September 22, 2020

Charts September 15-21, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 NAHAWA DOUMBIA | Kanawa | Awesome Tapes From Africa
2 BUDOS BAND, THE | Long In The Tooth [Advance Tracks] | Daptone
3 PETE RODRIGUEZ | I Like It Like That (A Mi Me Gusta Asi) | Fania/Craft/Concord
4 DZAMBO AGUSEVI ORCHESTRA | "Old Bazaar Groove (DJ Branski remix)" [Single] | Asphalt Tango
5 ALHOUSSEINI ANIVOLLA AND GIRUM MEZMUR | Afropentatonism | Piranha
6 SUPERFONICOS | "El Adios" [Single] | Public Hi-Fi
7 MESTIZO BEAT | Canoga Madness | California Soul
8 RAICES JAZZ ORCHESTRA | Raices Jazz Orchestra | Unity
9 MAFALDA MINNOZZI |  Sensorial: Portraits In Bossa & Jazz | Mama Producoes Artisticas
10 A GUIDE TO THE BIRDSONG OF MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA, AND THE CARIBBEAN | various artists | Shika Shika

September 19, 2020

Toots Hibbert, 1942-2020

Toots Hibbert, lead singer of the Jamaican vocal group Toots & The Maytals, passed away on September 11 from complications of COVID-19.

Jamaica is a country of 3 million people living on an island roughly the size of Delaware.  The musicians who have made their little country so internationally prominent are Jamaica's version of the Founding Fathers.  And if there was a Mount Rushmore of reggae, the second person chiseled onto it would be Toots Hibbert, with only Bob Marley preceding him.

So Toots' death is a major event, and I wanted to commemorate it this week (Monday September 21, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site) on Global A Go-Go.
 
I've gone to the vaults for a show I hosted on WRIR on May 16, 2013.  It was for the program Cause & Effect, which highlights the music of an individual artist or a genre or a time and place, putting it into context with the music of its influences, peers, those who were influenced, and so on.

On that day, I focused on Toots & The Maytals, who would be performing on Brown's Island here in Richmond two days later.  That turned out to be an ill-fated visit to say the least: someone in the audience hurled a liquor bottle at the stage and it hit Toots in the head.  The concert ended, Toots was rushed to MCV Hospital with a concussion, and he didn't perform in public for another three years.

So Richmond owes Toots big time.  The least we can do is give him a 2-hour tribute.  I hope you enjoy it.

September 14, 2020

Charts September 8-14, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 NAHAWA DOUMBIA | Kanawa | Awesome Tapes From Africa
2 TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS | Got To Be Tough | Trojan Jamaica
3 MODOU TOURE | Touki | ARC
4 PETE RODRIGUEZ | I Like It Like That (A Mi Me Gusta Asi) | Fania/Craft/Concord
5 ALHOUSSEINI ANIVOLLA AND GIRUM MEZMUR | Afropentatonism | Piranha
6 JUAN PINA CON LA REVELACION | Juan Pina Con La Revelacion | Vampisoul
7 JAAKKO LAITINEN AND VAARA RAHA | Borek | Playground
8 SUPERFONICOS | "El Adios" [Single] | Public Hi-Fi
9 TAMIKREST | Tamotait | Glitterbeat
10 MATEUS ALELUIA | Olorum | Selo Sesc

September 13, 2020

OK boomer, where's the beef?

Cumbia and hip hop are like peanut butter and chocolate: two great tastes that taste great together.  Each lends the other something that's lacking: hip hop gives cumbia some of the edge that's been rounded off by two centuries of popular use, and cumbia gives hip hop back some of the musicality that's been lost to economics or copyright law or just plain slackness.

Ana Tijoux has a great new cumbia rap song about COVID-19, police brutality and corruption in Chile; it will be on her forthcoming album Antifa Dance.  You'll hear it and a few more cumbia raps on this week's edition of Global A Go-Go.

Also this week (Monday September 14, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site): some melancholy Balkan music, salsa classics, more desert blues, the new album from Wassoulou songbird Nahawa Doumbia and rock 'n' roll gnawa style.

September 8, 2020

Charts September 1-7, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 VUSI MAHLASELA | Shebeen Queen | ATO
2 KEITH HUDSON | "Nuh Skin Up" [Single] | Greensleeves
3 MINYO CRUSADERS AND FRENTE CUMBIERO | From Tokyo To Bogota [EP] | Mais Um
4 ALHOUSSEINI ANIVOLLA AND GIRUM MEZMUR | Afropentatonism | Piranha
5 CHEZIDEK | "Inna Dem Eye" [Single] | Tad's
6 CHALO CORREIA | "Kudihohola" [Single] | Matasuna
7 TAMIKREST | Tamotait | Glitterbeat
8 MESTIZO BEAT | Canoga Madness | California Soul
9 A GUIDE TO THE BIRDSONG OF MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA, AND THE CARIBBEAN | various artists | Shika Shika
10 MULATU ASTATKE AND BLACK JESUS EXPERIENCE | To Know Without Knowing | Agogo

September 5, 2020

Shebeen queen

Vusi Mahlasela's grandmother Ida ran a shebeen (an illegal tavern or what Americans might call a speakeasy) in South Africa's Mamelodi township, outside of Pretoria.  She home-brewed beer and made a place for the township's residents to gather after another day's hard labor.

Ida's grandson went on to become an internationally successful musician, albeit one who still lives in Mamelodi.  As a tribute to the woman who "was and still is my greatest hero," Vusi threw a big party on the street where Ida's shebeen used to be and performed a night of the music he used to hear there.

That's the story behind Vusi's new live album Shebeen Queen.  You'll hear a track from it this week on Global A Go-Go, along with some of the township sounds of that era: mbaqanga and soul jive.

Also this week (Labor Day Monday September 7, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site): Jamaica's rockers-steppers sound, a healthy dose of Turkish psychedelia featuring the electric baglama saz, quick visits to three Lusophone countries, a set of Ethio-jazz and dance music therapy from Colombia.

September 1, 2020

Charts August 25-31, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 QWANQWA | Volume 3 | Wuzzawazzee Industries
2 FALLE NIOKE AND GHOST CULTURE | Youkounkoun [EP] | PRAH
3 LOS MOCOSOS | All Grown Up | Hip Spanic
4 ACID COCO | "El Amor De Mis Amores" [Single] | El Palmas
5 NOHE AND SUS SANTOS | Tempestad | Avokado Artists
6 COLAH COLAH AND PEACE DEVELOPMENT CREW | "Steady Meddi!" [Single] | Boomrush Productions
7 KABAKA PYRAMID | "Nice Up The Dance" [Single] | VP
8 SONE | "Overcome" [Single] | Sone Ministries
9 FORSHPIL | Tsvey | self-released
10 MATEUS ALELUIA | Olorum | Selo Sesc

August 29, 2020

Ethiopian tradition, 21st century improvisation

Violinist Kaethe Hostetter got interested in Ethiopian music when she became a founding member of Boston's Debo Band.  Then she took a deep dive into the subject -- she moved to Addis Ababa in 2009.

There she formed a new band, Qwanqwa ("Language" in Amharic) with a group of players who are virtuosi on traditional instruments like krar (harp), masenko (1-stringed fiddle) and kebero (hand drum) and also fluent in contemporary improvisational strategies.

Qwanqwa's third album, Volume 3, will be released on September 11 (New Year's Day in Ethiopia this year).  It's one of the most rewarding listens I've had this year, and I'll share three tracks with you on this week's Global A Go-Go.

Also this week (Monday August 31, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site): un poquito mas de la cumbia, folk-rock from both ends of Europe, African electronica, the rarely-sighted Afrobeat ballad, and some Latin soul to wrap things up.

August 25, 2020

Charts August 18-24, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 A GUIDE TO THE BIRDSONG OF MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA, AND THE CARIBBEAN | various artists | Shika Shika
2 EVA CORTES | Todas Las Voces | Blue Fern
3 SONGHOY BLUES | Optimisme [Advance Tracks] | Fat Possum
4 LA LOCURA DE MACHUCA 1975-1980 | various artists [Advance Tracks] | Analog Africa
5 CADENCE REVOLUTION: DISQUES DEBS INTERNATIONAL VOL. 2 | various artists | Strut
6 PETE RODRIGUEZ | I Like It Like That (A Mi Me Gusta Asi) | Fania/Craft/Concord
7 ALHOUSSEINI ANIVOLLA AND GIRUM MEZMUR | Afropentatonism | Piranha
8 JUAN PINA CON LA REVELACION | Juan Pina Con La Revelacion | Vampisoul
9 GROUPE RTD | The Dancing Devils Of Djibouti | Ostinato
10 KEITH HUDSON | "Nuh Skin Up" [Single] | Greensleeves

August 22, 2020

We're making history

There's a lot of music I listened to in 1978 that I'm no longer interested in.  And there are a few things that are as timely and compelling now as they were then.

Linton Kwesi Johnson's poems of the 70s and 80s written about England's National Front, the Brixton Uprising and the death of Blair Peach could just as easily have been about USA 2020's Unite The Right, the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd.  If you're personally or emotionally involved in the movement today, when you listen to Johnson perform his poems you'll think he was forecasting your present.

This week (Monday August 24, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site) Global A Go-Go presents a two-hour special on the poetry and music of Linton Kwesi Johnson, on the occasion of his 68th birthday and his recent award of the 2020 PEN Pinter Prize.

August 17, 2020

Charts August 11-17, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 KELEKETLA | Keleketla! | Ahead Of Our Time
2 MOONLIGHT BENJAMIN | Simido | Ma Case
3 MODOU TOURE | Touki | ARC
4 BUDOS BAND, THE | "Long In The Tooth" [Single] | Daptone
5 NATION BEAT | "Forro De Dois Amigos" [Single] | NBM
6 NOBLEZZA | "Coletera" [Single] | Codiscos
7 ACID COCO | "Yo Bailo Sola" [Single] | El Palmas
8 JAAKKO LAITINEN AND VAARA RAHA | Borek | Playground
9 GUY BUTTERY AND THE BANDURA EXPRESS MARIMBA ENSEMBLE | Guy Buttery & The Bandura Express Marimba Ensemble [EP] | self-released
10 SOCA GOLD 2020 | various artists [Advance Tracks] | VP

August 15, 2020

Crossroads can't hold me

She has released two albums since 2018 and she's already being compared to Angelique Kidjo, Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, the White Stripes, the Alabama Shakes and Rokia Traore.  Sounds like good company to be in.  Who is she?

The answer is Moonlight Benjamin, a Haitian singer-songwriter now based in Toulouse, France and working with a four-piece band led by guitarist Mattis Pascaud.  I'm a little late in getting to Benjamin's music, but I'm really into it now.  I'll play a set of her songs this week on Global A Go-Go; maybe that will get you into it as well.

Also this week (Monday August 17, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site): some American renditions of northeast Brazil's "music for maids and taxi drivers," Balkan sounds with an emphasis on the singers rather than the brass, a cumbia-tronica dance party, Afropop from Senegal, and music from the far edge of Afrobeat.

August 10, 2020

Charts Aug 4-10, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 SANTROFI | Alewa | Out Here
2 VOZ DI SANICOLAU | Fundo De MarĂª Palinha | Analog Africa
3 HABIBI FUNK 14: SOLIDARITY WITH BEIRUT | various artists | Habibi Funk
4 BUDOS BAND, THE | "Long In The Tooth" [Single] | Daptone
5 GROUPE RTD | The Dancing Devils Of Djibouti | Ostinato
6 NICO GOMEZ AND HIS AFRO-PERCUSSION INC | "Baila Chibiquiban" [Single] | Matasuna
7 KELEKETLA | Keleketla! | Ahead Of Our Time
8 PEDRO LIMA | Maguidala | Bongo Joe
9 SITI MUHARAM |  Siti Of Unguja | On The Corner
10 BANDE-GAMBOA | Horizonte: Revamping Rare Gems From Cabo Verde And Guine-Bissau |  Heavenly Sweetness

August 8, 2020

Uhuru special

It's an all-African edition of Global A Go-Go this week (Monday August 10, 3:00-5:00 PM on WRIR, for two weeks afterwards at wrir.org/listen, check your local listings for airing on other radio stations, and any old time at my podcast site).  In the first hour, I'll play female singers from Cabo Verde; sounds from the Horn of Africa featuring music of Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti; and two multicultural takes on Afrobeat.

The second hour will be entirely dedicated to modern highlife -- the amazing sounds of Ghana since 1970, based on Akan traditional music played on Western instruments and incorporating a full slate of outside influences from foxtrot, calypso and big band jazz to rock and funk.  You'll hear from seminal figures like Ebo Taylor and Alhaji K. Frimpong, new music by Santrofi (pictured above) who are revitalizing highlife for the current generation, and more.

August 4, 2020

Charts Jul 28 - Aug 3, 2020

WRIR's NACC World Top Ten
1 ANDRE ABUJAMRA | "Alma Nao Tem Cor - Multi 25" [Single] | Tratore
2 KELEKETLA | Keleketla! | Ahead Of Our Time
3 MINYO CRUSADERS AND FRENTE CUMBIERO | From Tokyo To Bogota [EP] | Mais Um
4 DZAMBO AGUSEVI ORCHESTRA | "Old Bazaar Groove (DJ Branski remix)" [Single] | Asphalt Tango
5 LA DAME BLANCHE | "Cogelo Con Calma" [Single] | Nacional
6 FRANCK BIYONG FEAT CRISTINA VIOLLE | Trouble [EP] | Hot Casa
7 K FRIMPONG AND SUPER COMPLEX SOUNDS | Ahyewa Special | Hot Casa
8 WU FEI AND ABIGAIL WASHBURN | Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn | Smithsonian Folkways
9 LINGO SEINI ET SON GROUPE | Musique Hauka | Sahel Sounds
10 AKSAK MABOUL | Figures | Crammed