Simon Broughton meets the sitarist and famed daughter of Ravi to discuss her latest collaborative album.
‘Their sound is like a skinful of notes poured on a hot skillet, jumping and sizzling as the temperature rises...’
World Class Brass
A look at the legacy of British brass music beyond the UK, ahead of the new BBC Radio 2 series.
The Indo-Canadian singer talks to Songlines about her new-found love of Saharan music.
Tim Cumming talks to the Bosnian singer about the inspiration behind her Balkan blues, sevdah infused album.
A look into the life of this extraordinary musician, ahead of his London gig.
Hot Club of Cowtown
We find out what makes them holler...
The legacy of British Brass
Hot Club of Cowtown
52 Kiran Ahluwalia
42 www.songlines.co.uk www.songlines.co.uk
48 Songlines 3
7 Welcome 9 Top of the World CD 10 My World: Mickey Hart 12 News 16 Cerys Matthews 16 World Music Chart 17 NEW Homegrown 18 Dispatch USA 19 Letters & Reader Profile 21 E uropean Forum of World Music Festivals 24 G rooves: Ana Moura, Karine Polwart and Mark Johnson 27 G lobe-Rocker: Huong Thanh 29 S onglines Music Travel 31 BONUS CD Global Sounds from Australia
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“There are great young bands following in the footsteps of Muzsikás”
s the main reviewer of Hungarian music in these pages, I’ve noticed a real resurgence of energy and activity on the Hungarian traditional music scene in the last few years. In the review of the recent triple album compilation of Hungarian world music on Folk Europa, it was the most recent disc that was the most exciting. There are great young bands following in the footsteps of Muzsikás and other founders of the Hungarian folk revival and also bands doing interesting new things. Söndörgő, one of the bands that most impressed me was featured this year in Songlines #77 and came to play at Songlines Encounters Festival in June. So I shouldn’t be surprised that Hungary has been selected to present an opening showcase at WOMEX this year. WOMEX is the annual gathering of people in the world music business and takes place in Copenhagen at the end of October. So it’s an industry event, but it certainly influences what is likely to be seen and heard in concerts and at festivals over the next few years. The Hungarian artists appearing at what they’ve called Hungarian Heartbeats includes Söndörgő, I’m pleased to say, as well as the Tükrös band, who are one of the best táncház (dance house) bands in the Muzsikás model. What makes Budapest such a great place to go and experience music is that there are clubs and underground cellars where you can down a few beers and dance to really great Hungarian folk music late into the night. It’s also a key ingredient at the Sziget festival. On my last visit to Budapest in May – introducing esteemed editor Jo Frost to the essential elements of Hungarian music – we tore ourselves away from the táncház and headed straight to the airport for an early morning flight. Of course recreating the participatory nature of that sort of music is always difficult onstage – but that’s true of many kinds of folk and traditional music. Also in Hungarian Heartbeats are cimbalom players Kálmán Balogh and Miklós Lukács. Balogh was the star of our Tools of the Trade piece on the cimbalom in #55 and he’s taking the instrument in new directions with fellow virtuoso Lukács. Similarly, flute and sax player, Mihály Dresch takes the folk music into a more improvised jazz world, and guitarist Miklós Both, from the band Napra, plays in the style of a Gypsy fiddler, but on electric guitar. There are two terrific female vocalists – Kátya Tompos who sings with Söndörgő, and Ági Szalóki who is very versatile and involved in lots of different projects. By timely coincidence, there’s also The Very Best of Muzsikás compilation album coming out on Nascente. This band, and the fabulous singer Márta Sebestyén were well represented in the UK by Joe Boyd’s Hannibal label, back in the 80s and 90s. But a whole new audience has come to world music since then who won’t know their sound, so it’s good they can get a chance to hear them. They are also playing at Ealing Town Hall on Hungary’s National Day – October 23. So hopefully a foretaste of lots of good Hungarian music to come. This issue Songlines comes with an extra covermount CD of Australian roots music, with a few Songlines favourites to be found on there too. See p31 for details.
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Printing Polestar Colchester Ltd, Severalls Industrial Estate, Colchester, Essex CO4 4HT. Record trade distribution Worldwide Magazine Distributors. Tel: 0121 788 3112 UK newsstand & overseas newstrade distribution COMAG Specialist Division. Tel: 01895 433800 All rights are reserved. Reproduction in any manner, in whole or in part, is strictly forbidden without the prior written consent of the publishers. No responsibility for incorrect information can be accepted. The views expressed in the articles are those of the author, and not necessarily of the publisher. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of statements in Songlines, we cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions or for matters arising from clerical or printer’s errors, or for advertisers not completing their contracts. Songlines is also available in audio format from the Talking Newspaper Association, tel: 01435 866102, www.tnauk.org.uk Songlines (ISSN No: 1464-8113) is published Jan/Feb, Mar, Apr/May, June, July, Aug/Sep, Oct, Nov/Dec by Songlines Publishing and is distributed in the USA by Mercury International as mailing agent. Periodicals postage paid at Rahway, NJ. and additional mailing offices. Published by Songlines Publishing Ltd, PO Box 54209, London, W14 0WU. ISSN 1464-8113 © 2009 Songlines Publishing Ltd Songlines logo trade mark, registered under No. 2427714. Directors: Simon Broughton, Mark Ellingham, Paul Geoghegan, Lyn Hughes and Chris Pollard
✈ Songlines offsets its writers’ flights with ClimateCare. 1The text paper for this magazine is printed on 100% de-inked post consumer waste.
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PS If you’re already thinking of Christmas present ideas, why not offer someone a Songlines gift subscription? As well as the CD incentives, it will also include a highly useful Songlines wall calendar. See the insert on p18 or visit www.songlines.co.uk/xmas
on the SONGLINES stereo alex Sezen Aksu’s Öptüm. Nothing like some Turkish pop to get you grooving
sophie The beautiful Diamond Mine by King Creosote and Jon Hopkins
courtesy of iwona Still a big fan of Sarah Jarosz, having seen her in concert this summer
Jo Yo-Yo Ma’s intriguingly titled album The Goat Rodeo Sessions
SONGLINES DIGITAL SONGLINES DIGITAL Look out for this symbol throughout the issue to see which free tracks are available for subscribers. For a free trial see www.songlines.co.uk/digital
h NEXT ISSUE Free 2012 wall calendar for subscribers, see p18 Songlines 7
On your free CD – the editor’s selection of the top ten albums reviewed in this issue
Kiran Ahluwalia ‘Mustt Mustt’
From the album Aam Zameen: Common Ground on Kiran Music The Canadian-Indian singer is joined by Touareg guests for an album of joyful AfroIndian songs. See p96
From the album Sem Nostalgia on Mais Um Discos Santtana infuses Brazilian music with his own ideas and grooves. See p79
Lucas Santtana ‘Super Violão Mashup’
Bako Dagnon ‘Bè Bé Bori i No Fè’
From the album Sidiba on Discograph The esteemed Malian jelimuso combines old and new for an album that is deep and impressive.
Ali Khattab ‘Tangos del Nilo’
From the album Al-Zarqa on Nuevos Medios The Cairo-born guitarist performs new flamenco with a North African twist.
From the album Traveller on Deutsche Grammophon Sitarist Anoushka steps out of the shadow of her father with a thrilling flamenco fusion. See p98
From the album Rrakala on Skinnyfish Music/Dramatico Gurrumul’s second album retains the same sensitivity of his acclaimed debut, while highlighting more varied influences. See p95
1 4 † 6
Anoushka Shankar ‘Casi Uno’
Amira ‘Zemi Me Zemi’
From the album Amulette on World Village Bosnia’s finest sevdah singer takes the traditional Bosnian song form in new directions. See p82
Cimarrón ‘Joropo Quitapesares’
From the album Joropo Music from the Plains of Colombia on Smithsonian Folkways Upbeat, rural Colombian music from the nine-piece acoustic outfit. See p76
Turn over to see Mickey Hart’s playlist »
From the album Music of Georges I Gurdjieff on ECM New life for Gurdjieff ’s Armenian folk. See p93
From the album The Wind Horse on Hohhot Records An impressive debut for these fiddle-playing Mongolians. See p91
The Gurdjieff Folk Instruments Ensemble ‘Caucasian Dance’
New to Songlines? Subscribe now and get a
Anda Union ‘Galloping Horses’
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We’re giving away a choice of Anoushka Shankar, Gurrumul or Anda Union’s new albums (to new subscribers only). See the flyer inside your covermount CD for details, visit www.songlines.co.uk/cd80 or call +44 (0)20 7371 2777.
My World Mickey Hart
The ethnomusicologist and drummer for the Grateful Dead talks to Songlines about the inspiration behind the rock band’s unusual sounds words N i g e l W i l l i a m s o n
Gopal Shankar Misra ‘Raga Darbari Kanhra’
From the album Out of Stillness on Real World The late Indian musician Gopal Shankar Misra played the veena, the world’s oldest stringed instrument. ‘To listen to it played so magnificently is to hear where it all came from,’ says Hart.
The Bali Sessions ‘Jayan Tangis’
From the album Living Art, Sounding Spirit on Smithsonian Folkways This is an album that Hart produced himself after a recording expedition to Bali in 1998.
Various Artists ‘Elephant Hunting
From the album Mbuti Pygmies of the Ituri Rainforest on Smithsonian Folkways Hart fondly recalls this album from his youth: ‘I was fascinated by how the voices echoed the natural world around them.’
King Sunny Ade ‘Sunny Ti De’
From the album The Best of the Classic Years on Serengeti A key moment in Hart’s love of modern West African music came when he saw King Sunny Ade on his first major tour of the US in 1982.
Alla Rakha and Zakir Hussain ‘Tintal’
From the album Tabla Duet on Moment Records Hart first met tabla maestro Alla Rakha back in 1967 at the Monterey Pop Festival and has worked with his son Zakir Hussain on a regular basis. 10 Songlines
includes solo projects, his own field recordings and music from The Endangered Music Project. When Songlines catches up with Hart, it immediately becomes clear that his interest in what we now call ‘world music’ dates back almost all of his life. ‘‘I grew up in the 1950s and my mother had a lot of records,’’ he recalls. “I loved her Count Basie and Duke Ellington recordings and I remember
‘‘I remember finding... a Folkways LP of pygmies recorded in the Congo. I was fascinated by how the voices echoed the natural world around them” finding among them a Folkways LP of pygmies recorded in the Congo. I was fascinated by how the voices echoed the natural world around them and it stayed with me. The Mbuti Pygmies of the Ituri Rainforest CD contains those same recordings I first heard as a kid.’’ His exposure to Latin music, reflected in his choice of Tito Puente, was just as early. ‘‘I grew up in New York and mambo was everywhere. It was the hot music of the day and in those Latin bands led by people like Tabla genius Zakir Hussain who regularly works with Hart
Also on your CD: five tracks chosen by Mickey Hart
he Grateful Dead were never an ordinary rock band, and in his three decades with the group, Mickey Hart was certainly not your average four-to-the-floor rock’n’roll drummer. Although the Dead never played ‘world music,’ their music was characterised by unusual rhythms seldom heard in rock music – and those rhythms in large part came from Hart’s fascination with Latin, African, Indian and other global styles. Away from the Grateful Dead, his wideranging musical interests led him to collaborate with fellow percussion masters from around the world and in 1976, he released an album called Diga, a collaboration with tabla player Zakir Hussain, and a thrilling proto-world music fusion, long before the term had even been invented. By the late 80s he had become a respected ethnomusicologist, working with the Smithsonian Institution, where he became a trustee of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and with the Library of Congress’ Archive of Folk Culture, which contains some 50,000 field recordings of indigenous music from around the globe. Hart began releasing material from the archive under the banner, The Endangered Music Project, remastering for the first time on CD music recorded in locations from the Nubian Desert to Papua New Guinea’s rainforest. His 1991 album Planet Drum, which featured the likes of Zakir Hussain, Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji and the Brazilian couple Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, won the inaugural Grammy Award for Best World Music Album. It was accompanied by a book, Planet Drum: A Celebration of Percussion and Rhythm, in which he explored the role of drumming in different global cultures. He also began travelling the globe to record indigenous music in locations as far apart as Bali and the Arctic Circle. Now comes the release on Smithsonian Folkways of The Mickey Hart Collection, a 25-album set (available digitally and on demand) that
Balinese gamelan ensemble recorded by Hart in 1998
Machito and Tito, I was conscious you could hear the rhythms that had come from West Africa in the slave ships. I finally got to play with Tito just before he died, at the Library of Congress in 2000 when he was given a living legend award.’’ Hart’s interest in Indian music is evident in two choices. His selection of a tabla duet by Alla Rakha and his son Zakir Hussain has a strongly personal connection. ‘‘I first met Alla Rakha in 1967 when he played with Ravi Shankar at the Monterey Pop Festival and he
Mickey Hart with Airto Moreira, Babatunde Olatunji and Carlos Santana
became my teacher. He was the maestro and he changed my life: the tabla he gave me is sitting right here in my office as I’m talking to you. Then when Zakir first came to America he lived with me and we’ve been working together ever since. But there’s nothing like hearing father and son locked in together on a 16-beat tintal.’’ Of his choice of a track from Gopal X asjbc lakhscv jlahsvc Shankar Misra’s Out of Stillness album, lksdvb sdb vlsdbv he simply says, ‘‘the veena is the lksbdv world’s lksbd v oldest stringed instrument and to listen to it played so magnificently is to hear where it all came from.’’ A key moment in Hart’s love of modern West African music came when he saw King Sunny Ade on his first major tour of America in 1982. “I took Jerry Garcia with me to see him in San Francisco and the talking drums were so loud they punched you in the chest. There were all these African poly-rhythms which had influenced music in America. But you then had the reverb and effects on the electric guitar, which was African musicians being influenced by American rock’n’roll. So you could hear the musical trade winds blowing in both directions.’’ His final choice is one of his own recordings – although with fitting modesty, it’s one that he produced rather than plays on. Having already compiled the CD Music for the Gods from gamelan recordings made for the Library of Congress in Indonesia in 1941, Hart set out on his own expedition to Bali in 1998. Over three days and nights he made the recordings subsequently released as The Bali Sessions: Living Art, Sounding Spirit. ‘‘I followed my heart and my ears rather than taking an ethnomusicological approach. Someone described gamelan as ‘the music of the roaring seas’ and I reckon that’s about right.’’ l review The Mickey Hart Collection is featured in the Reviews section, p101 Podcast Hear Mickey Hart’s Tito Puente track choice on this issue’s podcast online www.mickeyhart.net Songlines 11
CO W TO W N째
° H OT
Western swing is undergoing a big boom in popularity, thanks largely to the foot-tapping, swingin’ trio from Austin, Hot Club of Cowtown. Tim Cumming checks out what makes them holler usa
P H OTO K e l ly K e r r
Songlines Music Travel Taking you where the music happens
2012 TRIPS BOOK NOW! If the end of summer and the prospect of a long, dreary winter is making you gloomy, then why not check out the extensive range of trips on offer for next year? There’s nothing quite like experiencing music in situ – in an intimate club or at a festival, alongside local people with food and wine. But it’s not always easy to find these places. That’s why Songlines Music Travel offer the perfect trips for music lovers worldwide, bringing you the excitement of real music directly where it’s made. Whether it’s Gnawa
music from Morocco; Portugal’s equivalent to the blues, fado, in Lisbon’s tavernas; Malian music at the Festival on the Niger or soulful morna on West Africa’s Cape Verde’s islands, Songlines offer small, tailormade trips with music experts to guarantee a holiday to remember.
New Year in the Caribbean
Salvador & São Paulo
Flamenco in the heart of Andalucia
Kriol Jazz Festival Praia
The Festival on the Niger
Sounds of the Spice Island
ALEX ROBINSON; SIMON BROUGHTON
● Cuba New Year December 29, 2011-January 12, 2012 ● Mali & the Festival on the Niger February 11-20, 2012 ● Zanzibar Sounds of the Spice Island February 6-13, 2012 ● Brazil Salvador & São Paulo February 16-25, 2012 ● Spain Jerez ‘Flamenco in the Heart of Andalucía’ March 2-5, 2012 ● Senegal Never Mind the Mbalax March 23-April 1, 2012 ● Cape Verde NEW TRIP Kriol Jazz Festival, Praia April 12-19, 2012 ● Scotland Shetlands Folk Festival May 3-7, 2012 ●C uba The Music of Cuba May 6-20 or May 13-20, 2012 ●P ortugal Lisbon ‘The Home of Fado’ June 14-17, 2012
● Morocco Essaouira Gnawa Festival June 21-25 or June 21-28, 2011* ● Malaysia Rainforest Festival July 9-16 or July 9-21, 2012 ● Serbia Guča Brass Band Festival August 9-14, 2012* ● Portugal Lisbon ‘The Home of Fado’ September 6-9, 2012 ●C uba The Music of Cuba September 16-30 or September 23-30, 2012 ● Morocco & the Sahara September 22-30, 2012 ● Malawi Lake of Stars festival October 2012* ● Mali The Beating Heart of the Mande Empire October 13-22, 2012 ● India Rajisthan & Jodhpur Riff October 15-31, 2012 ● Senegal Never Mind the Mbalax November 23-Dec 2, 2012 ● Cuba New Year December 30 2012-January 13, 2013
Visit www.songlinesmusictravel.com Call +44 (0)20 8505 2582 Email email@example.com * 2012 Festival dates still to be announced, trip dates subject to change. The Songlines Music Travel Tours are operated by the Tailor Made Groups Company. The air holiday packages advertised are ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 9349. Please see our booking conditions for more information. ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services advertised. All non flight inclusive packages for UK customers are also protected by a TOPP policy.
The Southbank Centre on the banks of the Thames
Europe’s largest Carnival in Notting Hill
2012 will see the metropolis firmly in the spotlight as the Olympics come to town. A true global village, London has an unmatched nightlife. Nathaniel Handy give a flavour of what’s on offer
here do you start with London? The great gateway city to Europe is the continent’s largest, and has a population to match. Yet unlike many a European nation, that population is a microcosm of the world. Browse Brick Lane’s Bengali sarees on Monday. Tuesday, head to the Korean malls of New Malden. Take it easy limin’ on Peckham Rye’s main drag Wednesday. Practice your Kurdish over kofte in Manor House on Thursday. Friday, muscle a space at a Somali social club table in Kentish Town. Feel the bhangra beat in Southall on Saturday. And wind down with a shisha pipe and a Lebanese coffee on Edgware Road come Sunday. London can be breathtaking and bewildering. Getting the most out of any visit to the UK capital takes insider knowledge. There are the obvious – and physically unmissable – cultural and artistic heavy weights, of course. The sprawling Southbank Centre opened in 1951 for the post-war, morale-boosting Festival of Britain. Its modernist concrete corridors alongside the River Thames
have had a recent facelift, with new plazas of restaurants, bars and cafés giving it a less austere character. It houses the vast Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall, and the more intimate Purcell Room. Its programme includes the annual Meltdown festival – curated by a different musical giant each year (most recently, English folk legend Richard Thompson and iconoclastic Kinks frontman Ray Davies) – and September’s London African Music Festival. Counterbalancing the Southbank Centre on the other side of the city is the Barbican Centre – the largest performing arts centre in Europe – built on the site of earlier Roman city defences. It too is a modernist concrete masterpiece – or monstrosity, depending on your tastes – and the two centres divvy up most of the world music stars who tour to London, often whole gaggles of them in regular annual festivals. The Barbican calendar includes the midsummer Blaze festival and Transcender focusing on devotional music in the autumn. The one gripe with these large, airy, comfortable and well-programmed
venues is that, rather like a forlorn football fan at the shiny new Emirates Stadium in North London, you find that you are so far away from the action that some of the spark of magic goes out of the occasion. No eager standing up and dancing – however danceable the music might be – before the encore is well under way. It’s why the more interesting gigs often take place at London’s multitude of smaller venues, the equivalent of a pie and Bovril League Two game watched in the terraces at East End minnows, Leyton Orient. It’s worth checking out the Songlines Gig Guide (www.songlines.co.uk/gigs) to see where’s hot and who’s playing. The listings here – by no means definitive – are a mix of venues, small and large, that have a roster of mainstream, world and folk fare. Some are the little backstreet places that you need to follow your nose to find, offering the chance to see acts up close and personal in an often highly atmospheric setting, such as old music halls and churches. You will often hear music surrounded by an expat community from its home country. »
The capital’s skyline is sprawling and ever changing, very much like its gig scene www.songlines.co.uk
S O U ND I N G
O U T
Recent gigs here have included Fatoumata Diawara and Dele Sosimi
Gypsy jazz at Quecumbar
The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, North London
Europe’s largest multi-arts complex is the venue of choice for most of the big world music acts who come to London on tour. Recent highlights have been Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, Ravi Shankar and Gurrumul. Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS, +44 (0)20 7638 8891 Tube: Barbican www.barbican.org.uk
Southbank Centre One of the world’s premier arts centres which recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. It’s home to four resident orchestras and numerous artists-in-residence, including Songlines fave folkies Bellowhead. There are three performance spaces: the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Room. Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX, +44 (0)20 7960 4200 Tube: Waterloo, Embankment www.southbankcentre.co.uk
KOKO This Grade II-listed venue opened as the Camden Theatre in 1900 and has seen a huge variety of artists across the century, including Charlie Chaplin, the Clash and Madonna. Coming up are gigs from Euro-pop-Balkan maverick Shantel and his Bucovina Club Orkestar, Touaregs du jour Tinariwen and Afro-beat’s Seun Kuti. It’s also 60 Songlines
home to the biggest and most glittering disco ball in the capital.
1A Camden High Street, NW1 7JE, +44 (0)870 432 5527 Tube: Camden or Mornington Crescent www.koko.uk.com
An ambitious cultural centre in the East End that programmes stacks of world sounds with an emphasis on black and ethnic minority musicians. Regular monthly events include the Dash Arabic Series, Global Local and Movimientos club nights.
This Grade II-listed former steam 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA, +44 (0)20 7613 7498 engine repair shed has an annual Tube: Shoreditch High Street, Old Street roster of star names to suit all musical www.richmix.org.uk tastes. Only five years on from a £30 million redevelopment, Union Chapel the centre focuses on new languages A working church on music, and recent events spoken in Islington’s hip eating and include everything from London drinking hub, Upper Street. Arabic hip-hop to Mexican Perfect for intimate, delicate wrestling. Chalk Farm Road, NW1 8EH, music with atmospheric lighting and +44 (0)20 7424 9992 the audience arranged in the pews or Tube: Chalk Farm, Camden Town the gallery – and there’s even a www.roundhouse.org.uk village hall-like bar upstairs.
Kings Place Brand spanking new venue in the heart of the massive regeneration area of Kings Cross, offering oodles of world and folk music in week-long events curated by different musicians and staged in its acoustically superb concert halls. Festivals include the inaugural Songlines Encounters Festival in June 2011. 90 York Way, N1 9AG, +44 (0)20 7520 1490 Tube: Kings Cross St Pancras www.kingsplace.co.uk
Morley Von Sternberg
London’s newest arts complex, Kings Place
Compton Avenue, N1 2XD, +44 (0)20 7226 1686 Tube: Highbury & Islington www.unionchapel.org.uk
St Ethelburga’s Having been partly destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1993, this church has been resurrected as a Centre for Reconciliation and Peace. It now holds regular world music concerts as part of its mission to deepen ties and understanding across cultures. Small, low key and intimate.
78 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AG, +44 (0)20 7496 1610
Tube: Bank, Liverpool Street www.stethelburgas.org
Wilton’s Music Hall One of London’s secret gems, this is one of the East End’s original music halls from the 1850s, and the oldest one surviving in the world – an impossibly atmospheric crumbling film set of a venue, like Havana indoors. Graces Alley, E1 8JB Tube: Aldgate East, Tower Hill www.wiltons.org.uk
Cecil Sharp House The spiritual home of English folk, this is the English Folk Dance & Song Society HQ, named in honour of the man who did so much to revive a tradition on the brink of extinction. Regular concerts and exhibitions make this a must for all folk music lovers. 2 Regent’s Park Road, NW1 7AY, +44 (0)20 7485 2206 Tube: Camden Town, Chalk Farm www.efdss.org
Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan The UK branch of the organisation founded in Bombay in 1938 to promote Indian arts and culture offers regular Indian classical music and dance events within the fine acoustics of a 295-seater auditorium set inside an old church building, as well as summer schools, workshops and even November/December 2011
an Indian music degree course. 4a Castletown Road, W14 9HE, +44 (0)20 7381 4608 Tube: West Kensington www.bhavan.net
Sadler’s Wells The UK’s premiere dance venue, featuring everything from tango to kathak, is known for commissioning bold new shows and presenting world class performers. It stages the annual London Flamenco Festival, a highlight of the city’s music and dance calendar. Rosebery Avenue, EC1R 4TN, +44 (0)20 7863 8198 Tube: Angel www.sadlerswells.com
310 Uxbridge Road, W12 7LJ, +44 (0)20 8222 6955 Tube: Shepherd’s Bush Market www.bushhallmusic.co.uk
Café OTO Hyper-trendy café music venue that is relatively new to the scene having opened in 2008 and now offers highly eclectic live music getting on for seven days a week. You may not have heard of the varied global acts playing here, but you are very likely to hear something unlike anything you have ever heard before.
This dark, urban live music venue is a firm fixture on the East End club scene Watch out for 18-22 Ashwin Street, E8 3DL, Olympics curtain +44 (0)20 7923 1231 and is housed within raiser, the Tube: Dalston Junction brick railway arches, River of Music, www.cafeoto.co.uk offering everything July 21-22 from dance to folk, rock Green Note to roots. 83 Rivington Street, Shoreditch, EC2A A contender for the smallest 3AY, +44 (0)20 7749 7840 venue in London, this vegetarian Tube: Shoreditch High Street, café-bar programmes everyOld Street thing from folk and blues to www.cargo-london.com roots, world, jazz and bluegrass.
Despite its name, this long established venue on the central crossroads of Camden Town is a surprisingly intimate place to see live world music. The ambience is dark and moody and the venue has a small balcony restaurant that’s a great vantage point for watching the stage. 5 Parkway, Camden, NW1 7PG, +44 (0)20 7485 6834 Tube: Camden Town www.meanfiddler.com
One of the capital’s most atmospheric venues, Union Chapel
World City Music Village in the verdant setting of Hyde Park
This restored dance hall is located in Shepherd’s Bush, offering West-enders a space in which to hear alternative and world sounds with an emphasis on avant-garde and folk music acts from the UK and the US.
106 Parkway, NW1 7AN, +44 (0)20 7485 9899 Tube: Camden Town www.greennote.co.uk
Festivals Notting Hill Carnival
Held every August Bank Holiday since 1966, this is Europe’s largest carnival with its roots in the Trinidadian community of West London. It fills the streets of Notting Hill with over 40 sound systems, Caribbean food stalls galore and parades of hip-shaking dancers. www.nottinghillcarnival.com
La Linea Every April the capital’s top Latin music festival plays host to a wide range of the continent’s top musicians, as well as some of the best new collaborations involving Latin music. www.comono.co.uk
London Jazz Festival
A French-style brasserie that specialises in the music of Django Reinhardt and all things Gypsy swing.
Running throughout November, this long established festival first emerged as the Camden Jazz Week in the 1970s, and now plays host to a wide range of world music. 2011 will see Zakir Hussain, Toumani Diabaté and Alison Krauss on the bill.
42-44 Battersea High Street, SW11 3HX, +44 (0)20 7787 2227 Station: Clapham Junction www.quecumbar.co.uk
Celebrating Sanctuary London This annual free festival launches
With the demise of Stern’s, Borders and Virgin, the choice of places to go and buy music is on the decline. Here’s a selection of the best places where you can still pick up those Top of the World albums:
Rough Trade Rough Trade East, Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL Rough Trade West, 130 Talbot Road, W11 1JA www.roughtrade.com www.songlines.co.uk
London’s Refugee Week in mid-June on three stages set up in the Bernie Spain Gardens on the Southbank. The one-day festival brings a host of world music talent, as well as food, theatre and dance, to the riverside. www.refugeeweek.org.uk
World City Music Village This project is famous for bringing the music of diaspora communities to London’s green spaces, such as Kew Gardens and Hyde Park. The next event is on the eve of the Olympics. www.culturalco-operation.org
Darbar Festival The UK’s leading festival of Indian classical music has now made its home at Kings Place. The seventh edition of the festival will take place next September 27-30. www.darbar.org
LIFEM The London International Festival of Exploratory Music doesn’t need any explanation. It takes place at various venues in East London every autumn. www.lifem.org.uk
Honest Jons 278 Portobello Road, W10 5TE, www.honestjons.com
HMV Oxford Street 150 Oxford Street, W1D 1DJ, hmv.com
Rays Jazz 113-119 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0EB www.foyles.co.uk/rays-jazz-music
BE G INNE R ’ S
G U I D E
Rachid Taha, North Africa’s punk-rock hero
The North African singer’s incendiary music and caustic lyrics are as relevant today as when he began his career back in the 80s W ords A n dy M o r g a n
n 2004, Rachid Taha released an angry, probing, tank-plated fist of an album called Tékitoi. On it there’s a song called ‘Safi’ in which Taha growls out his frustration over a deep-core bass, trilling oud and thrash metal guitars: ‘The oppression is great! The government has gagged the people. Our culture is the one-party state. No law, no respect. But my heart is pure!’ Listening back to it now, ‘Safi’ sounds like a perfect anthem for the Arab Spring. In fact, Rachid Taha’s entire output, with its mix of punk, metal, techno and the entire contents of your favourite North African corner shop, sounds like it was recorded to accompany an imminent Arab uprising of some kind or another. The problem is, when most of his records were released, no one was chanting slogans down in Tahrir Square. In musical terms at least, Taha often seemed to be out
there manning the barricades on his own, lobbing lyrical Molotovs at the orcs and goblins of France and Arabia in a molten rasping voice, dangling his carrion-bird frame from the mic stand like the demented Algerian cousin of Johnny Rotten. It’s been a lonely battle. Doubtless anyone less mouthy, ornery and wickedly intelligent than Taha would have jacked it all in a long time ago. His refusal to become a cuddly, cabaret pop dolly like many of his crooning Algerian contemporaries has earned him the barbed reputation of a maverick North African punk hero. Taha’s records fidget uncomfortably in the Algerian rai section, the French rock section, the world music section or any other section that your local record shop or online emporium might dream up. You need infinite flexibility of categorisation to do his
Taha’s last album was Bonjour, released in 2009
music any justice at all. Somehow Taha took the wrong turn when he arrived in France in 1968, after a decade growing up in the town of Sig, in Algeria’s wild, wild western province of Oran. Instead of hauling up the drawbridge and wallowing in the false security of the community into which he was born – like so many North African immigrants chose to do – Taha left his home in the wooded hills of Alsace to go out and do battle with the racism, economic despair and general snobbishness of France in the late 70s. He worked for a while as a travelling salesman and a skivvy in a heating appliance factory near Lyon. He also started a club there called Les Refoulés (The Rejects), where the music policy was… no music policy. Everything from Led Zep, the New York Dolls, the Clash, the Who and Johnny Cash to Nass El Ghiwane, Oum Kalthoum, Farid El Atrache and Camarón de la Isla was deemed fair fodder for the wheels of steel. With this musical self-education, it’s not surprising that Taha’s first band, Carte de Séjour (Resident’s Permit), was unique from the word go; a bunch of French and North African rockers ranting about the ills of French society was a rare sighting in the early 80s. The band’s version of Charles Trenet’s ‘Douce France’ was an inspired piece of provocation, tearing up the country’s tourist board image of sun-kissed vineyards, curlicued elegance and gastronomic refinement and defiling one of French popular music’s most sacred heirlooms in the process. Taha saw the Clash play at the Mogador in Paris in 1982 and managed to hand them a tape of Carte de Séjour songs after the gig. Naturally, he never heard back, but when the song ‘Rock The Casbah’ came out later that year… well, you could forgive Taha for thinking he’d planted some kind of seed. Twenty years later he repaid the compliment by recording his own version of the song. It was also in 1982 that Taha first met and teamed up with ex-Gong guitarist and
Rachid Taha moved to France in the late 60s www.songlines.co.uk
visionary producer Steve Hillage. Although Taha has always abhorred the snobbery of the English rock scene, this particular AngloFrench-Algerian marriage turned out to be blessed by some higher being. It produced four of the most radical and groundbreaking albums in the recent history of North African inspired music: Olé Olé, Diwân, Made in Medina and Tékitoi. Diwân is the masterpiece of the quartet. It has become the road map for any worthwhile rock or electro detour into the music of the Maghreb. Hillage’s innate curiosity about the musical culture of the Arab world – and many other worlds besides – combined with his Brit-instinct for knowing what rocks and what doesn’t, made him the perfect partner for Taha.
Rachid Taha’s greatness has always been his refusal to compromise For a while it seemed as if the partnership was positively indestructible, but unfortunately the pair fell out in 2008, for reasons that remain thankfully obscure. Taha decided to work with Gaëtan Roussel from the mega-famous French rockers Louise Attaque and the producer Mark Plati on his most recent album Bonjour. All the ingredents were there, but the Hillage X factor wasn’t, and you feel its absence from the first earful. At its very best, the HillageTaha partnership produced music that walks a high wire between raw rock power and North African subtlety, without ever tipping too predictably either way. Taha’s greatness has always been his refusal to compromise. He never strolls down the obvious path, peddling the obvious political views or hawking pre-scripted fusions from the Exotic Maghrebi Rock songbook. Everything he says or records or does is designed to test you and test himself. When he peroxided his hair and wore Aryan blue contact lenses for the cover of Olé Olé, he was sticking it to all the lily-livered TV producers in France who daren’t sully their studios with the presence of an Arab. And he was also teasing his macho homophobic Arab contemporaries. ‘Look what a fey pretty boy I can be,’ he was saying. ‘I hope you feel disgusted.’ That’s pure Taha. His mission has always been to make you feel uncomfortable, and more importantly, to make you think, whoever you might be – Arab, English, French, rocker, intellectual – it hardly matters. Of course, that mission wouldn’t be worth a Barbary monkey’s fart if it weren’t accompanied by searingly powerful and innovative music. Long live the revolution! l
Diwân (Barclay, 1998) The apotheosis of the Rachid Taha-Steve Hillage partnership in which the blend of North African with rock, techno or dub achieves perfect equilibrium and power. The album consists of cover versions of old North African classics and features ‘Ya Rayah,’ the old Dahmane El Harrachi song about exile and nostalgia, which has become one of the biggest North African dance floor classics of all time. Olé Olé (Barclay, 1995) The moment when Taha embraced techno, musically and sartorially. It could have been a disaster, but Hillage was on hand to make sure it was a triumph. The anthem ‘Voilà Voilà,’ about the resurgence of right-wing extremism in La Douce France, is a classic, worthy of any barricade or mass demo. Made in Medina (Barclay, 2000) Despite the cool designer minimalism of the front cover, the mood grows more sombre on this album, the guitars more lethal in their chainsaw intensity. It sets the vibes up nicely for 9/11 and the decade that follows. Tékitoi (Wrasse/Universal France, 2004) “I dreamed of singing about my own nightmares.” That’s how Taha describes the genesis of his last collaboration with Steve Hillage. The mood is darker than ever before and the existential question in the title, which means ‘Who the f**k are you?’ in French slang, is central. Pure metal Maghreb of the highest order. Reviewed in #26.
Barbès (Nord Sud/Barclay, 1990) For his first solo sortie, Taha decided to team with producer Godwin Logie. The result isn’t bad, just mediocre, with that textbook cod-funk production that was the signature sound of late 80s sono-mondiale Paris. There are no grounds for immortality here. Taha would have to start working with Steve Hillage to make the grade.
If You Like Rachid Taha, Then Try...
Kalashnik Love (Realworld, 2009) Rachid Taha has many musical offspring, but oud maestro Mehdi Haddab and Speed Caravan are among the most raw, heavy and exciting. The combination of Haddab’s virtuosity and dazzling speed, the smoky elegance of the Arabesque themes and the sheer torque of the backing tracks makes for an exhilarating ride. A Top of the World in #64. Speed Caravan – rock’n’roll style oud playing
podcast Hear music from Rachid Taha on this issue’s podcast Songlines 63
S UB S C R I B E
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e Kasse Mady Diabaté Manden Djeli Kan The great Malian singer steps centre stage. A Top of the World in #60
u Femi Kuti Africa for Africa Thrilling sax and raw Nigerian Afro-beat on one of Femi’s best albums. A Top of the World in #73
r Iness Mezel
Beyond The Trance Mezel’s edgier take on the North African Berber-infused sound. A Top of the World in #75
Welcome to Bregovi´c A compilation of the best from the 2010 Songlines Music Award winner. Reviewed in #62
t Los De Abajo Actitud Calle Progressive ideologies set to festive, beat-driven salsa and rock. Reviewed in #73
o Souad Massi O Houria A variety of languages and emotions from the Algerian singersongwriter. Reviewed in #73
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3 Da Cruz ‘Boom Boom Boom’ from Sistema Subversiva on Six Degrees. See review on p96
1 Pokey LaFarge and 2 Peatbog Faeries the South City Three ‘So Long Honeybee, Goodbye’ from Middle of Everywhere on Continental Song City. See review on p77
4 Karine Polwart ‘The Good Year’ from This Earthly Spell on Hegri Music. See Grooves on p24
‘Abhainn a’ Nathair’ from Dust on Peatbog Records. See review on p85
5 Hot Club of Cowtown ‘She’s Killing Me’ from What Makes Bob Holler on Proper Records. See feature on p52
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View sample pages from the current edition of Songlines (Nov/Dec2011 #80). The magazine is available on subscription in print and digital. M...