Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 3:50 pm
My two-week stay in Europe ended earlier this week with a stroke of luck: My German father-in-law gave me his beautiful old violin, the one he's played since he was 11. But getting it back safely to the U.S. was more of a problem than I imagined.
In March, indie-folk band The David Wax Museum spent a week bringing enthusiastic performances, infectious joy and butchered Mandarin phrases to China. This compelling mini-documentary chronicles the band's trip as "cultural ambassadors" at the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology. In an email, band-member Suz Slezak explains how the trip came about:
The Philadelphia Orchestra has just wrapped up a 10-day visit to China, its seventh trip to the country over the past four decades.
But this trip was different.
The orchestra is preparing to come out of bankruptcy, and this tour was about its survival. It hopes to balance its books by building new audiences and new revenues in the world's second-largest economy.
Cheb i Sabbah's life traces an almost fairy-tale perfect path through the evolution of what's now called world music. Born in Algeria in 1947, he absorbed the Judeo-Arabic Andalusian music of his local culture before he joined the '60s rebellion and became a 17-year-old DJ playing soul 45s in Paris. By the end of the decade, he'd moved to New York and become friends with trumpeter Don Cherry, famous for his association with Ornette Coleman and a pioneer in the concept of multicultural music.
Originally published on Thu February 7, 2013 9:20 am
Led by Benson Ramsey and David Huckfelt, ethereal folk-rock group The Pines makes its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Paramount Theater in Bristol, Tenn./Va. As a young boy growing up Iowa, Ramsey watched as his father — producer and guitarist Bo Ramsey — helped craft the definitive alt-country sound alongside Lucinda Williams.
If you drive northwest on New Hampshire Avenue out of Washington, D.C., you'll pass a few shopping plazas, a freeway or two, a house of worship for nearly every imaginable denomination. Around the point where the suburban sprawl begins to thin out, there's a one-block-long dead-end street on the right called Spotswood Drive. That's where a man named Walter Salb once lived; he was a beloved and respected drummer, and by most accounts a larger-than-life character.
Celebrating wild and wonderful early music is the mission of Britain's excellent I Fagiolini, led by Robert Hollingworth. Last year's world premiere recording of Alessandro Striggio's enormous 40-part Mass, paired with another larger-than-life piece, Thomas Tallis' 40-part Spem in Alium, became something of a sleeper hit, scoring surprisingly big sales and winning a Gramophone Award.
Grammy-winning singer and bass player Esperanza Spalding recently led her band, including a large horn section, through a set of jazzy jams in the KCRW studios. Watching her play funky bass lines while singing with incredible range and soul was truly a sight to behold, especially in "Smile Like That." You can watch the entire performance at KCRW.com.
Originally published on Thu October 4, 2012 1:49 pm
The formation of Trampled by Turtles can be traced back to the untimely theft of frontman Dave Simonett's musical equipment in 2003. Left with only an acoustic guitar, Simonett formed a new band with a new style that fit his remaining instrument. The result is a folk-rock group that's known for its unbridled passion and raucous energy.