Posts Tagged ‘music’
Mali has made headlines the last few days after a rebel group stormed the presidential palace on Thursday in a military coup.
With the country that has been a beacon of stability in West Africa plunging into chaos, it’s easy to forget the wealth of music that comes from Mali. While reading up on the latest news, we stumbled across this nice video of Malian music made by film maker and radio presenter Tim Tyson Short.
Interested in experiencing Mali’s music for yourself? Check out our Songlines Music Travel trip to Mali.
Whew! Excitingly, our next issue (#82 March 2012), the Music and Social Change special is off to press.
With a historic 2011 having just ended and a new year, which even in its infancy, is poised to be as powerful, the special issue felt timely.
Last year saw some of the most impressive popular uprisings the world has seen in decades. The so-called ’99%’ made their voices heard throughout the events of 2011, but more and more are catching on as we head deeper into the new year. Youssou N’Dour has garnered support in Senegal as a presidential candidate and most recently Seun Kuti has led protests in Nigeria, urging the government to help support its economically distraught public.
We have been eagerly following the latest news and are delighted to see what an incredible role music has been playing in these revolutions. This next issue, on sale February 3, is going to be a in-depth and up-to-date look into the relationship between music, musicians and social change.
That said, we expect to see music play a part in more uprisings and revolutions, so don’t forget to follow us here on the blog, on Facebook and on Twitter for the latest news as it happens.
Finally, let us know how you feel about music and politics by answering our poll here. Come on, don’t be shy!
Our Music and Social Change issue (#82, March 2012) is on sale February 3.
“I don’t get it,” said Nell, eyeing me with that expression of untraversable cultural distance which 16-year-old girls reserve only for their fathers. “You’re going to a festival of brass band music with seven total strangers. Like searching for Wallace and Gromit music. With all your goatee mates.” Clearly my attempts to fill the house with Gypsy brass music over the years had failed to provide evidence of the kind of wild sounds I was seeking out by travelling to Guca, deep in the overgrown forests and orchards of west Serbia. I’d been wanting to visit Guca for ages. But this year, its 50th year, was going to be something special and Songlines were planning a tour.
I’d encountered Balkan brass music years before, through the Rough Guide CDs. Its sticking power for me was its perfect tempo for keeping a steady pace on my local gym’s treadmill machines. I can’t tell if that sense of hurtling forward in the music is in its nature or because I heard so much of it while desperately trying – and failing – to keep my desk-job belly at bay.
I’d built up some fear myself of ‘the goatees’ but as it turned out, the group was far from it. A mixture of hardened gig-goers and part-timers like me. By far the most exotic were (as they were to be affectionately referred to throughout the week) “the Americans,” – a retired professor of music, his wife and son from North Carolina. They turned out to be the source of some of the best timed and most urbane jokes of the week.
After a great meal in Belgrade under the wing of tour guide Vlad, it was soon apparent that we were in for something amazing. Namely, Vlad. No quick sketch can do him justice. A man physically halfway between Borat and Bruno, his razor-sharp humour with a definite camp edge had us crying with laughter the whole week. On our first night I learnt a valuable tip from him: how to quickly get rid of those annoying flower sellers that sidle up to your restaurant table offering plastic-looking roses, and more often than not barge into the middle of a great conversation. They always manage to either make you look cheap and tacky for buying their roses – or unromantic and Neanderthal for refusing them. Vlad simply pointed to his female companion: “Allergic,” he said. The salesman slunk away. This was one of those staccato ripostes that cropped up many times during the week; to one hapless flower salesman, Vlad pointed round to a whole table of us. “Allergic,” he said.
Us honorary pollen intolerants had much to thank him for. Vlad was a man who managed to make things happen. The morning after an amazing gig by Boban Markovic with DJ Shantel from Germany, we spotted Boban sauntering through the town. “Boban! Bobay!” shrieked the crowd around him. Boban sauntered on, in his own bubble. “Songlines!” shouted Vlad. Boban turned on his heels and beamed. Seconds later, all of us are posing with the great man for a photo. A few hours before the Goran Bregovic concert to a crowd numbering tens of thousands, Vlad managed to shepherd us all backstage to natter with the legend about projects past and future.
The highlight of it all, though, was an evening when Vlad told me, in a low voice: “Stay here, in this café, trust me.” Looking out over the town I could see revellers partying in every direction. Shots of rakia being hawked in test tubes by leggy girls and necked by good-natured youngsters, bopping along to hundreds of vein-bursting brassmen. I could see flag-waving from a kid perched on top of the town statue. I’d promised to meet up with a lady photographer I’d met, and somewhere out there was beautiful Maryam, from the Persian section of the BBC. There was a lot tugging my centrifugal nature away from this rather boring café. “Please Joe, trust me. Sit here, at this table,” said Vlad. Moments later, I could see bouncers appear at the doors, keeping newcomers at bay. And then it happened. A Montenegrin millionaire’s party at the table four feet from ours was suddenly joined by the entire Markovic band with Marko leading a three-hour private set into the wee hours, his golden trumpet just an arm’s length from us. Our little Songlines tour group spent the night dancing on the tables – it had to be the most euphoric musical atmosphere I have ever been a part of.
I’m in the film business and my current project, Life in a Day, involves masses of material gathered by amateur filmmakers, so I was inspired to try my hand at documentary camerawork and capture something of the festival. I arrived at Guca tooled up with a little digital camera and a sound recording device. Like the Ancient Mariner, I now corner friends and show them my little shot of Marko Markovic, taken between the bouncing legs of the Serbian giant on the table in front of me, the sound emerging from a poxy, pinhole speaker. How can one capture this way the unbelievable noise of two Gypsy brass bands fighting to be the loudest in one tiny enclosed space? Or the vision of girls dancing on the table as their boyfriends slap spittle-wettened banknotes on horn-players’ foreheads to urge them to play on? If I’ve learnt anything significant from my experience in Guca this August, it was this: put the camera down. Don’t be at any remove from such experiences. Take part!
The opening of the state-of-the-art 2,000-capacity music venue Ocean in Hackney in east London in 2005 seemed like a dream moment. Placed as it was in the heart of London’s creative hotspot in the newly regenerating east end, it was sure to be a success.
Since then, mismanagement has left it semi-closed and now the people behind Tabernacle Live in Notting Hill have raised the money to bid to reopen Ocean to live music. A spokesman for Hackney Council said: “The Council is considering two options for the lease to occupy Ocean, one from a music promoter, the other from a cinema operator, and it is expected that Cabinet will make a decision in June.”
The final decision will be made in June, and a campaign has been launched to support the bid and save Ocean for live music. If you would like your voice to be heard, let the Hackney Borough council hear it.
Though the public has yet to be consulted, it will require the council to feel people want a music venue at Ocean for it to be saved. Make your first stop the campaign Facebook page…