The International Language
As we prepare to once again celebrate the birth of freedom, Independence Day, I thought we’d take this opportunity to honor America by discussing … um, music that is not from America. (At least not North America.) Specifically, the Summer Global Music Voyage series, which gets underway at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge this Thursday with Peru’s Novalima. (See the story on page 62.)
Charlotte-based world-music label Cumbancha curated the four-show series, which features some intriguing, up-and-coming world-music acts. The thing is, world music is pretty, well, foreign to most of us. So, to get the scoop on who’s who, we went right to the source and asked Cumbancha founder Jacob Edgar to dish on each band in the series.
Novalima, Thursday, June 30
“Peru is one of those hidden gems of music,” Edgar says. It’s unique music, and I’ve always been a fan of traditional Afro-Caribbean music. But I’ve also always been a fan of the new wave of contemporary musicians experimenting with traditions and taking it in a direction that reflects their reality.” He notes that, at the time Novalima emerged, Afro-Peruvian music was being ignored in Peru. “But you have this group of young, hip, cosmopolitan, well-educated musicians creating this really cool, new approach in a way that both respected and innovated with the tradition.”
Freshlyground, Saturday, July 9
“They’re the group that will be the least familiar [to American audiences]. But in the world they’re the most famous band that is being presented,” Edgar says, adding that the band is the most popular group in South Africa, having collaborated on a song with Shakira during the most recent World Cup soccer tournament. “They play stadiums there,” Edgar notes. “So it will be fun to see them in a venue like the Showcase Lounge.
“They’re a young band, and multicultural,” he continues. “You have a cross-section of South African society represented. In their music and their individuality as a group, they represent postapartheid South Africa in a positive way.”
Rupa & the April Fishes, Wednesday, July 13
“Rupa has just embarked on a full-time music career,” says Edgar of the band’s front woman, Rupa Marya, who previously balanced careers in music and medicine in San Francisco, and has played in Vermont previously. “She has a lot of new stuff in the works, and will be playing some new material with a really interesting and inspired energy.”
Bombino, Friday, July 22
“He’s the new world-music sensation,” says Edgar of the Tuareg guitarist. “He’s really crossed boundaries and reached out to people who are into jam bands and psychedelic guitar, but also people into African music.” Bombino has garnered global acclaim for his most recent Cumbancha album, Agadez, and seems poised to become a crossover star — later this summer he’s playing the Hollywood Bowl with Stevie Wonder and Janelle Monae. He also received a personal invitation from Dave Matthews to play his upcoming festival in Chicago. “He’s the new generation of Tuareg guitarist,” Edgar says.
In slightly more traditional Independence Day music musings, the fifth annual Fourth of July party on July Third at Speaking Volumes in Burlington is a go. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. One, it’s a little off the beaten path and away from the madness that is Burlington’s Waterfront Park, which means generally far fewer yahoos clad in tacky, flag-themed clothing. Two, it’s practically as choice a vantage point from which to witness the celebration of bombs bursting in air (fireworks) as are most of the other usual haunts — the waterfront, Battery Park, etc. And three, as per usual, the lineup of bands is pretty rad. This year’s roster includes Lazerdisk Party Sex’s DJ ZJ, Whale Boy, Basic Brains, Bless the Child and Parmaga.
While we’re on the subject of annual Fourth-related parties, the Screaming for Change Festival at the Hub Teen Center and Skate Park in Bristol gets under way this Friday. The two-day, all-ages hardcore hoedown is a benefit for the teen center and features more than 20 local and regional bands. Regular readers know how much I love hardcore and metal band names, so here are a few choice favorites: Strike Anywhere, Road Rage, Tired of Trying, Last Excuse, Sacred Love, Mouth of Flowers and Bullshit Tradition. Some other performances of note: Boston’s Maintain will play their farewell show on Friday, and Ghost Robot Ninja Bear and The New & Very Welcome GraveRobbers will play acoustic sets, also on Friday.
Congrats to local cassette-tape label NNA Tapes, which was named one of the six best tape labels in the country by Spin magazine this month. That’s quite an honor for Burlington’s little experimental label that could, and it comes on the heels of a number of positive clippings about their recent releases, including a couple from Pitchfork Media sister site Altered Zones.
Speaking of local experimental fare, our friends Lawrence Welks & Our Bear to Cross, after successfully avoiding eternal damnation in the wake of the Rapture That Never Was, have a nifty little underground show lined up in Burlington this Friday in honor of — I swear I’m not making this up — Princess Diana’s birthday. In addition to the Bible-humping grime-pop duo, both A Snake in the Garden and — love this next name — Evil Pit Bastards are slated to play. Of course, since it’s an underground show at an alt-venue, I’m not supposed to tell you where, exactly, it’s happening. But I’m sure industrious industrial noise fans can figure it out. Or, you know, just email one of the bands for the address.
Band Name of the Week: The Gang of Thieves. I first caught these guys when I served as a judge for a battle-of-the-bands competition at the Vermont Commons School a little more than a year ago. Without question, they were the most polished of the five high school acts on the bill that night — though it was later revealed that the band’s front man, Michael Reit, had actually graduated the year before. I’m not sure if that means the band should vacate their title, like the USC football team was recently forced to do. But I’m considering a ruling on that in the near future. In the meantime, GOT are set to release a new album this week, entitled Dinosaur Sandwich Party, which, were I to invent another fictional weekly award for best album name, would probably win. I have yet to hear it in its entirety, but the snippets available on the band’s website suggest it’s really starting to come into its own, building on the funky alt- and hard-rock leanings demonstrated on that fateful night in a cramped high school multipurpose room. Wash away your freedom hangover when the band plays Nectar’s this Tuesday, July 5.
Speaking of freedom, nothing says Fourth of July like some seriously soulful reggae. Fortunately, the run of big-ticket reggae shows at Club Metronome continues this week when Richie Spice drops the pressure this Monday. The Jamaican reggae star’s career has really taken off since leaving the Spice Girls in 2003 … OK, I’m now being told he wasn’t actually a Spice Girl. My bad. He is, however, one of Jamaica’s premier young reggae artists and the youngest of the legendary Bonner brothers. Spice is touring behind a new album, Book of Job, which is inspired by the biblical book of the same name.
I’m rarely at a loss for words, which is generally a good trait for a writer. But even I am not sure what to make of this PR blurb concerning Black Tiger Sex Machine, who perform at this week’s Sunday Night Mass at Metronome. Here it is, verbatim: “For several centuries the inhabitants of planet Tigra had no enemies until the day the Arachnos, a nomad tribe of giant spiders, invaded their planet. Fearing the devastating force of the Arachnos, the King of Tigra sent to Earth his strongest robot: the Sex Machine. The Sex Machine was a fallen soldier rebuilt into a robot whom no man could resist. All would fall under her spell before she killed them with superhuman strength and lightning quickness. Rarely seen on planet Tigra, the Sex Machine spent most nights in gloomy underground electro clubs looking for shady business. She never traveled without her pet, Black Tiger, a genetically modified feline. Together, they formed Black Tiger Sex Machine.” So, yeah … I think that means house music.
Last but not least, it’s almost time for the Ramble, the Old North End’s answer to that highfalutin Art Hop dealie in the South End. ONE artists and businesses interested in participating can grab sign-up sheets at Viva Espresso, Jamba’s Junktiques or Radio Bean.
Once again, this week’s totally self-indulgent column segment, in which I share a random sampling of what was on my iPod, turntable, CD player, 8-track player, etc., this week.