August 30, 2012

KEXP gets hip to Jovanotti

I wondered on this blog in 2010 if America was ready for the Italian world-music superstar Jovanotti, whose songs I love and believe in, as he readied a musical invasion on these shores across the Atlantic (after two decades of collaborating in Europe with everyone from his pal Bono to Ben Harper, Sergio Mendes, Michael Franti, and The Beastie Boys).

Later that summer, I shared my massively radiant delight at getting to interview him on a pier in Santa Monica about music, creativity, social justice, and the importance of rhythm. I’ve argued vociferously that his music can enrich and expand your aural life, even if you don’t parlo a lick of italiano. The way his voice flows over the consonants and vowels is hypnotic — at times blissful like a sedative, at times ennervating like a tumble in a rock polisher where everything gets smooth and brilliant.

Now Jovanotti has gone and visited Seattle’s KEXP (!) to record his first ever U.S. radio performance – a completely delightful session that I hope will convert legions of you guys to his music. After a jaunt down the West Coast this month (including a stop at Amoeba Music), he is on tour across the U.S. for the first time in October, playing all sorts of wonderful venues that you know and love. I guarantee you (as in, I will reimburse you the cost of your concert ticket) that if you take a chance with him, it will be one of the most mind-bendingly exuberant concerts you have ever seen. The KEXP session feels more like the sedative we talked about (a happy sedative), while his full show is a spettacolo of rhythm and color.

Jovanotti just released his first album of music specifically for an American audience, the Italia 1988-2012 collection, on the venerable ATO Records imprint (My Morning Jacket, Alabama Shakes, Hey Rosetta!, Allen Stone, and Two Gallants, among others). The tracks are hand-picked for us and our American tastes –whatever that means– from Jovanotti’s long and varied career, and forego some of his massive European hits (that are as fun as hell to sing along to, or to watch Italians sing along to) in favor of a whole different feel.

As KEXP host Darek Mazzone says to Jovanotti at the end of the session: “you’re gonna blow up, your lives are gonna be different — you’re gonna make it in America.” The KEXP write-up speculates that Jovanotti is on the brink of success in the U.S., after playing Bonnaroo (and Outside Lands, and Austin City Limits Festival come October). KEXP’s Ian Robinson writes:

“[This was] one of the most interesting interviews ever conducted in our studio not only because of his thick accent (the way he says “giraffe” is worth it alone) but also because the truly beautiful and inspiring things he has to say about what music truly means to an individual and what that means for the world.

Also I’m pretty sure he’s wearing Air Yeezy 2s.”

October 1 – Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
October 2 – Philadelphia, PA – Trocadero
October 5 – Boston, MA – Royale
October 6 – New York, NY – Terminal 5
October 8 – Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse
October 9 – Orlando, FL – House of Blues
October 10 – Miami, FL – The Fillmore Miami Beach
October 12 – Austin, TX – ACL Music Festival
October 14 – Denver, CO – Bluebird Theater
October 15 – Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue
October 17 – Chicago, IL – The Vic Theatre
October 18 – Detroit, MI – Saint Andrew’s Hall

February 23, 2012

an explosion of fantastic

What a way to start the day.

Red Baraat melds Indian dohl drumming with a nine-piece brass band, and whoa – that’s a whole lot of fun to pack into the NPR Tiny Desk space. They’re from Brooklyn and are playing the weekend I am in NYC. Count me in.

October 13, 2010

Talkin’ italiano with Jovanotti


I’m intrigued by music that crosses borders, geographically and within perceived divisions of genres. As I’ve grown into a happily well-traveled, curious adult, I’ve (obviously) enjoyed expanding my ears beyond the pop hits, the oldies, and the cheesy synth hip-hop of my youth. One of the first global, non-American artists that started pushing some of those borders of my musical geography was the Italian artist Lorenzo Cherubini, known throughout Europe as Jovanotti.

I wrote about him late this past summer when I was preparing to go see his show on the Santa Monica Pier. I flew out to LA and back, spending less than 24 hours basking in this marvelously foreign glow, in order to take advantage of his handful of small-venue United States dates — a rarity for an artist who regularly sells out stadiums in Italy.

Pressed tight and sweaty with hundreds of dancing, singing Italians, lurching forward and back as one organism of enthusiasm, I remembered in their vibrancy what it is about Jovanotti that makes him so infectious. “Every Italian knows at least five Jovanotti songs by heart,” asserted one Italian-American reporter, and the crowd of stylish ex-pats that night certainly proved that point and beyond. I was thrilled by the enthusiasm, and –don’t forget– the dancing.

But you, dear reader, may wonder if it was only the faithful and the foreign who loved his show. No — there were plenty of uninitiated folks in the crowd on that Southern California pier that didn’t know anything more about Lorenzo, other than that respected indie-rock station KCRW was presenting the show, or maybe that, heck, it was an absolutely gorgeous summer evening by the waves. But by the end it seems safe to say that everyone was converted. I saw shining joy on people’s faces as they folded their blankets and put their shoes back on in the deepening summer twilight.

In San Francisco’s Stern Grove a few days later (a show attended by 10,000), the PBS reviewer wrote, “No one has more fun at a Jovanotti concert than Jovanotti himself.”

Jovanotti played a crucial part in my musical horizons opening, and evokes all those intangible boundary-pushing, dazzling moments of a semester spent abroad in a foreign country. He was one of the first artists I loved whose perspectives on the entire world was coming from a completely different place than all of mine.

Therefore, meeting and interviewing him before the Santa Monica show was, to me, akin to meeting Bono (a man Jovanotti calls friend, due to their joint efforts on the Cancel the Debt initiatives in developing countries). Beside the ferris wheel and crashing waves of the Santa Monica pier, he greeted me warmly, we sat down, and we chatted a bit about music, creativity, social justice, and the importance of rhythm.

It was a terrific night.

Jovanotti 060

Fuel/Friends: The press has been writing about this tour and last summer’s tour as your attempt to “cross over” into American music. What do you think of that term, “crossing over”? Is it different when you play here versus Italy? What are your goals here?

Jovanotti: I don’t have any future goals. My only goal here is to have a good show, to make the people fun, to make the people feel good – this is the goal. I am not planning a career here, or trying to win the Grammy award, it’s not that. I’m having fun, I do so many big shows in Italy, you know? The chance for me to do some little shows here was stimulating. My job is to do music. It’s very exciting for me to do music in different places. The best thing is not always to do a stadium, but sometimes just one show in front of one hundred people.

F/F: How are you creatively inspired by the different places you perform?

J: I don’t know… I am more inspired by the different places that I travel. When I perform, it’s always an experience of giving, not of receiving. And so, I divide my life always into two phases – the phases of this out(ward) direction and in. When I do shows and I do tours, it’s the phase of ex-direction, so at the end of the tour I feel more vuoto, more empty than filled.

Then I have to stop and maybe, usually, I can go somewhere, wherever, alone. I go in South America, or Asia, it’s always something that attracts me a lot, to travel and lose myself in a town where no one knows me, and I don’t know nobody. It creates a condition in my mind that permits me to start approaching a new music form.

F/F: So, do you write better at home in Cortona or on the road when you are traveling?

J: Travel is like a way of training your observation. When you are in a place that you know well, you don’t see anything more. Ehm… when you go around the world, it is a way of practicing. My musical colleagues may all do this practicing in different ways, but we all must train our ability to observe, and our ability of creative synthesis. The synthesis is the final goal, to take a concept and synthesize it in one image. It is something that photographers do, it is something that you as a journalist do, with a phrase or an image or a word. Musicians may do it with a melody or a musical atmosphere, or with words.

For me, always the most difficult but stimulating part for me is the lyrical part of my songs. I always start from the lyrics. A song for me doesn’t exist until I have a word that gives me the key to enter the door. Then when I’m inside, I start, and sometimes it comes out in three minutes, sometimes it takes three years, sometimes it takes ten years. But at the end I am looking for the synthesis, when you can distill it down to the essence. I use different techniques. My favorite technique is that of the list. For me it is creatively very inspiring, I have books full of lists of everything. And then from that, it is a way to get an order. You know, creativity is a job. I don’t believe in pure inspiration. I believe in hard work.

F/F: Hmm, I can see your listmaking in your music — a lot of your songs will detail many seemingly simple things that add up to a complete and powerful image or effect.

J: Yes, that’s the way I like to write. I don’t have the talent to create a plot. I admire a lot my colleagues that write a song that is an intricate story. My talent is more impressionistic, less linear. I would like a lot to develop the narrative part to tell a story about somebody, in America, you know you have someone like Paul Simon or other folk songwriters. I love complex stories. It is something I am still not comfortable with what I am doing.

F/F: When you had that conversation with Bono for GQ magazine, you asked him about the moment of opportunity that lay ahead to bring the issue of Cancel the Debt to the forefront again, with the World Cup in Africa, and with Giovanna Melandri. Were your goals achieved with that?

J: No. No. But with Italian politics can be totally distant from our global vision of the world. We have a lot of problems with the politics. Italian politicians don’t have big horizons. The fact is that the African problem and poverty are not sexy from a media point. It is very hard to get the interest of the people. The politicians are only interested in the things that interest the people. The only great thing in Italy is that we have the church, so with the church you can attract the attention in these kinds of topics. So you have to pass through the church to get the attention of the politicians. So working in that way, we’ve made good gains towards Cancel the Debt, but after 9/11, everything started to be much harder in getting that message heard. With the soccer games, our political class didn’t catch the opportunity.

F/F: Are you still working towards African debt cancellation?

J: I am still working with it. But it is very difficult. When you are talking about poorness, people don’t want to know anything about that. It’s very hard when you are talking to push the button of compassion and charity inside people. Because with compassion and charity, we didn’t get many results.

But the next step –the “upgrade”— would be to go at it from a justice standpoint, it is a political justice issue. Poverty is not about a failure, or a lacking. It is a political issue, and Bono is also doing a good job at drawing attention to that. In Italy it is harder, because the church monopolizes the conversation, but uses it in a way that won’t talk about AIDS or other things that are totally central.

F/F: Last question, and then I’ll let you go because it sounds like they are getting ready for you out there. If the 20 year-old Jovanotti DJ could see what the 40 year-old you was doing right now, what do you think he would think?

J: (smiles) I think he would be happy. Maybe criticizing. When I was a DJ, I didn’t like musicians, I liked machines. I was doing hip hop, so for me the drum machine and the computer were all I needed. In the future I would be drawn back in to more machines. Rhythm for me is still the most attractive thing in music, especially when I was growing up. Rhythm has only expanded for me as I have learned more about different kinds of music. It has gotten to be the biggest thing — there’s nothing that I don’t like. But Rhythm and words have always been central. When I did my first commercial enterprise, I called it Soleluna, ritmo e parole – rhythm and words. That is what I will keep looking for, ehi?


Indeed. This video is exactly what my jaunt to Los Angeles was like, in seven pro-shot minutes:

Jovanotti is working on a new album (that’s what he is talking about in that video up there) which will continue to fuse Latin, African, European sounds and beyond. I do hope that he returns to the US, because he is a terrifically versatile, infectiously enthusiastic performer, and if you ever get a chance to see him, you must.

Jovanotti 044

Jovanotti 2010 144

Jovanotti 100

[top photo credit Mary Leipziger, who happened to be walking by. All my photos are on the Fuel/Friends Facebook page]

July 20, 2010

Is America ready for Jovanotti?


When I was studying abroad in Italy in 1999, Italian superstar Jovanotti (aka Lorenzo Cherubini) had just released his eclectic, electronic, pale-blue album Capo Horn, which I bought at Discoteca Fiorentina in a little cobblestone back alley next to the very best panino shop in all of the land. I’d first heard his music when my language teacher at Syracuse Florence had used his song “Per Te” as one of her “songs of the week” on cassette tapes to help us learn italiano. That song was a sweet lullaby to his newborn daughter, but the rest of the album, I came to learn, skated from bleep-bloop odes to extraterrestials, to sunny pop jingles, to rambling spoken word constructions.

I remember Jovanotti’s level of fame that autumn as being somewhere in the league of Bono, a man he actually counts as a friend due to social justice initiatives and songs that they’ve worked on together. Jovanotti first hit fame as a somewhat goofy 20 year-old DJ with ebullient, light-hearted songs, and has grown to be one of the most massive pop music stars Italy has produced in many years.

He’s long incorporated global sounds into his music (one of the most fun songs ever live is his “L’Ombelico del Mondo,” with its massive African drums), and I opened last year’s summer mix with his Spanish/Italian collaboration “Storia di un Corazon.” Lorenzo sold out a string of shows at NYC’s Joe’s Pub last year –packed with ex-pat Italians and Williamsburg cognoscenti alike– and The Philadelphia Inquirer called him “a musician whose time in the U.S. has come.” He also did a marvelous interview on NPR’s All Things Considered. I’ve never had a chance to test out for myself what a Jovanotti show will be like on U.S. soil — until now.

Buoyed by a cheap flight and a willing friend to greet me, I am headed to Los Angeles on Thursday to see Jovanotti play a free summer night concert at the Santa Monica Pier, presented by KCRW. I also get to interview him (in my mind, that is followed by about 30 exclamation points). I have no idea what to expect, I just know this makes me deeply, deeply happy.

I’ve loved watching his music develop from “Penso Positivo” rap songs (think positive! because we’re alive!) to a more rootsy, organic, socially-conscious body of work that collaborates with folks like Michael Franti (“Dal Basso,” among other songs) and Ben Harper, on this song from his 2008 release Safari:

Fango (with Ben Harper) – Jovanotti

(Io lo so che non sono solo, anche quando sono solo – I know that I’m not alone, even when I am alone)

Even if you don’t speak the language, anyone can find the mellifluous effect of “Fango” (“Mud”) soothing as it rushes over your ears — a phonetic maelstrom of earthy awesomeness.

There is something uniquely wonderful in the half-spoken, half-sung lyrics of Lorenzo, and the small observations he knits together. I can remember sitting at the small green kitchen table in my apartment near Santa Croce church with my host sister Elena, as she translated Jovanotti’s Italian lyrics from “Io Ti Cerchero” into English. I remember thinking how in my own language they might feel facile and rote, but in Italian they brought a hard lump into my throat and seemed, truly, like some of the most beautiful lyrics ever.

Call it the language of true poetry, the language of Dante, the actual sound of falling in love. Everything sounds like gospel in Italian. So you should read more about what this song means here. I appreciate the way that Jovanotti looks at mottled, cracked pieces of the world, and cements them together into something crazy and beautiful, flawed but absolutely worth admiring.

Last time I saw him in Bologna, he appeared on stage in orange pants, hoisted high above the crowd in a harness, flying back and forth while he sang the first song. His music has matured and deepened since then (he’s 43), and while he likely won’t have the flashy stage production on the pier, just him and his guitar will be enough to make me sing along.

jovanotti_safariHere are a few of his older songs as well. His newest album (2008) is called Safari, and is out on Mercury Records.

Give your ears something new:

L’ombelico del Mondo
Rome used to be called the “umbilicus mundi,” or bellybutton (center) of the world. This is Jovanotti’s pulsing African homage – when I saw him live in Bologna, a battalion of musicians wearing djembe drums around their waists ran out and Jovanotti played a huge tom with mallets.

Dal Basso (with Michael Franti)
Tutto nasce dal basso e poi va su – everything starts from the bottom and rises up. A social anthem with a coiled, dense bass line and shared verses between Jovanotti and Michael Franti (in English). The song talks about all the places that revolutionary ideas will not be found (the classroom, the pages of the newspaper, in our heroes) but instead in vibration, joy, and freedom.

Per La Vita Che Verra (“For The Life That Will Be”)
Lorenzo recorded portions of his 1997 album in South Africa, and this song is such a glorious melding of continents, I never get tired of it.

This last one is on my playlist tonight because it is thundering and pouring big fat summer raindrops in Colorado today, and this is a song about rain. The rhythm of his words actually feels like rivulets and torrents.

July 21 – The Viper Room, Los Angeles, CA
July 22 – Twilight Dance Series, Santa Monica Pier, CA
July 25 – Stern Grove Festival, San Francisco, CA
July 31 – SummerStage, New York City, NY

May 12, 2009

I look out of the window for the girl I knew yesterday


Knowing my interest in dabbling in all things related to Euro-pop and cover songs, one of my Spanish readers far across the Atlantic let me know that musician Antonio Vega Tallés died early this morning in Madrid.

Tallés wrote the 1980 pop song “Chica De Ayer” (featured on this comp of Spanish pop that looks pretty fun), and was also covered by Gigolo Aunts a decade later. Listen to both below -

Chica de Ayer – Nacha Pop

February 27, 2009

Feelin’ Extra Golden this morning


In 1995, Ian Eagleson was studying abroad in Kenya and first heard the sounds of benga guitar while attending a marriage celebration. As he writes in this fascinating Fretboard Journal article about the style of guitar-playing that can be heard in countless small Kenyan bars and across backroads, he was “struck by the sound that cut through the din.”

Eagleson returned to Africa many times while pursuing his (pretty rad-sounding) doctorate in ethnomusicology, and along the way formed Extra Golden, a fusion of members and sounds from his Washington D.C. rock band Golden and the Nairobi benga band Orchestra Extra Solar Africa. The joyously vibrant result sounds like this:

Anyango – Extra Golden

tyvq_bigTheir third album Thank You Very Quickly is available March 10th on Thrill Jockey.

And really, how good would this stuff feel live?


(all dates with Baaba Maal and Oliver Mtukudzi)
Mar 3 2009 Gateshead – The Sage Gateshead
Mar 4 2009 Liverpool Philharmonic – Liverpool
Mar 6 2009 Bridgewater Hall – Manchester
Mar 7 2009 Lighthouse – Poole
Mar 8 2009 Brighton Dome – Brighton
Mar 9 2009 Roundhouse – London
Mar 11 2009 Royal & Derngate- Northampton
Mar 12 2009 The Anvil – Basingstoke
Mar 13 2009 De Montfort Hal – Leicester
Mar 14 2009 Warwick Arts Centre -Coventry

Apr 9 2009 Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Apr 10 2009 Floristree – Baltimore, Maryland
Apr 11 2009 Le Poisson Rouge – Manhattan, New York
Apr 12 2009 Middle East Upstairs – Cambridge, Massachusetts
Apr 14 2009 Comet Pizza – Washington DC
Apr 15 2009 B-Sides at Messiah College – Grantham, PA
Apr 16 2009 Kenyon College -Gambier, Ohio
Apr 17 2009 Ladies Literary Club – Grand Rapids, Michigan
Apr 18 2009 WIUX Culture Shock – Bloomington, Indiana
Apr 19 2009 Cactus Club – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Apr 20 2009 Empty Bottle – Chicago, Illinois
Apr 22 2009 Waterfront Park – Louisville, Kentucky
Apr 23 2009 Northside Tavern -Cincinnati, Ohio
April 24 2009 Rumba Cafe Columbus, Ohio

BONUS: You may remember also hearing their thank-you song in their native Luo language to native-son Obama after he helped them secure the needed visas for a U.S. tour:

Obama – Extra Golden

[top photo credit Noel Kupersmith — and where is that Elvis print? I wanna see.]

February 11, 2009

Abigail Washburn’s Chinese-Appalachian-1930s blend

Last week, Colorado College (where I work) welcomed back to campus one of its own, Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet, featuring ten-time Grammy winner Bela Fleck on the banjo, Casey Driessen on the violin, and the marvelous Ben Sollee on cello.

Washburn has a lovely, lilting, strong voice, and her music is a fascinating blend of bluegrass Appalachian, woven with old threads of 1930s Americana and traditional songs, then globally spiced with Chinese melodies and Chinese language. Abigail and I are roughly the same age, so she was at the College long before I came to work there, but she studied abroad in Shanghai and majored in Asian Studies (both are part of my job now in International Programs).

I felt a certain kinship with the journey of discovery she talked about all throughout her concert, remembering the old woman who taught her a song in China, or what the sky looked like where she lived during her time abroad. It was amazing to see how far life has carried her since those days, but how the seeds of her diverse life experiences have germinated in brightly colored ways through her music.

She is a formidable presence live; each member of the Sparrow Quartet seems smiley-in-love with the music they are creating, appreciatively watching the others play, and holding the audience quite spellbound. Seeing as many rock shows as I do, I was amazed that I didn’t even miss the drums. The range of sounds that their instruments sang out captivated my attention completely.

I brought my little boy to the concert with me (he was my plus-1/2 instead of plus-one, we joked, since he’s only 5) and he sat transfixed. As we walked out through the snowy parking lot, he emphatically told me that he’d never ever heard music like that before, and said, “Mama… it made my brain tickle.”

Pretty excellent description right there.

A Fuller Wine – Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet

BUY: Abigail Washburn and the Sparrow Quartet (2008)

Side note: Ben Sollee also blew me away; I’m a fan of his thoughtful, cello-based solo album Learning To Bend, and after seeing him play with the Sparrow Quartet, I’m itching to go catch him solo with his own songs, and also hear what else he’s got cooking with Jim James (My Morning Jacket).

November 13, 2008

War/Dance: “In our daily lives there must be music”

It’s currently International Education Week in the U.S., which translates into busy times for me in my dayjob life. I don’t mind this kind of busy, because I am tasked with bringing global culture to our campus for a week of free activities. In a welcome intersection of music and film, my event Tuesday was a screening of the exceptional film War/Dance.

I sat in a darkened theater in the late afternoon and watched a group of school children from Northern Uganda prepare their music and impassioned dance for their National Music Competition. The children are displaced refugees of the Acholi tribe, which has been subject to a horrific persecution at the hands of the Lord’s Resistance Army for twenty years — abducted, forced into child soldierhood, raped, orphaned. This tribal war has left 200,000 Ugandan children without parents, seen 30,000 abducted to fight for the LRA, and forced almost all of the Acholi people to leave the green hills of their ancestral homes and relocate to dusty camps, guarded by military 24 hours a day.

But — when these children are swimming in the waves of their music, they are free. You can see it in the spark in their smiles, the unbridled earthy joy shining in their faces when they sing, when they stomp the dry earth and arch their backs. As one girl says in her sonorous native tongue, “In our daily lives there must be music. In everything we do, if there’s music, life becomes so good. That’s why I want to be part of music.”

Suffering of great magnitude is extremely difficult to wrap our Western minds around, and the filmmakers incisively narrow the lens to track three young teenagers and the stories of the dark path that brought them to the camp, to this school in the remotest part of Northern Uganda. The kids take seriously the opportunity to compete with the other 20,000 schools throughout Uganda to represent their tribe as one of the best. When they perform the 500-year-old Bwola dance of their tribe, they radiate pride and spirit as they stomp and whirl in shades of a Feist video (I must not be the only one who thought that).

The film is a deeply human exploration, one that made me question what it is within the human spirit that flares up, that remains unbreakable and irrepressible. One of the main characters Nancy explains, “When I’m singing, I feel that everything is exactly how it used to be. Everything feels okay again, like I’m at home and not in the camp.” Rose muses, “Music is the most important part of Acholi culture. It is our tradition. Even war cannot take it from us.

War/Dance is shot with the stunning eye of a photographer, with shots that make you ache in their purity, their power, and their sadness. The dance scenes are swirls of color and shifting focus. As they tell their unflinching stories, the skin of the children shines with an illuminated vibrancy that seems out of place in their dusty, hard surroundings.

Out of the gritty horrors of a story that could be the bleakest of bleak, hope and pride rise up in the kids. In music, they survive. It’s a message that resonated deeply with me, and indeed should with all who have ever felt the power of music in any capacity. I give this movie (and the corresponding music) my highest recommendation of the screen this year.

And hey, the percussion that punctuated all the pounding-heart moments of this film made the tiny little djembe player in my own heart leap a little:

Khine Sine – Doudou N’diaye Rose [wiki]

You can watch War/Dance online now if you have Netflix, and the soundtrack is on Amazon. For more information about how to support these kids in Northern Uganda, visit, a foundation set up by the filmmakers.

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August 16, 2008

Rocking in a dirty Beijing basement bar at 3am

With the eyes of everyone in the world on Beijing right now (except me, much to my mother’s horror), what with all the synchronized diving and underage gymnasts, this video from is very timely. I had no idea that China had a burgeoning punk scene — very cool. They say:

We hitched up with some cool kids who sounded like they knew what they were talking about and they dragged us all over the Beijing’s underground music scene, into dirty alleys and dirtier bars so we could get a taste. Even though we were thousands of miles away from NYC in a foreign land, some things really are just universal. Like partying in a basement at 3am and flinging beer all over the place and rocking your face off. We liked these three bands the most.”


Other band profiles in the series:

Brain Failure – Has China started the fabled 4th Wave of Ska?

Subs – Adding a Chinese entry to the international Subs mix

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May 15, 2008

Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump

The cool little Strut Records imprint will be releasing the new Grandmaster Flash album later this year, and in addition to a fine roster that already boasts things like Disco Italia: Essential Italo Disco Classics (so all over that!) and Funky Nassau, they have a new collection that I am absolutely loving.

Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump is a compilation of “original heavyweight afrobeat highlife and afro-funk” music that I’m finding to be just the cure for ears tired of the same old same old. Quick wiki-history lesson: Following the freedom of independence from the UK in 1960, and the bloody wars and ethnic clashes that the late ’60s brought to Nigeria, the ’70s were a time of relative oil-fueled prosperity, and a time where musical expression and experimentation could grow.

During this decade Nigerian musicians melded the outside influences of European and American big band, jazz, and rock that they heard crackling over their radios with their own traditional beats, instrumentation, language, and spirit. On this compilation, leading Afro archivist Duncan Brooker worked with Strut Records founder Quinton Scott to introduce a wider audience to the eclectic, funky, bold sounds of this era.

The previous 3-CD collection of Nigerian music that Strut Records put out in 2001 (Nigeria 70) is now out of print, and sells for close to $100. So, yeah. You might think about gettin’ while the gettin’s good. The opening track:

Yabis – Sir Shina Peters & His International Stars

PREORDER — Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump is out on May 27.

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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