June 22, 2024

Hard-to-pronounce Turkish banjos

 
It's a very special edition of Global A Go-Go this week because I'm doing something I haven't done on my show since 2017: I'm hosting a live band in WRIR's Studio C.  The band in question is Zarove from right here in Richmond.  It's the new project of Pippin Barnett and Gary Kalar who have been playing together for years, and they've invited Steve Williams into the mix to make it a trio.
 
Pippin Barnett is the legendary Richmond drummer who's a founding member of Idio Savant, The Orthotonics, Famous Actors From Out Of Town, The Ululating Mummies, Boom, Ruckus Watusi, The Richmond Indigenous Gourd Orchestra and Happy Lucky Combo (I'm sure I'm forgetting something), and has toured the world playing in the bands Curlew, Nimal and No Safety with stars of the avant-garde like Fred Frith, Tom Cora, George Cartwright, Zeena Parkins, Wayne Horvitz and Amy Denio.

Gary Kalar is a Minneapolitan and Chicagoan who lives for several months a year in Bulgaria, which has made his playing more deeply enmeshed than ever in the sounds of the former Ottoman Empire and the Balkans.  He's a guitarist by trade and is fluent on a wide number of what he refers to as "hard-to-pronounce Turkish banjos."  Gary's Chicago bands Lamajamal and Mucca Pazza recorded and toured widely, and here in Richmond he's currently a member of the bolero supergroup Miramar and plays with composer/keyboardist Curt Sydnor.  And Steve Williams is best known to Richmond music fans as the guitarist in the Ululating Mummies; in Zarove he shifts over to bass guitar.
 
Zarove's first public performance was at Plan 9 Music a couple of weeks ago; I was there and was dazzled.  They play long, deeply psychedelic jams based on Turkish, Balkan and Middle Eastern motifs, with Gary's electrified banjos snaking their way in and around Pippin's complex driving rhythms while Steve propels the whole thing forward and ties the low end down, at least to the extent that you can tie down an 11/4 meter.  I can assure you that you haven't heard anything quite like Zarove.

Their first venue gig will be on June 29 at Reveler, and you'll get a full length preview of what they'll be doing on stage if you tune in to Global A Go-Go this week (Sunday June 23, 1:00-3:00 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).

June 18, 2024

Charts June 10-16, 2024

WRIR World's NACC Top Ten
1 ANGELICA GARCIA | Gemelo | Partisan
2 ZAWOSE QUEENS, THE | Maisha | Real World
3 LOS GAITEROS DE SAN JACINTO | Orgullo Colombiano | OM Producciones/Bad Vibes Good Friends
4 JACOB F. DESVARIEUX AND GEORGES DECIMUS (KASSAV') | Yelele | Heavenly Sweetness
5 SEXTETO FANTASIA | Estamos En Algo | El Palmas
6 SUPERFONICOS | "La Semilla" [Single] | Spaceflight
7 LA LOM | "Danza De LA LOM" [Single] | Verve
8 FRANCK BIYONG | Radio Masoda | Tangential
9 ROLANDO BRUNO Y EL GRUPO AREVALO | Cosas Raras | Peace & Rhythm/Electric Cowbell/DJ Cajon
10 MERIDIAN BROTHERS | Mi Latinoamerica Sufre | Ansonia/Bongo Joe

June 14, 2024

Wagogo a go-go

Leah and Pendo Zawose have been making Wagogo music in Tanzania all their lives.  But always in the background -- women's jobs in Wagogo music has always been drumming and harmony singing, not songwriting or lead singing or playing the crucial tuned instruments illimba (thumb piano), chizeze (spike fiddle) and marimba (same as in English).
 
With the release of Maisha by the Zawose Queens, Wagogo women are finally out in front of the band.  Leah and Pendo's eleven original songs, backed by traditional instruments and unusually sensitive electronics and production from Englishmen Tom Excell and Oli Barton-Wood, are going to turn a lot of people on to a sound they've never heard before.  You'll hear three of them this week on Global A Go-Go.

Also this week (Sunday June 16, 1:00-3:00 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): Classic zouk béton from the French Antilles in the 80s; LA LOM takes on Peruvian chicha; the original sound of cumbia from Colombia's Los Gaiteros De San Jacinto, who will be performing in Richmond on July 19; the latest from Austin's Superfónicos; and two sets of Colombian champeta featuring a new track from Meridian Brothers and some unlikely covers.

June 11, 2024

Charts June 3-9, 2024

WRIR World's NACC Top Ten
1 KUMBIA BORUKA | Santa Suerte | self-released
2 MDOU MOCTAR | Funeral For Justice | Matador
3 FRANCK BIYONG | Radio Masoda | Tangential
4 KIKI VALERA | Vacilon Santiaguero | Circle 9
5 BASSEKOU KOUYATE AND AMY SACKO | Djudjon: L'Oiseau De Garana | One World
6 LOS DAYS | Dusty Dreams | Too Good
7 MIGHTY JOSHUA | Dreaducation | self-released
8 IBIBIO SOUND MACHINE | Pull The Rope | Merge
9 DELROY WILSON | The Cool Operator | Gorgon
10 MERCI YAYA BONGO: LES GROUPES D'ANIMATION FEMININS DU GABON, 1982-1989 | VARIOUS ARTISTS | Secousse

June 7, 2024

To be enjoyed without moderation

How is it possible that one of the best cumbia bands in the world is based in Lyon, France?  Well, that's where Hernán Cortés landed after touring the world with Monterrey, Mexico's el rebelde del acordeón Celso Piña and his band Su Ronda Bogotá.
 
Cortés' ensemble Kumbia Boruka is a well-oiled 8-person party machine with over 400 gigs under their belt.  As their booking agent says, Kumbia Boruka is "to be enjoyed without moderation!"  The band's latest album Santa Suerte is their best calling card to date -- I'll feature it this week on Global A Go-Go.

Also this week (Sunday June 9, 1:00-3:00 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): Richmond reggae by Mighty Joshua with guest James "Plunky" Branch, Kiki Valera's son cubano, Malian standard-bearers Bassekou Kouyaté & Amy Sacko, Franck Biyong brings the pan-African dance party, and les groupes d'animation feminins du Gabon.

June 5, 2024

Charts May 27 - Jun 2, 2024

WRIR World's NACC Top Ten
1 ROLANDO BRUNO Y EL GRUPO AREVALO | Cosas Raras | Peace & Rhythm/Electric Cowbell/DJ Cajon
2 DIZZY MANDJEKU AND ODEMBA OK ALLSTARS | Odemba Nostalgie [EP] | Zephyrus
3 FANIA ALL-STARS | Latin-Soul-Rock | Fania/Craft
4 BOBBY VALENTIN | Young Man With A Horn | Fania/Craft
5 NORTEC: BOSTICH Y FUSSIBLE | "TSM 2024" [Single] | Nacional
6 OKWY OSADEBE AND HIGHLIFE SOUNDMAKERS INTERNATIONAL | Ifunanya | Odogwu/Palenque
7 MASTER PLUS | Va En Serio | Nacional
8 LES BELGICAINS: NA TANGO YA COVADIA 1964-1970 | various artists | Covadia
9 EMEL | MRA | Little Human
10 RAIL BAND | Rail Band | Mississippi