Loving the Music - the Sound of March: 15th - 21st March 2020
South African Music, Chilean Afrobeat and some beats from the Balkan's were just some of the gems we unearthed this week.
This series of blog articles cover a week of mini-feature posts from the Loving the Music Facebook page and group. This makes it easier for our music-loving community to search through our ever-growing archive of songs, backstories and trivia.
March 15th - 21st: Musicians Featured
Ami Faku - THESIS ZA - Ayanda Jiya - Newan Afrobeat - The Guess Who - Balkan Beat Box
Tony Allen & Hugh Masekela -
15 March: I’m sticking to local South African talent to end the week, with three artists who are busy making musical waves. These ladies are the new breed of future superstars. Let’s start with Ami Faku.
Like so many South African singer/songwriters, Ami Faku discovered she could sing at church. She is one of our country’s fastest rising stars and has made a huge impact with a style which she describes as modern Afro-Soul.
Among her remarkable achievements over the last couple of years includes being the most streamed female African artist on Spotify and Deezer, Having 5 songs in the top 200 during 2019, and the only newcomer to have three songs on Apple Music’s 100 Best Songs for 2019. This Eastern Cape gem is the real deal!
Here’s the song Ebhayi from her beautiful 2019 album, Imali. Even though I don’t understand or speak Xhosa, I spent a happy hour getting lost in Ami Faku’s sultry voice. Enjoy 😎
Number two slot in my new South African talent selection of today is an exciting new find, the duo THESIS ZA. This is a Cape Town-based contemporary jazz duo made up of singer and songwriter Ayanda Charlie and saxophonist, keyboardist and composer Ondela Simakuhle.
To quote their website, ‘The two singles they have released thus far—"Iphupha" and "Iintloni"—reveal them as a duo that pays attention to detail and is deliberate about everything you hear. Their music is minimalist, but there's evidence of meticulous work that goes behind their writing and song-making processes. THESIS ZA's music has traces of neo-soul, R&B, Afro-soul and jazz. The duo is the latest addition to the long list of innovators in South Africa's versatile jazz scene’.
These Cape Town-based ladies have performed throughout South Africa, with a career highlight being a European tour to Germany and Switzerland in 2016 for the Show Me Festival. Good news for Capetonians is that THESIS ZA returns for a much-anticipated performance at the Baxter Theatre on 4 April 2020. Be there if you can.
Here’s the song Iphupha. Enjoy.😎
15 March: The lady I have chosen to close this Sunday’s selection of new South African musicians recently released her debut album, Ayandastand, which is a fun play on her name, Ayanda Jiya.
Born and raised in the North West Province of South Africa, this lady hasn’t given up in the face of adversity. Although she released an EP in 2014 it was taken off of the streaming services due to a legal issue. She carried on her dream and in 2017 her second EP, To Whom It May Concern, went to No 1 on iTunes and Google Play on its day of release. 2019 saw the release of the much-anticipated album, Ayandastand.
After a listen I am sure that you will agree that this album is sure to put her firmly in the South African, and hopefully global, music game. She deserves it! Here’s Lover 4 Life, one of the many tracks that stood out for me. Thanks for listening to local with me this weekend. Enjoy your Sunday! 😎
16 March: I hadn’t heard the Chilian outfit, Newan Afrobeat, before although they have been active since 2010. Their style finds its inspiration in the Nigerian Afrobeat of Fela Kuti and their répertoire includes some of Kuti's titles. Let me tell you little about Kuti before we get to the music.
Fela Kuti was a Nigerian activist/musician/composer and rebel philosopher to boot. Legend states that after his mother was killed in a military uprising, Kuti took his mother’s casket to Dodan Barracks along with a huge crowd of people, met Obasanjo and Yar'adua (then military leaders who later became democratic President) and gave the coffin to them. He declared his own republic (Kalakuta Republic) and recorded and performed hundreds of songs. The Nigerian police had no jurisdiction in the Kalakuta Republic, a fact that was exploited by all the local ‘misfits’. The government could not bear the humiliation so cooked up serious propaganda against Kuti and he was subsequently jailed. His music was banned in Nigeria but Fela could not be stopped, his performances in Kalakuta Republic pulled in local and international audiences
Newen Afrobeat’s music is also influenced by the aboriginal roots of their own country. Their live performances are also demonstrations in support of the Chilean traditional Mapuche cause. The traditional Mapuche people make up a large percentage of Central Chile and the Argentinian population and are in an ongoing battle for land and indigenous rights and recognition.
For me, to hear a Chilean band perform the music of a Nigerian musician and icon is the epitome of World music. Apart from that, their energy and sound is completely contagious and they are great fun to watch perform. This is a Fela Kuti track, Upside Down, filmed live at the SalsaMaster in Santiago in 2015. Enjoy
I’m featuring one more track from Newen Afrobeat tonight. I gave you a background to Fela Kuti in my last post. This clip is all the members of Newen Afrobeat along with numerous members of Egypt 80, Fela Kuti’s original band from Nigeria, now being headed up by his son, Seun, since his death. This collaboration happened during the Womad Festival of
Having watched original footage of Felix Kuti, the similarity between him and his son is remarkable. You could be watching the same person. Getting all 21 musicians into a studio and miked-up must have been a logistical nightmare, never mind the heat build-up – as you’ll see,
Here’s Newen Afrobeat, Seun Koti and members of Egypt 80 with Opposite People. Have a happy Monday evening folks.😎
17th Mar: I’m going to play some tracks from a band that were often referred to as the Beatles of Canada, The Guess Who. They formed in 1965 and their line-up over the years has included the likes of Randy Bachman (Bachman Turner Overdrive) and the brilliant Burton Cummings who was the frontman for The Guess Who until 1975.
Burton Cummings was responsible for many of the band's huge hits, two of my favourites which appear on their 4th studio album, Wheatfield Soul. I’m starting tonight with one of their best-known tracks, These Eyes. Burton Cummings wrote this when he was 19-years-old. That’s talent! 😎
The second song from The Guess Who for today is also from the Wheatfield Soul album, and another Burton Cummings composition, I Found Her in a Star. 😎
Although many people think that Lenny Kravitz wrote American Woman, it was written many years beforehand by Richard Bachman and Burton Cummings of The Guess Who. The origins of the song has an interesting story attached: Although some think the song is about some floozy, it is actually an anti-Vietnam War anthem.
As the band were heading across the Canadian border to play a gig in the USA, they had an altercation with an officious border patrol guard who tried to get them to sign up for the draft. The band turned-tail and head back to Canada.
With no gig planned they managed a last-minute booking. In the middle of the show, Randy Bachman broke a string. While quickly re-stringing and tuning his guitar backstage he hit on the famous opening riff. To make sure he didn’t forget it, he returned to the stage and started playing the chord progression of the riff. Burton Cummings took the initiative and started singing the first thing that came into his head. And so American Woman was born.
I hope you’ve enjoyed revisiting some of Guess Who’s hits. Have a terrific Tuesday evening folks. 😎
19 March: In light of the strange times that we are all finding ourselves in I am going to keep all posts happy, upbeat and positive until further notice! So let’s kick off with some happy World Music.
It was my housemate who introduced me to Balkan Beat Box (BBB) a few years back and I did feature one of their tracks a few months ago. I have chosen three tracks from their 2013 New York live concert, not because there is a shortage of any other clips on YouTube, but because they are just so much fun to watch perform.
BBB was born of a fusion of the two co-founders particular styles of music. Ori Kaplan was a Klezmer clarinettist (Klezmer – traditional Jewish music), and Tamir Muskat who was the drummer of a Punk Rock band. As odd as it may seem, their sound is a unique incorporation of Mediterranean and Balkan traditions with Dancehall beats.
If you have never heard the Balkan Beat Box before, maybe it’s time you did. Here’s Dancing With the Moon. Enjoy! 😎
As children, the co-founders of Balkan Beat Box felt that their traditional music was outdated and didn’t reflect their experiences of world culture, and with the enthusiasm that kid’s have they set about putting that right. Among their inspiration and influencers, they include Charlie Parker, Manu Chao and Jamaican Dub music.
BBB released their first album in 2005 and by 2006 had included the well-know Tel Aviv artist, Tomer Yosef, as the frontman for the band (now a core member), so bringing an element to their live performances that they had been missing.
Both the first and second album (2007) received global acclaim, with the track Bulgarian Chicks becoming a Dancehall and Club hit in 2008. Here is the live version from the 2013 New York live show. These fellows know how to build up a sweat.
The Balkan Beat Box have released six albums to date and have toured extensively bringing their Mediterranean/Balkan fusion to a global audience. Their 2012 album ‘Give’ was influenced by the Arab Spring, Occupy movements, and the spirit of change around the world. Spin Magazine dubbed the band "a global peace-keeping mission that you can dance to".
I’m closing today's selection with a composition that showcases some of the traditional Klezmer roots that underpin so much of their music. Here’s Kabulectric.
Thanks for doing the Balkan Beat Box boogie with me today. If you are looking for some fun, upbeat viewing to cheer up these troubling times I can highly recommend the full Balkan Beat Box New York performance. I’ll post a link in the comments section for you.
Until next time, keep safe and keep positive. 😎
20th Mar: Today saw the release of the first body of work featuring Hugh Masekela since his death in 2018. Rejoice is a collaboration between iconic Nigerian drummer, Tony Allen, and Bra Hugh. The recordings were made during Hugh Masakela’s visits to Felix Kuti in Nigeria. Tony Allen was Felix Kuta’s drummer and one of the founders of the Afrobeat sound that we featured earlier this week with the Chilian Newan Afrobeat selection.
Tony Allen thought that the whole project that he and Bra Hugh worked on had been abandoned years ago, but fortunately for millions of fans, it has finally been released by the BMG group.
“The preservation of the African, and the South African sounds, is critical,” said Mabusha Masekela, speaking at the special listening held on the 5th March in Johannesburg. “This album speaks directly to that. It encapsulates what is essentially folk music so that our music and narratives are remembered forever. It’s also a reminder that we need to do much more to immortalise these sounds and stories before they are lost and forgotten”. I couldn’t agree more. Here’s Jabulani from the Rejoice album.
There was a very exciting album release today and this is the second track I’m sharing from Rejoice, the ‘forgotten’ album from the late, great Hugh Masakela and Tony Allen, the Nigerian drummer and musical director for the famed Felix Kuti.
Hugh Maselea and Tony Allen met in the '70s when Masekela paid two famously wild visits to Lagos, where he spent most of his time hanging out with Kuti and his band. They played together again in the 80s, before finally getting round to recording in 2010.
But only now is their collaboration album, Rejoice, being released. It promises to be one of the African albums of the year, although Allen seems a little bemused. “I thought it had been abandoned,” he says.
“Not so”, says Nick Gold, who co-produced the recordings: “I knew they wanted to work together. They were going to be in the same place at the same time, so I booked a studio for two days, not to make an album, but to see what would happen. It was just an experiment.” Now, he and Allen have supervised the addition of new bass lines and a dash of keys, vibraphone and extra percussion, while leaving the original work untouched. “I said: ‘I’m not touching my drums,’” says Allen. “‘They’ve been done!’ The feeling was unique with Hugh and I together.” (Robin Denselow for The Guardian)
This album isn’t going to be a classic. It already is! 😎
I hope that you find these weekly recaps of Loving the Music mini-features make your musical world a little easier. Happy exploring! Join our Facebook Community here for a music group who does more than just post a link to a song.
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