Thursday, January 29, 2015

Box Set - Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection February 24, 2015

From a media release:
Smithsonian Folkways
Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection
February 24, 2015

Order the Lead Belly Box Set

Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, the first career-spanning box set dedicated to the American music icon, will be released on February 24, 2015. The 140-page, large-format book includes 5 CDs with 108 tracks (16 previously unreleased), accompanied by historic photos and extensive notes.

Listen to a Sneak Preview of Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection including the previously unreleased song “Been So Long (Bellevue Hospital Blues)” at the link.

NPR’s Ann Powers says, “This is a powerful time to hear Lead Belly's voice again.” Read more from NPR and listen to the previously unreleased song, “I’m So Glad, I Done Got Over.”

Jazz/Pop CD Release: Arthur Fowler - What's Keeping Me Going (Indie - February 14, 2014)

CD Release:
Arthur Fowler - What's Keeping Me Going
(Indie - February 14, 2014)

Order/Buy the CD

Milwaukee born/Tokyo resident Arthur Fowler describes himself and his sound as acid folk singer/songwriter but I think that's a little too narrow a definition. His upcoming release features a range of styles from straight up jazz to bluesy to pop to rootsy folk.

Arthur ended up in Tokyo via a stint in Spain and has played with jazz bands and other ensembles in Spain, all over the U.S. and of course in his now home of Tokyo.

His lyrics are self aware and reflective and he sings in a nimble tenor with a pleasing soft edge and a nice range into his high end. There's a nice rhythmic pulse that fuels the groove running through the songs on this collection and he's paid a lot of attention paid to the musicianship. His own chops are solid, with some lovely fluid guitar lines in the first and title track, What’s Keeping Me Going. You can hear global influences even beyond his own American/Japanese cross-cultural story, including Afro-Cuban drums and Latin guitars.

The songs are rhythmically more complex - and interesting - than you'd expect from folk, more melodic than you'd expect from pure jazz. Arthur regularly collaborates with acoustic folk and rock band AJA, with one of Tokyo’s foremost Irish fiddlers, multi-instrumentalist Jim Ediger, and bassist Alan Gleason. It results in some some interesting instrumentation. Please try faatures harmonica. He goes gypsy-jazz-ish on Room Full of Mirrors that features Jim Ediger on accordion.

Hu is a nice laid back jazz song in a moody mournful minor mode with Japanese guitarist Kei Takasugi on lead. The album as a whole is lit up by a superb sense of musicianship - these are creative, inventive next level musicians and that's a big part of the appeal of the album.

Twilight Breeze is a melodic jazz composition - free flowing and dynamic  an instrumental piece that showcases the guitar in an extended jazz riff. The New York Song has an -appropriately - cool east coast swing to it. Melodically the songs are also quite interesting; in Here I Am the swing goes a little Latin-ish. He goes from that to a harmonica infused bluesy rendition of the Neil Young song For The Turnstiles. Splash is a melodramatic country-blues tune that features Matthew Skoller on harmonica.

Guitars and Vocals:  Arthur Fowler
Electric Bass:  Kiyo Tahara
Acoustic Bass: Alan Gleason
Accordion and Fiddle:  Jim Ediger
Electric Guitar on “HU”: Kei Takasugi
Percussion arrangement and performance:  Kikuko Yasui
Harmonica:  Matthew Skoller
Backing Vocals on the songs “Love the Music”,

Recorded and mixed by Seiki Kitano (Bang On Recordings)
Mastered by Keiko Ueda at MTC Mastering, Tokyo

Track listing:
1. What’s Keeping Me Going  Arthur Fowler
2. Please Try  Arthur Fowler
3. Love the Music  Arthur Fowler
4. Room Full of Mirrors Jimi Hendrix
5. HU  Arthur Fowler
6. Twilight Breeze  Arthur Fowler
7. The New York Song    Arthur Fowler
8. Here I Am    Music by Jw Hammond, words by Arthur Fowler
9. For the Turnstiles      Neil Young
10. Splash  Arthur Fowler
11. On the Verge  Arthur Fowler


dérangé Concert Series 'All Folked Up': intersection of Opera, Jazz, Folk & Canadian Contemporary February 12 2015 in Toronto

From a media release:

Off Centre Music Salon presents their inaugural dérangé concert
February 12, 2015

curated by Nico Dann & Ilana Zarankin
featuring Shepherds Heard, Hobsons Choice, Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin with host Nate Renner

TORONTO (January 28, 2015) – Off Centre Music Salon celebrates its 20th Anniversary season by launching dérangé - a two-concert pilot project at the intersection of Canadian Contemporary, Classical, Jazz and Folk Music celebrating a more "out of line," interdisciplinary and creative approach to performing this repertoire. The first of these two concerts, ALL FOLKED UP, takes place on Thursday February 12, 2015 at 7 pm (with a pre-concert lobby reception beginning at 6:30pm) at Toronto’s The Music Gallery, 197 John Street.

What is folk music? It is music that appeals to the most basic human conditions: love and suffering, loss and happiness… In our northern hemisphere, it is often music that reflects the struggles that the natural world presents to the human being. But the term folk music itself is complicated – it has been adopted in such varied circumstances to designate such wildly different music. dérangé’s ALL FOLKED UP explores the exciting musical possibilities born in the moment of arrangement – or de-rrangement – of a wide variety of folk material.

Featured artists are Shepherds Heard - a cross-border, cross-genre ensemble of Classically and Jazz trained musicians that uses folk music as a point of departure, Hobson’s Choice - a contemporary chamber Jazz quartet blending the improvisation of jazz with an unconventional instrumentation and approach to songwriting and paying homage to such Canadian folk songwriters as Joni Mitchell and Bruce Cockburn, and husband-and-wife piano four hands duo (and Off Centre Music Salon Artistic Directors) Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin performing Dvorák’s folk-inspired Slavonic Dances.  Ethnomusicologist and guitarist Nate Renner is our host .

Shepherds Heard is: Joseph Brent (mandolin), Nico Dann (drums), Rebecca Hennessy (trumpet), Michael Herring (double bass) and Ilana Zarankin (soprano). Since April 2013, Shepherds Heard has been arranging and performing a hybrid of folk-inspired classical Art Song and improvised, old-time, country, folk and jazz-context music. While Jazz drummer Nico Dann found himself immersed in a musical scene concerned with bringing the acoustic, song-driven, folk roots of jazz back into the modern idiom, his wife soprano Ilana Zarankin was, herself, championing the repertoire of Classical composers, specifically those of the 19th Century, trying desperately to make peace with an ever-widening and changing world, paying homage to their folk traditions. Shepherds Heard was born of this fascination with the folk in music - what began as the idea to reimagine Joseph Canteloube’s colourful Chants d’Auvergne for a small folk ensemble has grown to include similar treatments of Valery Gavrilin’s Russian folk songs and a handful of Canadian folk melodies.

Hobson’s Choice is: Harley Card (guitar/voice), Michael Davidson (vibraphone), Rebecca Hennessy (trumpet/voice) and Felicity Williams (voice). Hobson’s Choice is a toronto-based, contemporary chamber jazz group that draws on a wide range of influences. Blending the improvisation in jazz with an unconventional instrumentation and approach to songwriting, it stands on its own.

Russian-Canadian pianist Inna Perkis was described by the Weekly Seattle as having “…a commanding musical personality… poetry to every nuance…” Ms. Perkis has performed internationally as a soloist and a chamber musician.” She is the Co-founder and Artistic Director of Off Centre Music Salon with her husband Boris Zarankin.

A pianist of international renown, Boris Zarankin was hailed by the Los Angeles Times as a “pianist of flair, style and exciting virtuosity”. Mr. Zarankin studied at the Kharkov State Conservatory with Regina Horowitz and at the Moscow State Conservatory.

Nate Renner is pursuing his PhD in Ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto. His research concerns the contemporary and traditional music and dance of Japan's indigenous Ainu people.

Food for the pre-concert reception is generously provided by Toronto’s Aviv Restaurant. (

Off Centre Music Salon presents their inaugural dérangé concert

curated by Nico Dann & Ilana Zarankin
featuring Shepherds Heard ensemble, Hobsons Choice, Inna Perkis and Boris Zarankin with host Nate Renner

Thursday February 12, 2015
The Music Gallery, 197 John Street, Toronto, M5T 1X6
7 PM concert (6:30 PM pre-concert reception, catered by Aviv Restaurant)
Regular Tickets: $25 (includes one pre-concert refreshment); Students/Seniors/Arts Workers: $15

Single Release: Liz Graham - Charcoal on a Canvas (Indie - Jan 9, 2015)

Single Release:
Liz Graham - Charcoal on a Canvas
(Indie - Jan 9, 2015)

Buy the single (name your price)

Liz Graham sold over 100,000 copies of her first album - called simply, Liz Graham - back in 1998. Despite charting on CMJ, Top 10 Women’s radio and Top 10 Music in the UK and Japan, touring with Lilith Fair and receiving a big label offer, life took a different turn in 2000 when a family member became ill.

She never stopped writing though and performed at small venues. Liz co-wrote and sang the techno song, “Daylight”, in the 2013 Dreamworks thriller, The Fifth Estate. Now she's back with a new album in the works (scheduled for release later this year) and a new single - Charcoal on Canvas.

I said “we’re not art yet,
I just don’t know what we are right now”

I say - you say is the back and forth motion that carries the sense of the song.

Don't you want to be in my gallery?
Don't you want you want somebody who can capture you on canvas..?
Charcoal on canvas

As someone who makes a nice chunk of my living from modeling for artists, naturally, a song about persuading someone to pose for you (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) is dear to my heart. The tune falls neatly into the adult contemporary pop genre with a nice pop-style swing to it and an upbeat tempo.

Liz' vocals are strong with a nice hard edge to the top end that she can use to good effect to contrast the little girl quality of the low end.

As she says herself about the song,

"Charcoal On A Canvas" is a song about wanting to get to know a person on a deeper level. I want to start by sketching him on my canvas because I am intrigued by his shadows (the things that he hides) and what his truths may be. As I continue to pursue him, he questions everything that I say and resists my advances. Perhaps he doesn't want me to really know him....?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

TD Discovery Series Spotlights Toronto Jazz Musicians - March 25 to April 30 2015

From a media release:

The TD Discovery Series Presents Live Music and Educational Performances Year-Round

Upcoming Dates:
Wednesday, March 25, 2015 – Alexander Brown CD release, Lula Lounge
Thursday, March 26, 2015 – Robi Botos CD release, Jazz Bistro
Saturday, April 25, 2015 – Tom Richards’ Riverrun 12-Hour Music Marathon, Beit Zatoun
Thursday, April 30, 2015 – Alex Goodman CD release, Jazz Bistro

Bringing fresh jazz to the forefront of the city’s music scene, the new TD Discovery Series will present year-round live music and educational performances featuring some of the best talent in the Toronto scene. Designed by Toronto Downtown Jazz, producers of the TD Toronto Jazz Festival, with the generous support of TD Bank Group, this new initiative encourages the creation, development, and presentation of unique, new programming by local jazz musicians.

“With the TD Discovery Series, we are excited to foster the development and growth of jazz in Toronto: emerging artists, perhaps unknown to a wider audience, who represent the next generation of outstanding jazz; established artists working on a new or special project; and the students – and their teachers – who will take jazz into the future as musicians, audience members and supporters,” states Artistic Director Josh Grossman.

The TD Discovery Series will include a showcase on Emerging Artists, highlighting upcoming and promising jazz musicians in Toronto. Featuring up close and personal interviews with the artists, these performances will introduce the latest local talents on the jazz scene.

Educational Programs, mainstays of the Toronto Downtown Jazz Society, aim to develop the art of jazz within the community while celebrating and nurturing Toronto’s next generation of jazz musicians and jazz supporters. These sessions, geared toward jazz students, fans and teachers alike, both promote the growth of new pathways in jazz music and solidify the tradition of mentorship in the jazz community.

The Special Projects Initiative provides marketing and public relations support, and awards a bursary to artists who bring original programming to the stage. Determined through a juried process, this year four outstanding recipients have been selected to participate: critically acclaimed pianist Robi Botos; Tom Richards’ Riverrun, who will perform a 12-hour music marathon; Juno nominated guitarist Alex Goodman; and Cuban trumpeter Alexander Brown.

"We're pleased to be supporting some of the outstanding jazz musicians who call Toronto home”, states Grossman. “Promoting an event is a big job and can be time-consuming for an independent musician - especially when preparing for a big show. With the TD Discovery Series Special Projects we're excited to help promote the events, and hopefully we're providing each musician with more time to prepare the music for his project."

All submissions for the Special Projects were reviewed by a panel of judges that included saxophonist, flutist and clarinetist Colleen Allen; Tracy Jenkins, Co-Artistic Director of Lula Music and Arts Centre; bassist, arranger, composer, producer and label owner Peter Cardinali; and musician, producer, artistic director, composer and radio personality, Andrew Craig.

All performances for the TD Discovery Series will be recorded for an engaging online audio-visual experience through and other social media platforms allowing music-lovers to appreciate Toronto’s jazz artists through new and exciting media.

Soundstreams presents the Canadian premiere of THE WHISPER OPERA by David Lang February 26–March 1 2015 in Toronto

From a media release:

Canadian premiere: The Whisper Opera straight from NYC and Chicago
Soundstreams presents the Canadian premiere of
Words and music by David Lang
February 26–March 1, 2015
The Theatre Centre

The Pulitzer Prize-winning composer explores the tension between our private and online selves in an opera so intimate it can be experienced by just 52 people at a time.

Toronto – Soundstreams continues its 2014/2015 season with the Canadian premiere of American composer David Lang’s The Whisper Opera at Toronto’s newest live arts hub, The Theatre Centre, from February 26 to March 1. Straight from acclaimed performances in Chicago and New York, this extraordinary, contemplative, and haunting work will have a limited run of just six performances, and also marks the Canadian debuts of soprano Tony Arnold and New York’s International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).

Inspired by the question “What if a piece were so quiet and intimate and so personal to the performers that you needed to be right next to them or you would hear almost nothing?” The Whisper Opera is David Lang’s response to the immediate accessibility of all music online. In fact, he specifies in his score that the work can never be recorded, filmed, or amplified: “The only way this piece can be received is if you are there, listening very very closely.” Using a libretto compiled from search-engine responses to such prompts as, “When I think of you, I think of…” and “When I am alone, I always…,” Lang and his performers explore the tension between our private and online selves, encouraging the audience’s 52 members to bask in a soundscape of whispering, murmuring, humming, and movement.

Passionate, prolific, and complicated, David Lang is committed to music that resists categorization, constantly creating new forms. With his winning of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for the little match girl passion, The New Yorker stated that the post minimalist enfant terrible had “solidified his standing as an American master.” Lang is currently Carnegie Hall’s Chair in Composition, Professor of Composition at the Yale School of Music, and is co-artistic director and co-founder of New York’s legendary music festival, Bang on a Can.

Reprising their success at Lincoln Centre and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, soprano Tony Arnold and New York’s International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) make their Canadian debuts. The Chicago Tribune writes, “Anything sung by soprano Tony Arnold is worth hearing,” while The New York Times hails ICE as “one of the most adventurous and accomplished groups in new music.”

Related Events

ICE will follow their second performance of The Whisper Opera on February 28 with an intimate concert of chamber music at The Theatre Centre exploring the expressive breadth of contemporary music, from the 1960s to the present day. The concert will include a work by Canadian composer Sabrina Schroeder. Check it out here

Soundstreams’ free Salon 21 at the Gardiner Museum on February 20 at 7:00 pm features an exploration of how we hear and the tricks our ears play on us when listening to music.

The Whisper Opera
Words and music by David Lang
Soundstreams presents an International Contemporary Ensemble production

February 26-March 1, 2015
Thurs Feb 26 at 8pm, Fri Feb 27 at 7pm & 10pm, Sat Feb 28 at 2pm & 7pm, chamber concert at 9pm, Sun Mar 1 at 2pm

The Theatre Centre, 1115 Queen Street West

Jim Findlay, director and designer
Karen Young, costume design
Kelly Moran, stage manager

Tony Arnold, soprano
International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE):
Claire Chase, flutes
Joshua Rubin, clarinets
Kivie Cahn-Lipman, cello
Ross Karre, percussion

Post-show chats will be held after each performance.

• Tickets to The Whisper Opera are $67.50 and are available through The Royal Conservatory Box Office at 416-408-0208 or online at
• Tickets for the chamber concert on February 28 at 9pm are $18 in advance online, and $15 at the door for ages 30 and under or for those with a ticket to The Whisper Opera. General admission. Buy tickets online at or at the door.

From Nacional Records:Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Release of 'Ska Me Forever' (February 10, 2015)

From a media release:

From Nacional Records:
Iconic Band Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Highly-Anticipated Release of 'Ska Me Forever' (February 10, 2015)

Pre-order/Buy it here

Renowned Worldwide for Explosive Live Performances, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra’s International Following Continues to Grow Through Extensive Global Touring

After decades of performing sold-out shows in Japan and in over 26 countries, legendary band Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra celebrates their 25th anniversary with the U.S. release of their new album, ‘Ska Me Forever” on vinyl and digital download on February 10th, 2015 with online pre-sale for the album going on now.

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra’s 19th album boasts a dynamic blend of rock, jazz, ska and punk, and features the lead single “Wake Up!” with Asian Kung-Fu Generation. Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra also puts their playful and diverse spin on fan-favorite covers of Café Tacvba’s 'Eres,' Beethoven’s 'Symphony No. 9,' and the classic Mexican folksong, 'Cielito Lindo.’ Their new release 'Ska Me Forever’ marks a significant milestone for the ever-evolving band who continue to delight and surprise audiences with their music and exciting live shows.

Starting out in the late '80s as a ska revival group playing the streets and clubs of their hometown, the sharply suited Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra quickly became the flag-bearers for the Japanese ska scene. This movement gained popularity in the 1990s and included the arguably more "authentic" ska sounds of the Ska Flames (signed to Gaz Mayall's label in the U.K.) and the Determinations from Osaka. Like those two acts, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra's sound is largely instrumental, with powerful, punchy arrangements that re-create the jump-up energy of Jamaican ska originals such as the Skatalites. It's a sound as vibrant as any modern-day ska -- anywhere.

From their beginnings in the late 1980s club scene in Japan, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra rose to fame in their native country and have taken their acclaimed live show worldwide, performing to festival audiences in Europe, the United States and Latin America, including the Warped Tour, Glastonbury, Supersonico, Coachella and Vive Latino.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Opera, Theatre, Dance & More - Spoleto Festival USA Announces 2015 Season

From a media release:

The 39th Season of America’s Premier Performing Arts Festival
is Scheduled for May 22 – June 7 in Charleston, South Carolina
2015 Festival Includes Three World Premieres and Three US Premieres

Check out the line-up here

CHARLESTON, SC - Festival General Director Nigel Redden has announced the program for the 39th annual Spoleto Festival USA, taking place May 22 through June 7, 2015. Held in Charleston, South Carolina, the Festival includes the world premiere of the opera Paradise Interrupted composed by Huang Ruo and designed and directed by visual artist Jennifer Wen Ma, the American premiere and first performances in over 350 years of Francesco Cavalli’s baroque opera Veremonda, l’amazzone di Aragona, and the first US performances of a new production of Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare’s Globe directed by the company’s Artistic Director Dominic Dromgoole and Tim Hoare.

• Tickets are available January 20 at or by calling 843.579.3100. A two-week donor pre-sale begins January 6.

Featuring artists from nine countries and across the United States in over 150 performances, the Festival will also present new works by choreographers Shen Wei and Pontus Lidberg and composer Mark Applebaum. New in 2015, the American Express Woolfe Street Series held in the Woolfe Street Playhouse will include the world premiere of What Moves You, an artistic collaboration between The Wall Street Journal Magazine’s 2014 Performing Arts Innovator of the Year dancer Lil Buck and cellist Ashley Bathgate.

Other highlights of the 2015 Festival include Scottish Ballet’s acclaimed production of Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire, performances of influential works by the Trisha Brown Dance Company and Shen Wei Dance Arts, family-friendly productions by Italy’s Carlos Colla Marionette Company and Vietnam’s Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre, and Spoleto Festival USA debuts by Australia’s Casus Circus with its acrobatic show Knee Deep and Canada’s 2b theatre company with the award-winning play When It Rains.

Music highlights include Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell in concert, an outdoor concert in the College of Charleston Cistern Yard by jazz singer Dianne Reeves, and the North American debut of Argentine pianist Carlos Aguirre. The Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra will perform a concert of works by Sibelius, Barber, and Tan Dun and will also perform film scores on stage for screenings of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights and Bill Morrison’s Decasia. Seven-piece soul band St. Paul & The Broken Bones will headline the Wells Fargo Festival Finale at Middleton Place on June 7. 

The 17-day Festival showcasing nationally and internationally acclaimed artists in a celebration of opera, theater, dance, physical theater, and music will be opened at noon on Friday, May 22 with a ceremony at City Hall. The sixth annual Opening Night Fête featuring supper, live music, and dancing will be held at Cannon Green on Spring Street at 8:30pm.

For contributors of $100 or more, Spoleto Festival USA is offering a two-week donor pre-sale beginning January 6, providing exclusive access to tickets and premium seating for the 2015 season. Information on the donor pre-sale can be found at

On-site box office operations will again be located at the Charleston Visitor Center at 375 Meeting Street beginning Monday, March 16.

Canadian Stage announces Molly Parker to star in Harper Regan directed by Matthew Jocelyn March 1 - 22, 2015

From a media release:

Canadian Stage announces
Molly Parker to star in Harper Regan
directed by Matthew Jocelyn
March 1 - 22, 2015

Get Tickets

Toronto, ON –
Canadian Stage today announced that film and television star Molly Parker (Deadwood; House of Cards) will take to the stage for the Canadian premiere of Harper Regan at the Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front St. E.) from Mar. 1 to 22. Parker will play the title role, with direction by Canadian Stage artistic & general director Matthew Jocelyn whose most recent production THIS (2013) was called, “one of the best plays of this or any other season” by NOW Magazine. Internationally renowned for portraying unconventional characters in both film and acclaimed television programs, this will be Parker’s first live theatre role in 18 years.

Harper Regan is written by English playwright Simon Stephens, known for his Olivier Award-winning adaptation of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and the gritty dramas, Punk Rock and Port. While Stephens’ plays are performed internationally, the production at Canadian Stage will mark the first performance of his work on a main stage in Canada.

Harper Regan follows a woman’s struggle to balance the difficulties of her personal and family life. One autumn evening, after learning of her father’s illness, Harper Regan (Parker) walks away from her job, her home, her husband, her daughter, and doesn’t look back. Harper tells no one where she’s going or whether she’s coming back, putting everything she’s ever worked for at risk. Her journey explores the relationship between death and sexuality, the meaning of loyalty and the bonds of family.

Additional casting for Harper Regan will be announced soon. Tickets from $30 to $99 are available online, by phone at 416.368.3110 or in person at the box office. For additional details visit

Twitter: @CanadianStage; #csHarperRegan

Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate On Tour in the US & Canada - Tour Begins January 29, 2015

From a media release:

Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate
On Tour in the US & Canada - Tour Begins January 29, 2015

Preview tracks & Buy the CD

• For updates, visit

Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate return to North America on the heels of a triumphant debut in 2014. After the release of their acclaimed album Faya by Cumbancha Discovery and a successful tour in the summer of 2014, Driscoll and Kouyate, backed by bassist John Railton and drummer James Breen, bring their electrifying collaboration to venues across the US and Canada starting January 29th.

The well-worn and often overblown expression "music is a common language" has never been more apropos in the case of Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate. Driscoll contributes the rapping, looping, beatboxing and songwriting talents he developed growing up in Syracuse, New York and during his own successful recording career. Kouyate, already a phenomenon in African music circles, has blown minds and ears with his hypersonic electrified riffs on the kora, bringing the exalted West African harp into the 21st Century with use of distortion peddles, effects and previously-unimagined technical prowess.

"A gloriously accessible collision of styles. It's an unlikely collaboration that works, magnificently.” - The Guardian

Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate

29     Boston, MA     Johnny D's
30     Burlington, VT     Arts Riot

01     New York, NY     Joe's Pub
05     Montreal, QC     Le Ballatou
06     Ithaca, NY     The Haunt
07     Syracuse, NY     The Lost Horizon
08     Toronto, ON     Lula Lounge
12     Dayton, OH     University of Dayton
13     Bowling Green, OH     Grounds for Thought
14     Cedar Rapids, IA     Legion Arts
15     Minneapolis, MN The Cedar Cultural Center
16     Chicago, IL     Mayne Stage

23 - 27 Lafayette, LA     Festival International
28     Brooklyn, NY     BRIC House Stoop Series

17     Joshua Tree, CA Joshua Tree Music Festival
31     Redway, CA     Summer Arts and Music Festival

New from Smithsonian Folkways: New Orleans Brass Bands: Through the Streets of the City (out January 27 2015)

From a media release:

New from Smithsonian Folkways: New Orleans Brass Bands: Through the Streets of the City (out January 27 2015)

Get an early listen

For more than a century, the signature sound of New Orleans has been the brass band — at once a source of celebration, collective expression, and community pride. On January 27th, Smithsonian Folkways will release the newly-recorded collection New Orleans Brass Bands: Through the Streets of the City, bringing together for the first time in one recording three musical generations that represent three dominant styles of brass bands. Featured are the classic sound of the Liberty Brass Band, the modern-yet-traditional Treme Brass Band, and the funk, rap, and “bounce” influenced Hot 8 Brass Band.

With the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaching in 2015, album producer and Liberty Band leader Dr. Michael White believes that the renewed interest in brass band music is due in part to a wider audience appreciating and preserving the history and culture of the region after the natural disaster. Though many musicians lost their lives, instruments, and personal archives in the storm, this album is a testament to the sheer will of these groups to continue despite hardship.

The oldest group on Through the Streets of the City is the Liberty Brass Band, formed in 1985. The six songs they contribute, including the 1911 jazz march “Panama” and one of the best-known traditional jazz songs, “Paul Barbarin’s Second Line,” keep alive the spirit of the early brass bands.

Named after what Dr. White considers one of the oldest traditionally African American neighborhoods in America, Treme Brass Band, founded in 1991, bridges the old and new, ripping though parade favorites like the infectious “Give Me My Money Back,” among others.

For the past 15 years, Hot 8 Brass Band has been one of the most popular and visible funk-style brass bands in New Orleans. Like most of the younger bands, Hot 8’s style blends influences from the Dirty Dozen and Rebirth, with elements from contemporary rhythm & blues, rap, and its local variation, “bounce.” Merging out of two former Fortier High School Groups, the members of Hot 8 grew up together and maintain strong, family-like ties.

While Hot 8 has seen both local and international success and acclaim, they have also experienced serious tragedy. Four original members of the group lost their lives due to street violence and illness, and the band was displaced and scattered across the country during Hurricane Katrina. Upon returning to the city, the band regrouped and continues to maintain a heavy touring schedule, as well as a regular residency in New Orleans.

Hot 8 Brass Band prove why, since forming 15 years ago, they’ve remained arguably the most popular funk-style brass band, with original numbers like hometown ode “New Orleans (After the City)” and the aptly titled “Keepin’ It Funky.”

This recording is the seventh release in the Smithsonian Folkways African American Legacy Series, co-presented with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Recently Released: Dave Plaehn - Radio Sister (Independent - December 8, 2014)

Recently Released:
Dave Plaehn - Radio Sister
(Independent - December 8, 2014)

Buy the album

Radio Sister is a recent release by veteran musician Dave Plaehn. Dave has been a working musician since the 1970's, eventually ending up in Oregon where he now makes his home. Dave has released three albums as a solo artist since 2008 and plays acoustic blues with slide guitarist, Jeff Hino, as a duo. He's played in a number of blues, rock and reggae bands and all of those stylistic influences show up on this release, his follow up to 2013's critically acclaimed Amos Got Soul.

The album begins with the laidback reggae vibe of I Want Love, a song lit up by a strident sax line. Dave's vocals are languid and sexy on this track - just what's  needed along with great backing vocals that nicely contrast his voice. The tracks continue in a jazzy thread with Nothing's Got A Hold On You.

He pays attention to the hooks and has been at the game long enough to make his music harmonically and rhythmically interesting. Dave's lyrics are observations of life and love with a hook at the chorus - the usual territory of songwriters.

The title track Radio Sister adds a folky element, very melody oriented - his voice here nimbly climbs up and down to a sweet falsetto. The songs enter into standard radio rock territory on tracks like Is Anybody Listening? and Coming To You. On Hello, Melinda and Give me Lovin he returns to tropically infused rhythms to talk about love. Better Things To Do has a bit of a retro rock feel with a straight ahead edge reminiscent of the early 1970's while Soda Fountain reaches back again to an energetic punk/pop core. Love And Truth slows down with a churchy organ to back up his soulful vocals.

He goes back to his own to blues roots with the Leadbelly Medley, where his voice gains a kind of gravity I would have liked to hear on other tracks. Stranger Blues finishes the collection with his original take on the old school 12-bar blues idiom - complete with a howling harmonica line. (BTW - In 1997 Dave was endorsed as a harmonica player by Hohner, Inc.)

He's an accomplished musician and songwriter whose influences range from blues/roots to reggae and calypso, taking a detour into radio-friendly adult contemporary rock territory. There's enough variety to keep it interesting and enough catchy hooks that'll stick in your head.


All songs except “Leadbelly Medley” were written by Dave Plaehn © 2014 Plaehn Music, BMI
Leadbelly Medley: Looky, Looky, Yonder (Huddie Ledbetter, John A. Lomax, Alan Lomax) / Linin Track (Huddie Ledbetter) / Black Betty (Huddie Ledbetter). All three published by Folkways Music Publishers, Inc