Dear Listeners: as the COVID-19 crisis escalates here in the United States, I will be rebroadcasting some past programs over the next few weeks since I’m not able to go in to the studios of Public Radio Tulsa to produce new shows. Tulsa is not under full shelter in place orders – yet – but business as usual is strictly limited, which includes the University of Tulsa campus where the PRT studios are located. I have rebroadcasts prepared for the next three weeks (starting with this weekend, March 28-29) and it seems likely I’ll have to air more past that time. (I don’t have the capability to produce programs from home at this time.)

The program you’ll hear this weekend on Spokane Public Radio and Public Radio Tulsa originally aired on November 3, 2019; it features music from some really wonderful albums that had been released in 2019. Listeners in Spokane will not have heard this show yet, since SPR only picked up the The Rhythm Atlas at the beginning of 2020. Go the Listen page here on the website to find details about when, where, and how you can hear the show.

I hope you’ll find some joy and comfort in this music. Without having planned it, there’s one song on this playlist that I think speaks beautifully and powerfully to this moment we are living through together: “The Lost Words Blessing.” It comes from the album ‘The Lost Words: Spell Songs.’ As the website for the album says:

The Lost Words: Spell Songs is a musical companion piece to The Lost Words: A Spell Book, the acclaimed work by authors Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, responding to the removal of everyday nature words from a widely used children’s dictionary [in the U.K.] which grew to become a much broader protest at the loss of the natural world around us, as well as a celebration of the creatures and plants with which we share our lives, in all their characterful glory.

Recognising the great musical potential within the pages of The Lost Words book, with its poetic rhythms, imagined birdsong and resonating watercolours, Folk by the Oak Festival eagerly commissioned Spell Songs. They invited eight remarkable musicians whose music engages deeply with landscape and nature, to respond to the creatures, art and language of The Lost Words. Karine Polwart, Julie Fowlis, Seckou Keita, Kris Drever, Kerry Andrew, Rachel Newton, Beth Porter and Jim Molyneux sing nature back to life through the power of music, poetry, art and magic.

Take a few minutes to listen to this truly beautiful song and see the artists who made it in the video they released. (The full lyrics are included if you go directly to YouTube to watch it.) Here is the last stanza of the song:

“Walk through the world with care, my love
And sing the things you see
Let new names take and root and thrive and grow
And even as you stumble through machair sands eroding
Let the fern unfurl your grieving, let the heron still your breathing
Let the selkie swim you deeper, oh my little silver-seeker
Even as the hour grows bleaker, be the singer and the speaker
And in city and in forest, let the larks become your chorus
And when every hope is gone, let the raven call you home…”

May you all be well…take care of yourselves and take care of each other.

Denis McGilvray

My friends at OK Roots Music have announced some of the fantastic acts who will be performing at their 7th Annual Global Bash. Headlining the free event on Guthrie Green in downtown Tulsa on Saturday, April 11 is Keb’ Mo’, who recently won the Best Americana Album Grammy for his album ‘Oklahoma.’ Also appearing earlier that same evening is Lakou Mizik, a Haitian roots music group that I’ve played on the radio show many times. Their newest album ‘HaitiaNola’ is fantastic. Head over to the OK Roots Music website for all the details of this always fun festival.

You can read more about the inspiration behind and the making of the ‘Oklahoma’ album on Keb’ Mo’s homepage. (Scroll down to the Bio / About Keb’ Mo’ section.) He mentions how a visit to Oklahoma and later a songwriting session with Tulsa native and now Nashville resident Dara Tucker helped propel the album’s creation. This should be a very special performance! Here’s the video of the title track “Oklahoma.”

And I can’t wait to hear the soulful energy and positive vibrations of Lakou Mizik – a band that was formed in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010. As their website says, “Lakou Mizik is a powerhouse collective of Haitian musicians united in a mission to use the healing spirit of music to communicate a message of pride, strength, and hope for their country.” Their second album – ‘HaitiaNola’ – is a wonderful celebration of the shared cultural roots of Haiti and New Orleans. It was released by Cumbancha in October 2019. Check out this 4-minute video about the making of this album:

It’s going to be a great time at the 7th Annual Global Bash!

Courtesy of NPR

The first set of the program that will air this weekend is inspired by Bob Boilen and NPR’s All Songs Considered in honor of the 20th anniversary of this “music show for your computer.” I’ve discovered a wide variety of fantastic music through All Songs Considered over the years, and I’ve always loved how they feature many artists and musical styles from around the world. In fact, the very first piece that Bob played on the show back in January of 2000 was a beautiful tune by renowned multi-instrumentalist and composer Gustavo Santaolalla, from Argentina. You’ll hear that tune and a Scottish Gaelic song by Mouth Music that was featured on one of the early episodes of All Songs Considered.  (I just happen – not surprisingly?! – to have both of these albums in my CD collection.) In addition to those, I’ll also play music from Korean traditional group Ak Dan Gwang Chil. I just heard them for the first time on one of the most recent All Songs Considered shows covering discoveries at this year’s globalFEST in New York City.

You can listen to Bob Boilen and his co-host Robin Hilton reminisce about the beginnings of ASC on this fun episode of the show that came out on January 7, 2020: What ‘All Songs Considered’ Sounded Like 20 Years Ago. And I’m really pleased to know that when Spokane Public Radio recently picked up The Rhythm Atlas for their Saturday night line up, they also added All Songs Considered and NPR’s Alt.Latino in the time slots right before it. How cool is that?!

I just want to say thanks to Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, and all the other regular guests, hosts, and staffers who make All Songs Considered – and now the whole, expansive NPR Music hub – such a wonderful place to discover and explore music of all kinds. Here’s to 20 more years!

On the program that aired the weekend of January 11 and 12, I played two pieces from the wonderful new compilation ‘Sound Portraits from Bulgaria: A Journey to a Vanished World, 1966 – 1979,’ released by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. You can read more about the collection on the Smithsonian Folkways website. This music was recorded by educator and cultural documentarian Martin Koenig during six trips he made to Bulgaria. Here’s more from the press release accompanying the album:

Martin Koenig arrived in Bulgaria in 1966 at age 27 with letters of recommendation from fellow recordist Alan Lomax and anthropologist Margaret Mead, an educator and cultural documentarian determined to study the folk dances of rural communities throughout the country. The work of Lomax and Mead, two legendary cultural preservationists and thinkers, is an apt frame for the work documented in Sound Portraits from Bulgaria in its forthright, yet affectionate, look at the way music and dance impacted the life of rural Bulgarians and what is lost as it disappears. As Koenig writes in his introductory essay, this music and culture “should not be forgotten, as it reveals a dimension of strength and beauty in the human spirit that we, in our longing, may not even know we are missing.”

It’s an impressive album set which includes a 144-page book with detailed notes about the songs and performers as well as many photographs that give you a real sense of what Koenig experienced all around Bulgaria. I’m sure I’ll be playing more from this collection in the future.

Here are some of the albums that will be featured on this weekend’s broadcasts of The Rhythm Atlas. You’ll hear music from Bulgaria, Spain/North Africa, and Mali; Balkan Beats via Denmark, Sani folk music from China, Latin Boogaloo from NYC; and much more.

Go to the Listen page to find out how you can hear the show. I hope you can tune in!

I hadn’t heard of the New York City-based Latin boogaloo revival band Spanglish Fly until I came across their recent Tiny Desk Concert on the NPR Music website last week. I am so glad to have seen that! So glad, in fact, that I’ll be playing one of their songs on The Rhythm Atlas program that will air this weekend. (Go to the Listen menu above to find out how you can hear the radio show.)

As their website says, “Spanglish Fly is part band, part celebration: 12 musicians igniting a party that quickly spreads to the audience. Boogaloo! That mix of Latin and soul/R&B that emerged from the clubs, the street corners, the transistor radios and the pool halls of 1960s Spanish Harlem, “El Barrio.” Inspired by Latin boogaloo, or bugalú, Spanglish Fly plays irresistible grooves that blend Afro-Caribbean rhythms with the fervor, the feeling, and the harmonics of 60s soul.”

I also love what Felix Contreras, host of NPR Music’s Alt.Latino program, had to say about the band on the Tiny Desk concert page: “When the crew that is Spanglish Fly pulled in behind the Tiny Desk, the group’s vibrant version of boogaloo raised the temperature in the NPR Music offices quite a bit. Whether displaying their party spirit or even the slow burn of social consciousness on the song “Los Niños En La Frontera [The Children at the Border],” this band plays from the heart and engages both the mind and body.”

You can watch their performance here to get yourself boogalooing! And tune in to The Rhythm Atlas this weekend to hear Spanglish Fly and more fantastic music from all over the globe.

Here is the playlist for the program that aired the week of January 4, 2020, featuring selections from some of the best world music albums released in the past decade. Go the Listen page for the link to the archived audio at the PRX website.

On last week’s show, I took a look back at some of my favorite albums of 2019. As we head into 2020, I thought it would be fun to also take a look back at some of the best world music albums of the past decade. On this week’s show, you’ll hear a wide variety of brilliant music released around the world from 2010 to 2019, including cuts from all the albums pictured here.

Go to the Listen menu to find out how you can hear the program on your radio dial, listen to the live-stream online, or play the archived audio on the PRX website.

 

Along with the launch of this website, I’m very pleased to announce that The Rhythm Atlas radio program will now be carried by  Spokane Public Radio! You can hear the show on KPBX 91.1 FM on Saturdays at 7 p.m. (Pacific time) – starting tonight, January 4, 2020. Go to Spokane Public Radio to listen to the live-stream. (That link is also available on the Listen page in the top menu.)

Michael Patoray hosted the 2-hour world music program Saturday Café on SPR for more than 30 years. Sadly, he passed away suddenly away in November 2019. I’m grateful to SPR for picking up The Rhythm Atlas, and I hope to continue in the spirit of Michael’s Saturday Café program by sharing a lively mix of fantastic music from all over the globe.

KPBX broadcasts in Spokane and the surrounding region in eastern Washington and small parts of Idaho, Montana, and Oregon. Go to the SPR website for a list of stations where you can hear it in those areas.

Tune in if you’re in the neighborhood!

Dear Music Lover,

I hope you enjoy this website I’ve created as the hub of news and information about The Rhythm Atlas radio program and about world music in general. You can find out how to listen to the show on your radio dial or online, see weekly playlists, find more info about artists and record labels, and check out links to other world music resources. Let me know if there’s something you’d like to see on the site.

Thanks for reading and listening!