Ties that Bind

6 10 2010

Staying in NYC for the weekend for this and that, for both of them, saw and heard some very nice performances by Khaira (or Haira) Arby and Laurie Anderson.

On Saturday Khaira , ‘The Nightingale of the North,” aka, “The Aretha Franklin of Mali“ was playing a houseparty on the now nightlife-friendly Bowery.  Her North is the desert region of Mali, north of Timbuktu; the temp would make it the south in most countries, just about on a straight line with Jamaica.  The style is being marketed as ‘desert blues’ (she’s a cousin of Ali Farka Touré) and ‘duskcore,’ (think desert, not jungle or techno), but let’s say it fits in with the more established Songhai tradition (named for the Renaissance era African empire, village based, griot, largely secular, Islamic influenced, high tessitura praise singing) tweaked by monumental psych electric guitar runs from 17 year old Abdramane Touré.   One thing I noticed, and something I have seldom seen, is that for two plus hours no one in the band tapped their feet to the beat, any beat.  It just flowed.  So the voice is keening, soaring, evocative, the structure circular, haunting, hypnotic…but the guitar, but the guitar.

Here’s your dashing (means showing appreciation with cash in much of West Africa, not an attribute) author, reduced to singles in these hard times.

Like a lot of musicians in this world Khaira hopes her reception on her first US tour, and readily available music, will allow let her leave her day-job, as a salt trader along the old caravan routes.

It was a privilege to hear such a high quality performance in such an intimate space, the entire band smokin’ (but the guitar…).  I guess that’s why we live here, or in Timbuktu.

Here’s the discography I’ve been able to track down.  Cassette-player-less?  Get a copy of here first CD avail stateside.  I’ve never heard any of these, but did I mention I loved the guitar work I heard live?

• Moulaye     (Samassa Records, Mali, CS, 1990) We have also seen this listed as Diabira.

• Hala    (Mali, CS, 1994)

• Ya Rassoul   (Samassa Records, Mali, CS, 2002 or 2005?)

• Timbuktu Tarab    (Clermont Music, USA, CD, 2010)

This just in : a note from Clermont says they are looking to release all of the cassettes on CD in the future.

 

Now Laurie Anderson is also from the North (Illinois, Ireland, Sweden) and has brought her urban griot vision full circle, from the playful wondering of the early days to looking back and wondering why.  Her latest (Delusions) at BAM was majestic, the visuals not as striking as I wanted them (sheets of rain best), and the music better than ever (able accompaniment by Eyvind Kang on violin and Colin Stetson, sax.).   It was stories, non sequiturs, space-lore, snippets piled high, that by the end of the show are both zero sum and fully loaded, and you have no idea how she did it.

Her latest release is Homeland on Nonesuch Records.  For those of you who don’t know, I released LA’s first single, ‘O Superman,’ back when NYC was full of making, not the curatorial place holder it is now.   Nice to see her wearing my skinny ska tie I gave her in the 70s.

As both performers referenced their ancestors and offered unfamiliar nods to the Divine,  an e-mail that only came in today, addressed to “the Whole World,” seems to tie the skinny all together.

I, Margaret Veronica Nabakooza Kiyaga,

Katonda Afirika, WIFE OF GOD,

have the great honour and pleasure to announce to the whole world that The Lord God, has today,

the 27th September 2010,

beatified the beloved musician of Afirika, Franco.

MAY GOD BE GLORIFIED. AMEN.

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Walkin’ 9-5

3 05 2010

Yup, that’s how I spent my last tree huggin’ beach lovin’ day in San Fran, touring Muir Woods, Chimney Rock, Point Reyes (et fried oysters), Inverness (et Bar-B-Que’d oysters) and the Drake Bay Lighthouse – all north of the Golden Gate.  Muir is Redwoods a go-go, high and mighty, while the lighthouse ‘may be’ the ‘windiest point on America’s Pacific Coast,’  not to mention the loudest, with a drone to make you believe in the Siren’s call.   It’s all true.  Uh, and did I mention I like oysters?

But my REASONS for being in SF was to organize placing our catalog online, (something I try to do every ten years or so) and work on getting the Muslim World Music Day website built and hosted.  Thanks to all those helping with the tasks: the crews at Gracenote and the Internet Archive, and Scott San Filippo (who also donated copies of his single from a bygone era, “No, No, No”/”I Know What You Are” by his our-voices-haven’t-changed-yet band, The End (Friendly Ghost Records, 5536, 7″ single, n.d.).

Sidelines and highpoints include visiting author and critic Greil Marcus, getting a brief tour of the UC Berkeley Music Library, dinner at Chez Panisse, a buying frenzy at Arhoolie Records/Down Home Music and seeing a very nice show on the history of the SF rock.  Here’s two of many new adds to the ARC collection – you decide the sublime or absurd…

That’s Earl Bostic’s  Let’s Dance (King Records, 395-529, 12″, vinyl disc-LP, n.d.) and Jean (the gal) and GenII (the computer) on Two Loves Have I (Mark Records, MC 8518, 12″, vinyl disc-LP, 1974) in nothing less than Quadraphonic.

Somethin’s Happening Here – Bay Area Rock ‘n’ Roll 1963-73” was the show at the Museum of Performance and Design, co-curatored by ARC pal Alec Palao.  Alec graciously donated a copy of the book and 4 CD set chronicling the scene. Stephen Braitman, my redwood guide, also donated a pile of rarities to the show, including what is thought to be the only copy of a single celebrating White Levis by the Jefferson Airplane.  Ironic that the show is in the Veteran’s building, with many Viet Vets coming and going, while the show celebrates the same era with a decidedly anti-war POV.

Another treat was the murals @ the Beach Chalet.  By Lucien Labaudt, they rival the more well know group in Coit Tower, but overlooking the Pacific and surround by craft brewed beer ($2 a pint on Monday nite).

Tooling around SF in my rented Chevy, and seeing a pile of Chinese electric scooters @ the Internet Archive, forced me to buy this paean to forgotten glories.  I’m a former Wobbly and Michigander, so there ‘s a special place in my heart for Union songs and the vanishing breed of autoworkers.

Joe Lisi and His Guitar.   It’s the UAW All the Way (LEM Productions, ESS-1185, 12″, 33.3, LP, n.d.).

Speaking of auto-neurotica I’ve lived in NY for over 40 years and never gotten a parking ticket.  EVERY time I go to CA I get a parking ticket.  Is it me or signage?  Maybe it’s this side that is the easy-going coast?  So I love CA, but it’s a song I sing with an expression as below…

Thanks to Brooke and Gabby (Sonny Stitt’s grand-daughter) who made a week in SF possible and palatable!








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