In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed on January 27th, I’ll be playing a powerful song on this week’s radio program from the new album ‘Silent Tears: The Last Yiddish Tango’ by Payadora Tango Ensemble along with guest artists, including vocalists from across the globe – Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk (Israel,) Marta Kosiorek (Poland,) Lenka Lichtenberg (Toronto,) and Aviva Chernick (Toronto.) It’s an incredibly moving work of musical art.

As notes on the Payadora website state: “The music of ‘Silent Tears’ is based on poems, testimonies, and writings of women who were victims of sexual violence and torture during the Holocaust. Some songs are from a project led by Dr. Paula David, a social worker at a Toronto Jewish care home who helped survivors process their trauma by writing collective poetry. Others are from Molly Applebaum, a Toronto-based author, who, during her adolescent years, was buried underground in a small wooden box in a barn in Poland during the war. Set to music by an award-winning team of musicians, the songs on the album tell the story of unimaginable violence as experienced by women and children during the Nazi occupation of Poland.”

To introduce the song “Silent Tears” – which begins the second half of the program – you’ll hear Dr. Paula David speaking about the Baycrest Holocaust Survivor Poetry Project, and violinist Rebekah Wolkstein, the composer of the song’s music.

Many thanks to the album’s Executive Producer Dan Rosenberg for providing the spoken word introductions to the song and to Six Degrees Records for distributing this important musical document. The project was made possible with the generous support of Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto’s Workmen’s Circle Foundation, with additional support for outreach by Toronto’s Committee for Yiddish and the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.

You can read in-depth notes about the album and its creation, and watch videos of some of the songs, at the Payadora Tango Ensemble website: http://payadora.com/silent-tears

FURTHER READING
Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center

King Cabbage Brass Band – a New Orleans-styled group based in Tulsa – has released their first album: ‘Live at Cain’s Ballroom.’ On the new radio program airing this week, I’m playing the wonderfully funky track “Kings & Queens.” It’s an original composition written by King Cabbage Brass Band leader Greg Fallis, and performed by Fallis, Nicholas Foster, Jordan Hehl, Dave Johnson, Ryan Hatcher, Bishop Marsh, Andy McCormick, Kristin Ruyle, Dylan Ward, and Isaac Washam. NPR Music featured a video of the band playing this song on their Live Sessions pages. You can check it out right here too! Go to the Listen page in our main menu for direct links to live-streams of the program on three NPR stations: Thursdays at 3 pm (Central) on KAMU in College Station, Texas; Saturdays at 7 pm (Pacific) on KPBX in Spokane, Washington; and Sundays at 6 pm (Central) on KWGS in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Some of the albums featured on this week’s Halloween and Día de los Muertos special

On this week’s special radio program, we’ll celebrate the festivals of Halloween and Día de los Muertos . You’ll hear joyful songs in remembrance of loved ones for the Day of the Dead, music connected with the Celtic roots of Halloween, and some simply silly, spooky songs as well. Starting off the playlist is “Calaverita,” a lively dance song by Mexican-American band La Santa Cecilia from their 2015 album ‘Buenaventura.’ Calaveritas are the little sugar skulls you see used as Day of the Dead decorations. The wonderful video for this song features a colorful array of Día de los Muertos festivities. You can watch it on YouTube since it can’t be embedded on this page. Enjoy!

La Santa Cecilia – “Calaverita” video

(And as I was writing this, I learned that La Santa Cecilia have just released a new 8-song album on October 22, 2021. It’s titled ‘Quiero Verte Feliz’ and you can listen to it now. Here’s a link to the video for the title song, which features Lila Downs. I’m sure I’ll be playing songs from this album on upcoming programs!

La Santa Cecilia with Lila Downs – “Quiero Verte Feliz” video

I’ve dreamed about traveling to Glasgow for the annual two week-long Celtic Connections music festival for a long time, and hope that can happen some time in the future. But I am happy to be able to experience this year’s festival from the comfort of my living room, albeit under the unfortunate circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.

If you’re not familiar with the festival, here’s what they say about it on their website:

“Glasgow’s annual folk, roots and world music festival, Celtic Connections celebrates Celtic music and its connections to cultures across the globe.

From 15 January – 2 February 2021, due to the ongoing global pandemic, the festival will be delivered digitally for the very first time. Over 100 musicians will be streamed onto screens around the world for 19 days of exclusive concerts, workshops, and free events.”

https://www.celticconnections.com/about-celtic-connections/

On this weekend’s radio program, I’ll be playing three groups who will be performing at the festival: Christ Stout & Catriona McKay, Sian, and Shooglenifty. (Go to the Listen page in the main menu above for details on where and when to tune in to the show.)

Despite not having live audiences, Celtic Connections is still presenting a vast array of Celtic and other artists from around the world from January 15 to February 2, and it’s all online for viewing with the purchase of a Festival Pass or by purchasing individual concerts. You can book tickets through this How To Book page on their website. You can also find out what performances are taking place each day on the festival Calendar page. Performances are available for viewing at any time for one week after they premiere on the website.

I bought a full Festival Pass and watched the 90-minute Opening Night Celebration last night. It was full of brilliant performances by the Celtic Connections 2021 Big Band, Duncan Chisholm with Scottish Ensemble, Ímar, Fiona Hunter, Kinnaris Quintet, Le Vent du Nord, and special guests Karine Polwart, Sona Jobarteh, Xabier Diaz e Adufeiras de Salitre, and Elephant Sessions (along with some other surprise guests I know I’m missing!) Some of the performances were recorded in the usual festival venues in Glasgow while others were recorded from wherever the musicians are located. All of them had fantastic sound and visual production and gave you the feeling of being in the room with the musicians. I’m really looking forward to what’s in store over the next two weeks.

Watch this highlight video of Celtic Connections 2020 for a taste of what the festival has to offer. Seeing the joyous crowds in these scenes makes me miss going to live concerts even more. Here’s to when we can gather together again safely, friends!

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.