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
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.
On the radio program airing this week I’m playing the song “Chaque jour nouveau” by the trio Meïkhâneh from Rennes, France. It’s a wonderful song from their latest album ‘Chants du dedans, chants du dehors / Songs from Inside, Songs from Outside’ released by Buda Musique / Cas Particuliers / Socadisc. The song features Meïkhâneh ideoband members Maria Laurent on vocals and banjo, Milad Pasta on riqq – a Persian frame drum related to the tambourine, and Johanni Curtet on the morin khuur – the two-stringed horsehead fiddle from Mongolia. He also performed the Mongolian overtone singing heard in the latter part of the song. As it says on their website about their unique sound, “Meïkhâneh’s compositions are fed by imagination, improvisation and traditional music from Europe, Mongolia and Iran.” You can see the trio performing the song in this video below, which was recorded live in the studio.
Go the Listen page linked in the menu to find out how you can hear the radio program on three NPR stations this week!
I’m excited to announce that NPR affiliate KAMU Radio from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas has picked up The Rhythm Atlas for broadcast each week! The program airs Thursdays at 3 p.m. (Central time US.) You can hear the show in the Brazos Valley area on KAMU 90.9 FM or via live-stream from the KAMU Radio website – click on the Listen Live link.
KAMU is a dual public television and public radio station licensed to Texas A&M University. KAMU-TV started broadcasting in 1970 and KAMU-FM was launched in 1977. I’m grateful to KAMU for carrying the program, and I’m pleased to have them join with my home station Public Radio Tulsa and longtime carrier Spokane Public Radio in airing the show each week. It’s nice to have this wonderful music reaching more listeners. Thank you!
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!
(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!
On my special program that airs this weekend in celebration of Indigenous People’s Day, I’m playing the wonderful song “Immutaa” by Beatrice Deer and her band. She is an Inuk-Mohawk artist who grew up in the remote village of Quaqtaq in northern Quebec Province. I chose the song for its lively beat and the interesting throat-singing style that Beatrice uses in it, but as I did more research about Beatrice and this song, I thought it would be nice to share the fun video she made for “Immutaa.” It turns out that “Immutaa” is a traditional Inuk children’s song and the lyrics for it are basically random words tossed together that don’t really make sense. It’s one of those classic children’s nonsense songs, the likes of which can be found in cultures all around the world. Take a few minutes to watch the video, which was filmed in her hometown of Quaqtaq and features her own children as well as other young folks from her community. You can also read an interview at the Audiofemme website that Alexa Peters did with Beatrice Deer in which she talks more about the song, as well as her background and the album on which the song appears, My All To You. Enjoy!
(Note: if you go to the video on YouTube, you can see more info and full credits for it as well.)
On the radio program airing this weekend, I’ll feature artists nominated for Best Album in the Global Music, Regional Roots, and a couple of other categories of the upcoming 2021 Grammy Awards. One of those albums is Throw Down Your Heart: The Complete Africa Sessions – “a new comprehensive film and music set documenting Béla Fleck’s transcontinental exploration of the banjo’s roots,” which was originally released in 2008. This greatly expanded box set – released by Craft Recordings in the beautiful package pictured above – is nominated in the Best Historical Album category. I’ve never seen the documentary film, but I have heard the music featured in the film and love being able to hear more tracks that were not released on the original album. (I’ll be watching the film soon.) I’m playing pieces that feature Béla Fleck performing with musicians Oumou Sangaré and Toumani Diabaté on one track and with ngoni players Bassekou Kouyate and Harouna Samake on another.
And I did not know this until looking at Béla Fleck’s YouTube page just now: he has the full-length version of the ‘Throw Down Your Heart’ film posted on there! The video is from a live-streamed event that aired on the YouTube page on December 11, 2020. It features Béla introducing the film, the film itself, and then a long segment of Béla in conversation with the film’s director, Sascha Paladino. I’m posting the video below, but I have no idea how long it will stay up there on his page for viewing. (Note that the intro doesn’t start until after 6 minutes into the video since it was a live-streamed event.) Watch it as soon as you can! I know I will…
On this week’s radio program, I’ll feature a set of music that includes three artists who will be performing at this year’s all-online globalFEST: Aditya Prakash Ensemble, Natu Camara, and Vox Sambou. As their website states, “Facing dual challenges of the pandemic, along with hardening of international borders, globalFEST will, for the first time, team with NPR Music’s Tiny Desk concerts to present exclusive video performances by 16 artists via NPR Music’s digital platforms, in a series entitled NPR Music’s Tiny Desk meets globalFEST.”
All of the performances will be presented through NPR Music’s YouTube page – with the premiere taking place on Monday, January 11 at 8 pm (EST U.S.) The series will continue at the same time each night through January 14. Here is the complete lineup:
I’ve never been to globalFEST myself and would love to experience it live some day. It always features a wonderful variety of international artists, many that are new to my ears. I’m glad that fans around the world will have the opportunity to hear and see these artists in performance this year. One the band’s that I’ve played on the show before that I’m most excited to see is Minyo Crusaders – the wild folk-song fusionists from Japan. The whole festival should be highly entertaining!
As the NPR Music press release says, “Over the last two decades, globalFEST has become one of the most dynamic global music platforms in North America, growing from an acclaimed festival/showcase into a catalytic non-profit service organization for curators, artists, and the performing arts field.” You can read the full press release which includes short bios of each performer here: globalFEST Announces 2021 Edition in Collaboration with NPR Music’s Tiny Desk
Here’s a taste of what you might hear from one of the four performers that have played globalFEST in the past, Ukrainian group Dakha Brakha. This is their Tiny Desk performance from 2015.
On this week’s program, we’ll celebrate the season with familiar Christmas carols and songs in fresh musical settings as well as holiday numbers from around the world that you may not have heard before. The playlist is full of festive music by artists from Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Louisiana, Norway, Italy, Ireland, and the Innu people – one of Canada’s indigenous First Nations. I hope you can join me for a cup or two of musical cheer!
¡Feliz Navidad! Joyeux Noël! Merry Christmas to you!
Go to the Listen page for full info on when and where to tune in on your radio dial or links to listen online from your web browser.
P.S. If you’d like to read about my love of Christmas music of all kinds, check out this series of twenty-five pieces I wrote in 2014 for my short-lived music blog, Jukebox Delirium: 25 Days of Christmas Records (start here at Day 1 and go to each following post by clicking the link for the next day at the bottom of the page just above the Comments section.) I have a large collection of Christmas music!
We begin the end of year holiday season with a celebration of Hanukkah music from around the world on the program airing this weekend. You’ll hear some klezmer tunes, songs sung in Ladino from the Sephardic Jewish tradition with roots in Spain, one of Woody Guthrie’s Hanukkah songs, and some festive modern takes on the joyous celebration known as the Festival of Lights.
Also featured throughout the program are some spoken pieces from the wonderful 1987 album ‘Oy Chanukah!’ by the Klezmer Conservatory Band. In these pieces, we hear about Hanukkah traditions and reminiscences of Hanukkah celebrations from the early twentieth century by elders in the Jewish community.
It’s an eclectic mix with a little something for everyone.
Hanukkah Sameach! Happy Hanukkah!
Go to the Listen page for full info on when and where to tune in on your radio dial or online from your web browser.