Nigerian Music Artists

H Is For Hip Hop And Its Queens

H in the A to Z of fusion goes to Hip Hop music – leaving aside here the other core elements that make up hip hop culture.

Hip Hop earns its place because its creation definitely involves the refined art of fusion. From DJs mixing records they spin to studio producers/beat makers sampling, chopping, looping, sequencing, recording and mixing-  the beats, sounds and grooves that make up hip hop music are found and blended together from a broad range of worldwide music sources including funk, soul, rhythm and blues, disco, jazz, rock, heavy metal, reggae, salsa, cumbia, soca, pop and well, any other genre you choose really.

The evolution of hip hop music is long and involved. Its characters and contributors are many. Its history fills pages you can find elsewhere. Sufficed to say here its original roots are found in Africa and since its formation in New York in the 70’s the hip hop phenomena has spread far and wide throughout the world. Erykah Badu perfectly describes its contemporary influence in ‘The Healer’ when she sings “It’s bigger than religion, hip hop. It’s bigger than my nigga, hip hop. It’s bigger than the government”.  And thankfully so.

“The Healer” by Erykah Badu – New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War)

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It’s the hip hop Kings of the world who’ve generally been the most heard and celebrated. Check out “essential hip hop” albums to find most are compilations of tracks by male artists. But of course there are female artists all over the world creating hip hop music whether they be DJ’s, MCs, beat makers or producers. Sampled below are songs featuring just a handful of those many hip hop Queens – some widely known and celebrated, others less so.

The usual warning applies: versions you find here are just dirty, compressed mp3s. Get the real deal on hard copy from your local music store, in their sweetest of forms on vinyl.

Erykah Badu (U.S.A)

Erykah Badu - Worldwide Underground

“Love Of My Life Worldwide” featuring Queen Latifah, Angie Stone & Bahamadia – Worldwide Underground

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Fugees (inc. Ms Lauryn Hill) (U.S.A)

Fugees - Blunted On Reality

“Some Seek Stardom” – Blunted on Reality

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ChocQuibTown (Colombia)

ChocQuibTown - Somos Pacifico

“Somos Pacifico” – Somos Pacifico

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Georgia Anne Muldrow (U.S.A)

Georgia Anne Muldrow - A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

“Monoculture” – A Thoughtiverse Unmarred

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Ladi6 (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

Ladi6 - Time Is Not Much

“Give Me The Light” – Time Is Not Much

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Nneka (Nigeria/Germany)

Nneka - No Longer At Ease

“Halfcast” – No Longer At Ease 

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Telmary (Cuba)

Telmary - A Diario

“Ando” – A Diario

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Yep, blessed are we for the birth of hip hop music and its ongoing fusionary evolution since by artists all over the world.  Thankful are we for both its Queens and its Kings.

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Nneka Live & With Love In The Eutropia Sanctuary

I’ve discovered that when in Rome in the Summertime, the good-vibes, open-air, artistic sanctuary of Eutropia Festival with its killer line-up of music artists seems like the only place in the city to be. Also that when in any part of the world at any time there’s a live Nneka concert to be found, that is most definitely the place to be.

Nneka live in concert at Eutropia Festival 2015

Nneka live at Eutropia Festival 2015

Having loved Nneka’s unique fusion of soul, reggae, Afrobeat and hip-hop music for a long time and having made it my [very-out-of-the-way] mission to get myself to Rome to finally have myself the blessed live Nneka experience, my hopes and expectations for her Eutropia show were incredibly high.

What Nneka and her four-piece band gave (their All), and what the audience received at the gig from the moment they stepped on stage until the last note of the encore played nearly two hours later, went far above and beyond all those hopes and expectations.

with Nneka live in concert at Eutropia Festival 2015

with Nneka live in concert at Eutropia Festival 2015

Nneka live in concert at Eutropia Festival 2015Gros Ngolle Pokossi with Nneka live at Eutropia Festival 2015with Nneka live in concert at Eutropia Festival 2015The five artists with their combined talents, performed nearly all songs on Nneka’s recently-released album My Fairy Tales as well as a handful of her most well-known tracks from Soul Is Heavy and No Longer At Ease.

Despite the serious lyrical content of those songs, one dedicated to “all the refugees who’ve drowned at sea just trying to find a better home, and all the blood shed for religion”, the music and its delivery lifted the Eutropia crowd higher, higher and higher again. As Nneka herself pointed out to the Eutropia crowd, to constantly battle against the world’s injustices is tiring – and to throw love back at those causing the suffering is a much more productive and uplifting exercise. From start to finish positive energy and love were undoubtedly flowing to and from the stage.

Nneka live in concert at Eutropia Festival 2015

Both seeing and hearing the young but seemingly old-soul Nneka, open her self-described (‘Halfcast’) “big lips” and “big mouth” to sing her politically and spiritually charged lyrics with the most truthful and naturally flowing emotions from heart and soul, with her incredible voice, mesmerized me like no other female artist has done before in the live arena except for the divine Erykah Badu.

Nneka live in concert at Eutropia Festival 2015

Get a glimpse of the very special live Nneka experience with this here footage from her Eutropia show. The first song ‘Shining Star’ is a single from her 2011 album Soul Is Heavy, and the second ‘Babylon’ is from the new album My Fairy Tales.


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You can also listen below to a compressed mp3 version of the track ‘Book of Job’ from My Fairy Tales, two more here (‘Believe System’ + ‘Local Champion’) and songs from past Nneka albums here. Remember you deserve to hear and have the hold-in-your-hands, uncompressed hard copies in you music collection to love forever after, and in whatever form you choose to get them, Nneka and her musical collaborators deserve your financial support.

Nneka - My Fairy Tales (2015)
Book of Job by Nneka – My Fairy Tales (2015)

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Concerts in the good-vibes sanctuary of Eutropia L’Altra Città Festival 2015 continue until September (check out the program here). If you can only get to one, be sure to make it the George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic show tonight 🙂 .

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My Fairy Tales By Nneka

Once upon a time at the beginning of the 80s, a beautiful and intelligent girl from the Nigerian kingdom of Warri was born. She was named Nneka Lucia Egbuna, and was destined to bring much musical goodness to the world.

Nneka grew into a passionate, socially and politically conscious woman.  Also a special music artist with a unique vocal style and moving voice.

By 2011 Nneka had blessed the world with three albums+ of the delightfully soulful, hip hoppy, skanking kind [listen here].  Through those songs she told stories of suffering and injustice that needed to be told; and was a musical messenger of the kind that the all-too-troubled world needed more of.

Nneka - Soul Is Heavy (2011)

Soul Is Heavy (2011)

Nneka - No Longer At Ease

No Longer At Ease (2008)

Nneka - Victim of Truth

Victim of Truth (2005)

 

 

 

 

 

The world and its people who heard Nneka’s music were better for it. And, so it became that Nneka was decreed a living music legend.

Four seemingly long years later, and not so long ago, Nneka finally gifted the world with another album she named My Fairy Tales.

Nneka - My Fairy Tales

My Fairy Tales (2015)

Nneka fans of old found less of the soul and hip hop flavours in My Fairy Tales than past albums. They got more Afrogroove highlife, reggae and dub; even a dash of EDM to end the story. Some folks felt that overall My Fairy Tales didn’t have the same ‘bite’ as other Nneka creations. Others said the new album’s sound was more cohesive and consistent than albums which came before.

No matter what was said, everyone agreed on some things: it was an absolute pleasure to hear Nneka’s impassioned voice singing nine new songs; the music sounded like no other in the world; the bass lines in My Fairy Tales hit them deeply like bass should; and importantly, that it was good to be reminded that despite the suffering, corruption, violence and injustices inflicted on Africans (and people everywhere), the response must always remain the same: education, compassion and the Almighty Love, in abundance.

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People all around the world listened to My Fairy Tales and loved it. They felt refreshed and grateful to hear new music of the high quality and conscious kind.

Believe System by Nneka – My Fairy Tales

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Local Champion by Nneka – My Fairy Tales

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The people bought My Fairy Tales and other Nneka albums on vinyl where they could, or at least on cd; and treasured them in their music collection forever thereafter. They admired Nneka’s paintings –  remembered the music and messages of dearly departed Fela Kuti – pored over the lyrics in storybook font and discovered the names of Nneka’s many musician and producer collaborators – felt touched by Nneka’s voice – heeded her messages, and danced.

Nneka - My Fairy Tales (2015)

The extra-blessed also found themselves the live Nneka experience somewhere around the world in 2015.

For My Fairy Tales and all other Nneka music experiences before and beyond, the people lived, and died when they’re naturally supposed to, happily ever after in peace and love. 🙂

The End.

…of Beaver’s Fairy Tale.

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Tony Allen’s Film of Life – 2014 Music Supreme

“Thank you for listening to my music” Tony Allen says humbly in the opening track of Film of Life. The Nigerian-born, Paris-based drummer/composer/songwriter/musical director best-known to Afrobeat lovers as its co-founder and pioneer alongside Fela Kuti for a long time thereafter, continues ‘Moving On’ by reminding us of past album titles from his long and legendary music career which are (sadly) just as relevant today as then (No Discrimination for example). Tony Allen finishes his introduction to Film of Life by telling listeners to “Check it out”.

Tony Allen - Film of Life (2014)

In response to Tony Allen I’d say “Thank you for 50+ years of making and playing incredible music for the world to hear and enjoy for the rest of time”. Moving on more specifically to Film of Life I say to readers here “Check it out” you must. It’s one of the world’s most valuable musical creations of 2014 and the supreme of all albums added to my music collection this past year.

Ten tracks collaboratively written and performed by Tony Allen and other great artists (Damon Albarn NefretitiAdunni Kuku) and produced by French trio The Jazzbastards, means diversity. Afrobeat lovers will find music and vocals easily recognisable as straight ol’ (quality) Afrobeat. Flying Lotus fans could be forgiven for thinking some songs from Film of Life are collaborations between Steven Ellison and Tony Allen.  Folks into futuristic spy movies might sometimes feel they’re hearing the soundtrack to their favourite film. Lovers of all sounds funk get plenty of them all throughout Film of Life. Dub heads get their fix too.

Then there’s other bunches of different musical flavours again, like the albums first single co-written and performed with Damon Albarn (Blur / Gorillaz).

The consistency linking it all together is the very distinct-sounding and absolutely supreme chops of 74 year old Tony Allen on drum kit, perfectly playing his multi-layered polyrythyms better-than-ever before; and demonstrating again with Film of Life that in a globalised world of cross-genre music he never fails to drive his ‘Afrobeat Expresso’ into the current day and up front of the musical lane.

Tony Allen - Film of Life (2014)

Given the diversity of sounds on Film of Life two songs can’t properly represent what it is (especially in compressed mp3 version). Here’s a sample taste of its flavours anyway…

Tony Allen - Film of Life (2014)

Film of Life (2014)

‘African Man’ – Tony Allen – Film of Life (2014)

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‘Afo KunfFu Beat’ – Tony Allen – Film of Life (2014)

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If you like the samples, check out Film of Life in it’s highest sound quality version you must. Hear it on vinyl, or at least cd. Keep that and any past Tony Allen albums you can find in your valuable music collection forever thereafter. Amen.

And a happy new year of music to all! 🙂

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Byron Bay Bluesfest – Only For The Music

On it’s 25th anniversary, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 was the best one for me yet.  It was an unusually comfortable Bluesfest experience under unusually clear, blue Easter skies and sunshine – with the usual phenomenal music artists playing on its 7 stages.

Every year that I’ve gone to Byron Bay Bluesfests past, I have moaned about the things that I’m not into about the overall Bluesfest experience.  Each year after where I can, I’ve bought another costly Bluesfest ticket, and gone back again. I’ve done that for one reason only:  The Music.

Erykah Badu live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Erykah Badu – Bluesfest 2014

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Sly & Robbie + The Taxi Gang-Bluesfest 2014

Despite my grumblings about non-musical aspects of the festival, I always go home from Bluesfest feeling musically satisfied after hearing some of the western world’s most incredible music artists of contemporary history. Just a few of those artists from Bluesfests past are Fred Wesley, Burning Spear, Damian Marley, Ernest Ranglin and Parliament Funkadelic.

Musically, Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 went the same way. I went from one stage to another, finding artist after artist who blew me away with their music and/or musicianship.

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At Bluesfest 2014 I also found I had less of the usual non-musical things to moan about. One of the main reasons for that was because this years festival seemed to have much smaller crowds than in others – making the overall festival experience a much more hassle-free and comfortable one.

“Australia’s Premiere Blues and Roots Music Festival”

This year I heard other people moaning about the festival line-up. “Not enough blues”, “No big name acts” etc.  Well thankfully for lovers of reggae, soul, r&b, funk and hip-hop music, Byron Bay Bluesfest hasn’t been just a blues music festival for many years past.  And lots of the artists that performed in 2014 are big name acts in the musical worlds of many (mine) – just not big in the worlds of the people complaining:  Erykah BaduAaron NevilleLarry Graham (former Sly and The Family Stone) – Sly & RobbieThe WailersIndia Arie.

Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 poster

The artists below are the ones I caught at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 who sent me away from their shows as high as high can be on their music and/or musicianship.

Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 Music

Queen Erykah Badu (USA)

Erykah Badu’s show at the Palais Theatre in Melbourne earlier in the same week of the festival was simply divine. Her festival show, somehow was even more divine again – and for me the top highlight of Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014.

Like in Melbourne, Erykah Badu demonstrated with every sound and movement she made, that she is an incredibly talented artist (and woman) like none other in the world.

Erykah Badu live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Erykah Badu at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Erykah Badu’s powerful stage presence and incredible vocals captivated me and everyone around me from the moment she stepped onto the stage until coming back from some time amongst the crowd to finish the show.

Erykah Badu live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Erykah Badu live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Videos here of Erykah Badu performing ‘I Want You’ ‘…& On’ live at Bluesfest 2014

Aaron Neville (USA)

Aaron Neville and the sounds of his heavenly voice took me to another world.

Now in his 70‘s, naturally his voice has the sounds of life lived. They make that voice ever-so-much richer than in years past when it was of the completely squeeky-clean heavenly kind.

Aaron Neville live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Aaron Neville at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Videos of Aaron Neville’s performing ‘Fever’ + ‘Everybody Plays The Fool’ live at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 here…

 

Sly & Robbie and The Taxi Gang (Jamaica)

The first part of Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang’s Bluefest shows were incredibly tight. Tasty dub and reggae to die for. The energy of the show was high, and rising.

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

The music stayed tasty and tight all through their set. But the energy dropped and the band seemed to look slightly bored (or embarrassed?) from the time they introduced vocalist Bitty Mclean to join them on stage – as “the new Crown Prince of Reggae Music”.

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Check out this video of a song from the first half of Sly & Robbie’s Bluesfest show to hear these words of wisdom…

 “If you’re hot, you’re hot. If you’re not, you’re not. Use what you got.”

+ 1 more…

Sly & Robbie and the other instrumentalists in their band are musically hot, musically brilliant. They use what they got – and it’s more than enough without needing a “crown prince” to croon amongst them.

Check out this video from the second half of Sly & Robbie’s show to see if you agree…

 “The new Crown Prince of Reggae Music”?  Really?  

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Bitty McLean

Chali 2na (USA)

“Hands up if you agree with me that all music played on the radio now is shit?  Welcome to the Chali 2na radio station”.

Chali 2na live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Chali 2na at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Chali 2na’s words of welcome to the crowd at his Byron Bay Bluefest shows went like that.

So, everyone tuned in to Chali 2na and his 3-piece bands live radio station and went with them on an energetic journey of the funk, hip-hop and reggae kind. Those 2 live radio programs kept the crowd dancing and smiling throughout the hour – and screaming for more when the end came.  The best and longest dances I had at Bluesfest 2014 were at these two Chali 2na shows.

Chali 2na live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Chali 2na live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Chali 2na live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Chali 2na live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Videos from both Chali 2na’s Bluesfest 2014 shows here (+ 1 below of him emceeing with Ozomatli)

The Wailers (Jamaica)

What else can I say about The Wailers minus Bob Marley except this: stellar musicianship – and good music that made everyone happy.

Video here of The Wailers playing ‘Three Little Birds’ at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014…

The Soul Rebels (USA)

The Soul Rebels with their brass-heavy soul, r&b, funk and jazz music, hail from one of my dream musical destinations of the world – New Orleans.  A 2015 mission of mine, I’m sure.

The Soul Rebels - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

The Soul Rebels at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Video here of The Soul Rebels live at Bluesfest 2014…

Larry Graham & Graham Central Station (USA)

The stage show by Larry Graham & Graham Central Station was, well, pretty corny.

Larry Graham & Graham Central Station live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Larry Graham & Graham Central Station live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

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But if you ignored the group’s white glam outfits and show moves; if you just listened to Larry Graham’s phenomenal bass playing; and looked up to see him playing bass so thoughtlessly and effortlessly as though an extension of his body, you found instrumental gold.  Some Sly & The Family Stone tunes were included in the set.

Larry Graham & Graham Central Station live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Videos of Larry Graham on bass at Bluesfest 2014 here – 1 with the full band + 1 of just he and a drum kit player…

India Arie (USA)

I have loved India Arie’s music for a long time. She was one of those “big name” musical acts that got me to Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014.

India Arie live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

India Arie at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

India Arie played 2 festival shows. I left before the end of the first – and what I heard there didn’t get me back to see the second. The only reason I can figure as to why the show didn’t move me, is the absence of a bass player on stage with her.

India Arie live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014India Arie live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Videos from India Arie’s 1st Bluesfest show here for you to check out…

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 (Nigeria)

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 put on a good show of Afrobeat song and dance of old as well as new from their recently released album A Long Way To The Beginning.

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

You can check out a video here of Sean Kuti doing his thing at the group’s Bluesfest show + a sample track from the 2008 album Many Things

‘Many Things’ – Seun Kuti – Many Things (2008)

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Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Ozomatli (USA)

Los Angeles based group Ozomatli have been around for 20 years playing their mix of hip-hop, funk, r&b, reggae, dancehall, salsa, cumbia, merengue, samba, comparse & more.

That diversity of musical styles and the vocal and instrumental versatility of its band members, have made every live Ozomatli experience I’ve had a special one. Their Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014 shows were no exception.

Ozomatli live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Ozomatli live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Ozomatli live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Ozomatli live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Videos here of Ozomatli live at Byron Bay Bluesfest

This one with Chali 2na …
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Ozomatli live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014Ozomatli live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

The Ones That Might Have Gotten Away

The artists whose shows I heard and loved were of course just a handful of artists who performed at Byron Bay Bluefest 2014.

Also in the line-up were Joss Stone, Dr John, Morcheeba, Elvis Costello, John MayerDoobie Brothers, KC & The Sunshine BandMichael Franti & Spearhead, The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, Jack Johnson, Jeff Beck, Dave Matthews Band, Steve Earle & The Dukes + more.

Morcheeba live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Morcheeba at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra (Australia)

Keeping with some Afrobeat flavours, have a listen here to a sample track from one of the Australian groups in the Bluesfest 2014 line-up – The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

Public Opinion Afro Orchestra - Do Anything Go Anywhere (2010)

Do Anything Go Anywhere (2010)

‘Future Africa’ – Do Anything Go Anywhere (2010) – The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

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You can check out another sample track + a video of The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra live at AWME (Australasian Worldwide Music Expo) 2013 here.

Musically I think Byron Bay Bluesfest can rightfully claim to be “Australia’s premiere blues and roots festival” – music found in a large part of the western world at least. I maintain that WOMADelaide festival takes the Australian festival prize for musical quality from all corners of the wider world – and importantly, for the things apart from music that make an overall festival experience an amazing one.

Beaver’s Moaning

“It’s pretty much an event where hopefully the vast majority of people are only there for the music. That’s what it’s all about. There’s not an awful lot of other effects happening at Bluesfest. I realised a long time ago it’s a music festival, that’s all it is. It’s not about prettying the site up and all that. We put our money into musicians”

Peter Noble – Festival Director of Byron Bay Bluesfest (from interview in Melbourne’s Beat Magazine – April 2014)

So, Byron Bay Bluesfest is what Peter Noble says it is.

The festival undoubtedly brings amazing music and amazing musicians to Australia.

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Sly & Robbie

But for me and everyone I know, a good music festival experience is about so much more than the music.

Personally I’d love to see more festival money spent on those “other effects” and “prettying the site up” – for the benefit of everyone who spends their money on going to Bluesfest to hear its legendary artists.

Bluesfest owns the land where the festival happens – on a beautiful tea tree farm at Tyagarah, just outside the town of Byron Bay (one of the world’s alternative-living, natural paradises). They can make the festival site and people’s festival experience whatever they want it to be.

On a site that is surrounded by trees, I’d love to see some trees inside the festival space.

At a festival that lets thousands and thousands of ticket holders through its gates each day, I’d love to see that tiny site in the middle of the photo become a much bigger space – where people could move around it freely and in comfort – without feeling like a cow being herded slowly between stages.

I’d love to see the creation of lots of different types of meeting spaces inside the festival site where people can relax and hang out together during those long festival days and nights. More than a big canteen-style food court where you eat and run. More grass for people to sit on instead of gravel. Bars with chairs inside them to sit and have a drink. More cafes, and restaurants to hang out in.

For an extra $350 the financially privileged of the world can buy a VIP ticket so they can enjoy some small comforts the rest of the festival punters can’t – a VIP bar and toilets with smaller lines, and some comfortable seats to rest their weary bones upon.

This year for an extra $1590 on top of the ticket price, the ever-so-privileged (and dare I say stupid?) people of the world could “treat themselves to something really special” by buying themselves entry to the VIP Sunset Club. There, in the middle of the festival site, they could “watch the hustle and bustle of Bluesfest from the private balcony”.

VIP Sunset Club - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Bluesfest VIP Sunset Club- as advertised on www.bluesfest.com.au

VIP Sunset Club - Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Bluesfest 2014 VIP Sunset Club – as is

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I’d love to see money spent by the festival on making everyone’s festival experience a more comfortable one. We have enough inequalities and class structures in the world already – let’s not create them in our music festivals too.

Byron Bay Bluesfest is what it is, now. We’ll see what it becomes. The festival site at Tyagarah is a relatively new one for Bluesfest.  It will get better with age no doubt.

Hopefully one day I’ll have lots more reasons to give you apart from the music for why I want to get myself to Byron Bay Bluesfest whenever I can.

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang - live @ Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Sly & Robbie & The Taxi Gang at Byron Bay Bluesfest 2014

Byron Bay Bluesfest 2015

Before leaving Bluesfest 2014 I bought myself a season pass for Bluesfest 2015 at early bird prices – because next year I know that like always, the line-up will include incredible music artists I simply must experience live. If you want to get yourself to the festival in 2015, the sooner you buy tickets the better – prices will go up and up until Bluesfest comes around next Easter and a season pass is nearly double its cost now.

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The WOMADelaide Experience – What Everyone Wants

Everyone I know who experiences WOMADelaide festival, wants to experience it again. Everyone I know who’s heard about the WOMADelaide experience, wants to have it.

That’s because it’s one of the world’s best musical festivals, and Australia’s very best. Fundamentally for the quality of music and its friendly festival people, but for so many other reasons too.

So declares I anyway – and anyone I’ve ever spoken with about it who’s in the know.

Nai Palm of Hiatus Kaiyote - Live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Cherif Soumano (with Roberto Fonseca) live @ WOMADelaide 2014

I’ve just experienced WOMADelaide 2014 with about 90,000 other people. Over four days I was reminded over and over again (as they probably were too), of all the reasons we were counting down the days to WOMADelaide 2014 since the end of WOMADelaide 2013.

WOMADelaide 2014

WOMADelaide 2014

The People Will Come

Artists love playing at WOMADelaide. They are treated well, and valued, as artists should be valued. They get to play their music (and sell CDs on-site) to friendly, musically-open-minded and appreciative crowds of people who might otherwise never be exposed to it.

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014Artists not playing at WOMADelaide, who don’t usually take themselves to festivals or gigs unless they are their own, love to go to this festival to hear its global artists.

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Femi Kuti

Hanggai live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Hanggai

The friendly people of Adelaide love to go to their home festival – set up base-camp under an old, shady Botanic Park tree – and enjoy the festival with family and friends. Some of them have been to every WOMADelaide since 1992.

WOMADelaide 2014

WOMADelaide 2014

Parents love to go because they can relax and enjoy the festival knowing their kids are happy and safe somewhere nearby on-site.

WOMADelaide 2014WOMADelaide 2014

Lovers of diverse music who live in other parts of Australia, love to make the music pilgrimage to WOMADelaide whenever possible.

Ngaiire live @ WOMADelaide 2014

NGAIIRE

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force

Sounds of the Planet

“It doesn’t matter which artists are in the line-up.  Turn up to the festival any ole year and you’ll hear amazing artists from all over the world.”

My musician friend who “hates most music”, said that to me about WOMADelaide many years ago. At every WOMADelaide I’ve been to since, his words about the festival’s line-up have rung absolutely true.

WOMADelaide 2014 saw about 500 very diverse artists, representing 20+ countries, performing across 7 festival stages.

All of those artists were good, most were fantastic and many were phenomenal.

Australia Represented

Australian music that I absolutely love, is rare to find. Last year I found two musical diamonds in Ngaiire and Hiatus Kaiyote.

WOMAdelaide programmed both of them at this year’s festival – and their shows were amongst the best I saw.

Hiatus Kaiyote live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Hiatus Kaiyote

Ngaiire live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Ngaiire

Hiatus Kaiyote

A live Hiatus Kaiyote experience amongst the trees at Botanic Park…it was all a bit magical really.

Hiatus Kaiyote live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Hiatus Kaiyote

The spunky Nai Palm on guitar and vocals, smiling all through the set – plus her incredibly talented band members – put a huge and long-lasting smile on my face too.

Hiatus Kaiyote live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Nai Palm – Hiatus Kaiyote

Hiatus Kaiyote live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Hiatus Kaiyote

Hiatus Kaiyote’s music, along with Cuba’s Roberto Fonseca’s music, was the most inspiring and happiness-inducing music of all the music I heard at WOMADelaide 2014.

Videos of Hiatus Kaiyote’s one and only WOMADelaide show here

Hiatus Kaiyote is supporting Queen Erykah Badu at her Australian shows in a few weeks. Lucky me, I’ll be there in Melbourne at what I predict could be the most special live show of 2014 for me 🙂 . 

NGAIIRE

At her WOMADelaide 2014 show Papua New Guinean born, Australian based NGAIIRE, was exactly like NGAIIRE always seems to be – absolutely mesmerizing to hear and see.

Ngaiire @ live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Ngaire @ WOMADelaide 2014

She was accompanied greatly by her skilful band, with a slightly different line-up to usual.

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Check out this video of a new Ngaiire track played live for the 1st time at her WOMADelaide shows…

Sounds of the Rest of the Planet

Aotearoa (New Zealand) – Fat Freddys Drop

I’ve always said that as great as Fat Freddys Drop‘s studio recordings are, their live shows are the ultimate experience of this band.

Fat Freddys Drop live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Fat Freddys Drop

Fat Freddys Drop live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Fat Freddys Drop

Well, I left Fat Freddys Drop’s WOMADelaide show before it finished. And not because I had anywhere else to be. I just wasn’t feeling moved or inspired where I was.

Video of their festival show here. Maybe you’ll be inspired…

China – Hanggai

Hanggai’s music was probably the most foreign and novel to me at WOMADelaide 2014: rock mixed with traditional Mongolian music. The live experience of this band was a totally unique and entertaining one.

Hanggai live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Hanggai

Hanggai live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Hanggai

 

Hanggai live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Hanggai

 

Hanggai live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Hanggai

Check out Hanggai’s WOMADelaide show on video here…

Colombia/Belgium – La Chiva Gantiva

It’s always a treat for me to hear the sounds of traditional Colombian music like cumbia and chirimia in the mix with the likes of funk and afro-beat.  Also to get a dose of the distinctively joyous Colombian energy put out by los Colombianos in La Chiva Gantiva – as well as that of their Flemish, Belgian and Vietnamese band members.

La Chiva Gantiva live @ WOMADelaide 2014

La Chiva Gantiva

La Chiva Gantiva live @ WOMADelaide 2014

La Chiva Gantiva

La Chiva Gantiva wins the WOMADelaide 2014 prize for crowd participation.

La Chiva Gantiva live @ WOMADelaide 2014

La Chiva Gantiva

La Chiva Gantiva live @ WOMADelaide 2014

La Chiva Gantiva

Videos (of their more subdued tracks) from both La Chiva Gantiva’s WOMADelaide shows here

Cuba – Roberto Fonseca

Roberto Fonseca and his phenomenal accompanying band – which included Malian kora and tama player Cherif Soumano – were the musical jewel of the WOMADelaide crown for me.

Cherif Soumano with Roberto Fonseca live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Roberto Fonseca live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Once upon a time, Roberto Fonseca was a young piano player with Ibrahim Ferrer’s Orchestra.  Now and for many years past, he’s been an established artist in his own right. In these days Robert Fonseca’s still young -and is creating stunning Latin Jazz music that explores sounds of traditional African roots music and electronica.

Roberto Fonseca live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Roberto Fonseca

Both the music and the musicianship of this group were an absolute joy to experience live.

Cherif Soumano with Roberto Fonseca live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Cherif Soumano

Yandy Martinez with Roberto Fonseca live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Yandy Martinez

Ramses Rodriguez with Roberto Fonseca Live @ Womadelaide 2014

Ramses Rodriguez

Joel Hierrezuleo with Roberto Fonseca live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Joel Hierrezuleo

Roberto Fonseca’s album Yo was one I made sure I bought home with me from WOMADelaide.

Glimpses of the magic of Roberto Fonseca’s WOMADelaide shows here on video…


France – Dub Inc

A french fusion of ever-so-danceable sounds of dub, reggae, dancehall, ska, ragga, hip-hop, Arab and African music.

Dub Inc live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Dub Inc

Dub Inc live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Dub Inc

Dub Inc live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Dub Inc

Dub Inc live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Dub Inc

The really unique thing about this band is the voices and vocal combinations of Hakim “Bouchkour” Meridja and Aurélien “Komlan” Zohou.

Dub Inc live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Dub Inc

See what I’m talking about here on these videos from Dub Inc’s WOMADelaide 2014 shows

Nigeria – Femi Kuti & The Positive Force

Femi Kuti needs no description. Nor does his music.

Hearing Femi Kuti play saxophone took me somewhere heavenly.

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force live @ WOMADelaide 2014

His supporting band and dancers The Positive Force, were as incredible to hear and watch as you’d expect them to be.

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Femi Kuti & The Positive Force

Videos of Femi Kuti’s one and only WOMADelaide show here. Check out the chops of the Positive Force band towards the end of the first one…

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Spain/Guinea – Buika

Contemporary sounds rooted strongly in traditional flamenco – sung and played exquisitely.

Buika was absolutely divine.

Buika live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Buika

The guitarist accompanying Buika is amongst that group of phenomenal artists I heard at the festival.

Videos from one of Buika’s two WOMADelaide shows here

Sample tracks (mp3 only) off Buika’s album En Mi Piel here too…

Mi Niña Lola – Buika – En Mi Piel

 

Somos (Featuring Chucho Valdes) – Buika – En Mi Piel

 

USA – Arrested Development

You all know who Arrested Development are and what they do. Hip-hop of the inspiring kind.

Arrested Development

Arrested Development

Well, the line-up of the group might have changed. But I think they’re still doing what they’ve always done, in style. With new music and a new album coming.

Arrested Development

Arrested Development

Arrested Development Live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Arrested Development

 

Arrested Development

Arrested Development

 

Arrested Development

Arrested Development

The live Arrested Development experience is one to have.  Check out a video here…

USA – Red Baraat

Red Baraat blends North Indian Bhangra rhythms with the delicious sounds of jazz, brass-funk and hip-hop.

This awesome New York-based group was musically one of my favourites at WOMADelaide 2014.

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Red Baraat

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Red Baraat

 

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Red Baraat

 

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Red Baraat

Their 5-piece-strong brass section was an extra special delight for my musical senses.

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Red Baraat

Videos from each of Red Baraat’s WOMADelaide 2014 shows here…

Red Baraat’s 2nd album Shruggy Ji  is also in my bag of music goodies that I bought home from the festival.

ZimbabweMokoomba

Mokoomba fuses traditional sounds from African music with more modern ones, some of them even disco-like.

Mokoomba live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Mokoomba

Mokoomba live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Mokoomba

 

Mokoomba live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Mokoomba

 

Mokoomba live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Mokoomba

Have a listen to the vocals of this group here on video. They’re sung in traditional Tonga language (unknown to most, even in Africa).

Other corners of the world represented live at WOMADelaide 2014 were Algeria, Bulgaria, India, Iran, Indonesia, Japan, Norway, Pakistan, Portugal, Reunion Island, Tunisia and Scotland.

Rachid Taha live @ WOMADelaide 2014.

Rachid Taha (Algeria)

Carminho live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Carminho (Portugal)

 

DJs Represented

Towards the end of your WOMADelaide nights, when you’re feeling happy and revitalized from all the amazing live music you’ve just experienced and want to keep dancing, you can.

Just head to the Speakers Corner stage and find yourself a spot amongst the trees. There you can have your last dance of the festival day to DJs spinning tasty tunes.

WOMAdelaide 2014 had some of the world’s best DJs on offer…

1. DJ Yoda (UK)

2. DJ Muro (Japan)

3. Awesome Tapes From Africa (USA) – DJ Brian Shimkovitz with his samples from 4000+ rare and random cassette tape recordings collected from Africa for more than a decade.  You can check it out on his blog.

4. Will Holland (aka Quantic) (UK)

Will Holland makes some of my favourite music in the world.

Will Holland (aka Quantic) @ WOMADelaide 2014

Quantic DJ Set @ WOMADelaide 2014

Will Holland (aka Quantic) @ WOMADelaide 2014

Will Holland (aka Quantic)

In his WOMADelaide set he delivered a mix of old and new Quantic concoctions from his large collection of musical productions of the funk, soul and Latin flavoured kinds.  So for me it was possibly the best DJ set I’ve ever experienced.

Check out a video snippet of a new concoction here…

[You can read more about Will Holland’s diverse musical projects, including Ondatrópica, and hear sample Quantic tracks, here.]

More Than Music

Incredible music, a friendly community of people and a green, open-air festival space. WOMADelaide has those fundamental festival ingredients.

It’s got lots more too  – all a part of making it the positive festival experience it is.

Amongst the music and dancing there are activities of all sorts to be found around the festival site…

  • Find your favourite festival artists cooking up their traditional home dishes at Taste The World giving a talk – or a music or dance workshop.
WOMADelaide 2014

The Positive Force dance workshop

  • Listen to environmental talks and panel discussions at The Planet Talks.
  • Interact with a roving theatre performer.
  • Join in or watch the Parade.
  • Lay on the grass in the Pines and watch a visual installation of the best dancers from around the world in slow motion.
Slow Dancing (After Dark)

Slow Dancing (After Dark)

  • Get creative at an art workshop.
  • Eat delicious foods, drinks delightful wines, and browse artisan markets at the Global Village.
  •  Nourish your weary body with a massage at The Healing Village.
  • Or entertain yourself and others in any other ways you want…

Importantly too, festival runnings are professional and smooth. Shows start on time. Set change-overs are efficient. Lighting and sound are quality. Stage emcees do a great job.

The wonderful experience of all that is WOMADelaide, comes at a comparatively cheap festival ticket price too.  At its most expensive (post early-bird rates) the cost of a 4 day pass for 2014 was just over $300.

WOMADelaide Bliss

I think I’m on solid ground for declaring WOMADelaide to be one of the world’s best, and Australia’s very best music festival. Don’t you?

The ‘best’ or not (it’s subjective, I know), one thing is for sure. People who have the WOMADelaide experience get happier with each passing festival hour. Somewhere during those 4 festival days, music and festival bliss kicks in.

WOMADelaide 2014

What do you say peoples? If you’ve already had yourself the WOMADelaide experience, did I get this declaration right? If you haven’t had it yet, surely you want it now?  

We’ve only got about 50.5 weeks to wait until WOMADelaide 2015 !

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‘A’ is for Afrobeat Hip Hop

I was talking music with a Texan musician recently.  He told me about a few fusion music genres from the U.S. I’d never heard of and sounded great.

When I later checked them out I remembered again that the very long and ever-growing list of music genres in our world, is pretty damn cool.

Don’t you think so?

If you do then you might be into this here series my new Texan friend has inspired me to start. It’s an A – Z of Worldwide (Mostly) Fusion Music Genres…with sample tracks where possible.

Here goes…

A

Afrobeat

is a combination of traditional Yoruba music, highlife, jazz and funk with chanted vocals styles and conscious lyrics.

Afrobeat made it into my A list cause it’s one of my all-time favorites.

Afrobeat’s main pioneer was the legendary Nigerian artist Fela Kuti  (you knew that already).

Fela Kuti

Fela Kuti

Fela Kuti was of course succeeded by Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti (amongst others).

Femi Kuti

Femi Kuti

Seun Kuti

Seun Kuti

Many Things (2008)

Many Things (2008)

African Problems (Many Things-2008) – Seun Kuti

Remember please people…it’s just an mp3. Kuti (Fela, Femi & Seun) albums are easy to buy and touch, and amazing to hear.

Afrobeat Hip Hop

I haven’t found this one in any official-type music genre lists. It’s on my A list cause in Melbourne recently I heard The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra playing a combination of Afrobeat and hip hop at their AWME gig.

The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra

Do Anything  Go Anywhere (2010)

Do Anything Go Anywhere (2010)

How Long It Go Take (Do Anything Go Anywhere – 2010) – The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra 

 

Afro-Cuban Jazz

is the earliest form of Latin jazz. It mixes Afro-Cuban clave-based rhythms with jazz harmonies and improvisation techniques.

Another one of my favourite music genres.  Sadly for the world and for Cuban artists, people don’t get to hear most Afro Cuban jazz or other incredible Cuban music without physically going to its soils and looking.

Here are a couple of sample tracks from the Afro-Cuban Jazz Project album Descarga Uno

Afro Cuban Jazz Project - Descarga Uno

Afro Cuban Jazz Project – Descarga Uno

Campina (Descarga Uno) – Afro Cuban Jazz Project

La Fiesta Esta Comenzando (Descarga Uno) – Afro Cuban Jazz Project

Aleatoric

Music the composition of which is partially left to chance and/or some primary element of a composed work’s realisation is left to the determination of its performer.

Aleatoric could be fusion, or not, but it sounds interesting anyways.

Anyone have some Aleatoric music to share?

Or some other weird and wonderful  ‘A’ genre?

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Nneka: Must Hear Music

I have preordained this woman as being on the list of Musical Legends. Whether or not whoever it is that decides legend status actually ever decrees it on Nneka, she will forever remain a legend in my own musical world. If you don’t already know about this incredibly talented artist and her music, you are missing out on something special.

Nneka - www.beaveronthebeats.com

Nneka is Nigerian-German.

Her collection of music released since 2005 is a diverse and sophisticated blend of mostly soul, r&b, hip hop, reggae and afro beat.  Each Nneka song is different – in its mix of musical styles – and with tempos ranging from soulful ballads to more upbeat tracks awesome to dance to.

Nneka’s voice, when singing and rapping, is unique, and beautiful.  Her lyrics are conscious ones.  She tackles important issues of political and social injustices, spirituality, and the importance of recognising and accepting the polarities of light and darkness in the world whilst focusing on love and positivity over hate and negativity.

Nneka - www.beaveronthebeats.comNneka has collaborated and toured with incredible artists around the world, including Damian Marley, Tricky, The Roots & Nas. That might give you some idea of the high calibre of talent Nneka is. I have no idea how popular Nneka is around the world – but I have the feeling that it’s not nearly enough – and that many more people need to know about her music, and will love it as much as I do.

Nneka - www.beaveronthebeats.com

Here are some sample listening tracks. Extra strong MP3 warning for Nneka- there is so much more sound goodness to be heard on the original CDs, all of which are easy to buy online. Buying these Nneka albums is some of the best spent money in my lifetime.

Soul Is Heavy (2012)

Soul Is Heavy (2012)

Sleep (feat Ms Dynamite) – Soul Is Heavy

My Home – Soul Is Heavy

Concrete Jungle (2010)

Concrete Jungle (2010)

Walking – Concrete Jungle

Suffri (Band Version) – Concrete Jungle

Kangpe (feat Wesley Williams) – Concrete Jungle

No Longer At Ease (2008)

No Longer At Ease (2008)

Focus – No Longer At Ease

Gypsy – No Longer At Ease

Victim of Truth (2005)

Victim of Truth (2005)

Africans – Victim of Truth

Confession – Victim of Truth

Material Things – Victim of Truth

The Uncomfortable Truth (2005)

The Uncomfortable Truth (2005)

Heartbeat – The Uncomfortable Truth (EP)

 

I absolutely must see Nneka live when I get the opportunity. Until then I’ll have to be satisfied to watch this video of a recent live show at and by the Sziget Festival in Hungary…

 Surely after hearing the music and seeing the footage, you agree that Nneka should be decreed a Musical Legend?

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