance and influence of marijuana. No dirty spliffs were used in the making of this record.”

Lou Shields – Little Town

Chicago blues. “Lou is a solo performing artist; he sings, plays National Guitar, Banjo and harmonica. He sits on top of a stage riser built from reclaimed materials and can reproduce that front porch sound anywhere he goes. Lou uses a bass stomp on his left foot and a broken skateboard with bottle caps nailed to it on his right foot.”

Parvathy Baul – Apon Moner Baghe

Indian blues ? The Bauls are a Bengali sect who pass down teachings, philosophy and folk music from generation to generation. Some like Parvathy choose to commit themselves to a life of asceticism, renouncing family and possessions, becoming travelling minstrels and living off alms.

The Reverend Shawn Amos – Joliet Bound

Harmonica blues. This is a Memphis Minnie song.

Seasick Steve – Barracuda 68′

Beardy blues. Cool video.

Songhoy Blues – Soubour

Malian desert blues. “Though their music bears elements of contemporary rock and hip hop, at its heart is Songhoy Blues‚ deep attachment to the homegrown songs and dances of Mali‚s Songhoy people as well as such iconic West African guitar heroes as Baba Salah and Ali Farka Touré.”

The Vaudevillian – Luke’s Blues

Canadian stringband blues. Purveyors of old-time music.

Wild Billy Childish & CTMF – What Is This False Life You’re Leading

Punk blues. “Billy Childish is an international cult figure, painter, poet and novelist. He has released over 120 independent albums and influenced a vast range of musicians from Kurt Cobain, Beck and Mudhoney, through to Jack White, The Hives, The Strypes and Kylie Minogue. ”

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Cumbia, cumbia, cumbia !

December 6, 2015

Many of the best drop-down-dead dance rhythms this year came from South America. Here’s a sample. Most of it’s cumbia based, but Sonora Carruseles demonstrate that there are still bands around who know their salsa.

ARGENTINA

Lagartijeando – Congo Ya 

Sonido Guay Neñe – Dejala Llorar

CHILE

Chico Trujillo – Malgeniosa 

Señor Chancho – Momposound 

COLOMBIA

Arrabalero – Kumbia Aguacero 

La-33 – Te Lo Voy A Devolver 

Lucho Campillo feat. Daniel Leon – Cafecito Colombiano 

Magin Díaz y el Sexteto Gamerano – Yo me voy con tigo 

Paito – La Cumbia Islena 

Sonora Carruseles – Como Baila Micaela 

Tomborato – Negra Rosa 

Totó La Momposina – La Candela Viva 

MEXICO

because the South American beats are also big in Mexico

Sonido Mamalón – Varúsi Mericaríya (Madre Rayo)

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The art of songwriting

November 29, 2015

I continue my survey of 2015 with selections from some of the best singer songwriter releases of the year.

Krista Detor – Can I Come Over   (Barely)

Steve Earle & The Dukes – Mississippi, It’s Time  (single)

Craig Finn – Newmyer’s Roof   (Faith in the Future)

Gilmore & Roberts – She Doesn’t Like Silence    (Conflict Tourism)

Bella Hardy – Oh! My God! I Miss You    (With the Dawn)

The Honey Dewdrops – Loneliest Songs   (Tangled Country)

Gurf Morlix – 50 Years   (Eatin’ at me)

Old Man Luedecke – Wait a While   (Domestic Eccentric)

Grace Petrie – The Last Love Song   (Whatever’s Left)

Rod Picott – Drunken Barbers Hand   (Fortune)

Dave Rawlings Machine – The Trip   (Nashville Obsolete)

Joe Topping – One Beat Away   (The Vagrant Kings)

Will Varley – Concept of Freedom   (Postcards from Ursa Minor)