Archive for December, 2009

new year’s eve

December 31, 2009

Not too bad.

Yesterday morning the thermometer read -12°F when I got up. This morning the mercury (or actually, the impervious red liquid stuff – whatever that is) hovers right around 18°. Think of it – a difference of 30 degrees in just a day, all without cracking the 20°F-mark.

If it never warms up to more than 18° today, it will still be around 20° warmer than the last New Year’s eve. But, in the best New England tradition of just dealing with whatever comes along, I can report firsthand that the finger-numbing cold and nose-closing bitter winds didn’t hinder last year’s First Night celebrations for a minute.

Yeah, it meant lingering inside for a good while after dinner and only getting down to the street for the parade when the first marchers could be visually verified rounding the corner onto Main Street. Must…conserve…energy…must…

A half hour and a couple (a few) of Irish coffees later – different restaurant – the 9pm fireworks were rumoured to be starting. Then it was time to dash across the street over to the State House lawn and take a  place standing in the 2+-feet snowbanks to watch with wonder as each falling flake was illuminated against the nighttime sky in the shifting colors of the roman candles and showers of fire overhead. Fantastic.

First Night traditionally brings Vermont’s top musicians and entertainers out in a single-night, statewide display of everything from storytelling to circus acts, magic, imaginative  Bread and Puppet creations, and of course, music! What fun. Not sure what the evening holds yet, but with last year’s experience in Montpelier still fresh in my memory I’m thinking a First Night celebration somewhere is probably going to be part of the mix tonight.

Everyone has a different experience, leave a comment here to share your First Night memories.

First Night is tonight in…


St. Johnsbury

and Burlington

playlist #95 (12/28/2009)-international new year dance party

December 30, 2009
World of Music
Pgm #95 – International dance party to ring in 2010, happy New Year!
Listen Mondays 3-5pm EDT  – at 105.9FM in Burlington, VT or online at The Radiator
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix / – (download) – (USA / SENEGAL)
Pelay: Happy New Year / Christmas Lucian Style / VCD 339 – (WEST INDIES)
Cecilia Noël: El Cumbanchero / A Gozár / Compass Records 4501 – (PERU) *New – 2009 release*       
Palmeras Kanibales
: La Culebra / La Liga / Mamut Records 2009 – (VENEZUELA) *New – 2009 release*
Dukes of Dixieland: Holiday Time in New Orleans / New Orleans Christmas / Putumayo 256 – (N’AWLINS)
Oumou Sangare: Soun Soumba / Seya / Nonesuch / 519650 (MALI) – *New – 2009 release*
The Lost Fingers: Pump Up the Jam / Lost in the ’80s / Sony 88697556082 – (QUÉBEC) *New – 2009 release*
Novalima: Tumbala / Coba Coba Remixed / Cumbancha 11 – (PERU) *New – 2009 release*
Puerto Candelaria: Muerta / Puerta Candelaria / Merlín Studios 2009 (COLOMBIA) *New – 2009 release*
Kiran Ahluwlia: Vo Kuch (Passion) / India / Putumayo 288 – (INDIA) *New – 2009 release*
Syran Mbenza & Ensemble Rumba Kongo: Beyou Motema / Immortal Franco: Africa’s Unrivalled Guitar Legend / Riverboat 1050 – (CONGO) *New – 2009 release*
Rupa & The April Fishes: Culpa de la Luna (Blame it on the Moon) / Este Mundo / Cumbancha 15 – (SAN FRANCISCO) *New – 2009 release*
Willie Colón: Héctor Lavoe Medley / El Malo II: Prisoneros del Mambo / Lone Wolf 804 (PUERTO RICO) – *New – 2009 release*
Color de Rumba: Lando por Bagdad / Cassava / Cassava Latin Rhythms 9 – (TORONTO) *New – 2009 release*
K’Naan: People Like Me / Troubadour / A&M Octone 12478 – (SOMALIA) *New – 2009 release*
Tinariwen: Imidiwan / Afrik Temdam / Imidiwan (Companions) / World Village 468096 – (MALI) *New – 2009 release*
Martina Camargo: Me Robaste El Sueño / Canto, Palo y Cuero / Chico World Music 2009 (COLOMBIA) *New – 2009 release*
Amsterdam Klezmer Band: Vesna / Re-Tour Mexico 2009 Anthology / Muziek Centrum Nederland 2009 – (NETHERLANDS) *New – 2009 release*
Minino Garay: Que Lo Pario! / Que Lo Pario! / Naïve 145176 – (ARGENTINA) *New – 2009 release*
Akim El Sikameya: Chouia L’Mon Coeur / Introducing Akim El Sikameya / World Music Network 113 – (ALGERIA / FRANCE) *New – 2009 release*
11 Acorn Lane: Le Sexe au Téléphone (Redial remix) / Painting Coconuts /  2009 – (FRANCE) *New – 2009 release*
Elisete: Le de Longe (From far away) / Minhas Cores / 2009 – (ISRAEL / BRAZIL) *New – 2009 release*
Johnny Cunningham & Friends: Auld Lang Syne / The Spirit of Christmas / North Star Music 118 – (SCOTLAND)
Ivan Lins: Novo Tempo – Fim de Ano / Um Novo Tempo / Abril Music 1107019 – (BRAZIL)
Lightning Hopkins: Happy New Year / Blue Yule / Rhino 70568 – (USA)
Michael Doucet: Auld Lang Syne / It’s Snowing All Over the World / Rock River Records 105 – (N’AWLINS)

new year’s coming

December 27, 2009

We’re ringing in the new year with an international dance party on this week’s World of Music.

I have no idea where the journey will take us, but I can promise we’ll cut some grooves and check out some of the year’s hottest world music releases.

World of Music is a glittering, ball-dropping mix of blues, jazz, poetry, and world music every Monday from 3-5pm ET on the Radiator.  Online, or at 105.9FM if you’re listening in Burlington, VT.

the “decade’s” best

December 26, 2009

"Father Time" engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi (circa 1470)

Is it purely pendantic? Or, a mere matter of semantics? I don’t think so.

I know it’s not that folks can’t count, and I’m convinced it’s not a simple matter of mass delusion, either. Although that explanation may actually come closer to the truth than anything else.

What else accounts for the curious phenomena of premature celebration that happens every time the calendar approaches a new decade or century (or millennium)?

Think back to the buildup to the year 2000. Yes, it was certainly something to be alive at a time when we went from noting the year in “19s” to “20s”. It felt special. It was special. But despite the misinformation that many sources kept pushing out, I hold with the camp that the year 2000 was NOT the beginning of the new century NOR the new millennium. That did not happen until the big silver ball in Times Square dropped a year later, at the start of 2001.

(Funny, but I’d swear I can actually hear the sound of eyes rolling right now! Bear with me. Please.)

So here we are at the end of 2009 and the “end of the first decade of the new millennium” lists have already started appearing, even though we still have a whole year ahead before the first decade actually ends. That’s all fine and well, in a sense – a lot of remarkable music and art has been created in the last nine years. It should be acknowledged. But before we can start creating these definitive “best of the first decade” lists, shouldn’t we give the final year of this decade a chance to make its mark first? Who knows WHAT will happen in 2010? It would be a shame to categorically exclude 2010’s contributions because all of the surveys happened a year early, here at the end of 2009.

It is a bit surprising how widespread the “2009-is-the-end-of-the-first-decade” buzz actually is among some fairly high profile media and pop culture contributors, like these:

– From WBUR, the On Point program from this past week devoted to “The End of the ’00s” (which is true, we are coming to the end of the years marked by an ‘0’. That does NOT make the end of 2009 the end of the millennium’s first decade! Come on, Tom, we expect better journalism from you.)

– From NPR, The Decade’s 50 Most Important Recordings (whose introductory paragraph begins with this erroneous opening statement, “With the first decade of the new millennium coming to a close, we decided to compile a list of the 50 most important recordings of the past 10 years…” )

…and then there are also the regular ol’ “end of the decade lists”, here are a few:

– WNYC’s program Soundcheck, reviewing the Decade in Jazz and World music

– From the Guardian UK, The Observer Music Monthly’s Top 50 Albums of the Decade

– ABC News’ “End of the Decade” survey

Personally I advocate celebrating the beginning of every new year like it’s the new millennium. Calendars are just another relatively meaningless form of subjective, human-designed time management anyway, right? And life itself is reason enough to celebrate. But in the effort of consistency (and acknowledging the indisputable fact that we’ve universally accepted the Gregorian calendar to keep track of our time) I’m not sure why, as a society, we’d consciously choose to stop short on this not insignificant point of accuracy: the second millennium’s first decade does not conclude until Dec. 31st, 2010.

Best wishes to you for the new year, starting later this week, and for the start of the millennium’s second decade – when it arrives a year from now.


  • Celebrating the start of the new millennium in 2001 may have been accurate, but you may recall it was far from being the popular position. Douglas Adams approached the topic in his own, typically wry way: check out Adams’ “timeline” of millennial celebrations.
  • As the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke would seem a natural expert on the topic. He celebrated the start of the new millenium on Jan. 1, 2001 at his home in Sri Lanka
  • Australia’s prime minister John Howard was voted “biggest party pooper of the century” by many of the country’s newspapers, when he advocated for national millennial celebrations to be scheduled for new year’s eve on Dec. 31st, 2000. Love that!

Ed. NOTE, 12/31/09: Just to be clear, the problem here is not someone stating that Dec. 31st, 2009 is the “end of a decade”. By definition, a “decade” is a ten-year period of time. Any 10-year period. Feel free to claim the “end of a decade” every Dec. 31st if you need to hang on to that milestone to create a “best of” music list, or for any other reason you choose. BUT – Dec. 31st, 2009 is NOT the “end of the first decade of this millennium“. That’s where the declamation runs an indisputable factual roadblock…we have another year to enjoy the first decade of the second millennium, so let’s just relax, hold off on the “best of the first decade of the second millennium” surveys for now and let’s see what the next year has in store for us. Around this time next year, we can take a look back with the full perspective of 10 years time and assess what the “best of” lists should hold as we review the first decade of the millennium. Happy new year!

world beat music

December 22, 2009

James Plakovic’s “World Beat Music” map, published by Wild About Music, Inc. and available here.

playlist #94 (12/21/2009)-mo’ holidays & 2009 year-end review

December 21, 2009
World of Music
Pgm #94 – Holiday sounds & 2009 year-end review (pt. III)
Listen Mondays 3-5pm EDT  – at 105.9FM in Burlington, VT or online at The Radiator
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix / (download) – (USA / SENEGAL)
El Pacto: La Caravana / La Liga (Latin artist music sampler) / Mamut Produciones 2009 – (VENEZUELA) *2009 RELEASE*
Marta Gómez: Como Un Secreto / Entre Cada Palabra / Chesky 301 – (COLOMBIA) *2009 RELEASE*
Ismael Rivera: Navidad de Nuevo / Feliz Navidad / Fania 773130180 – (PUERTO RICO)
Pelay: Carnival or Christmas / Christmas Lucian Style / VCD 339 – (ST. LUCIAN, WEST INDIES)
11 Acorn Lane: Le Sexe Au Téléphone / Painting Coconuts / 2009 – (FRANCE) *2009 RELEASE*
Emily Loizeau: The Princess and The Toad / Pays Sauvage / Opendisc 531407 – (FRANCE) *2009 RELEASE*
Les Triaboliques: Black Earth Boys / rivermudtwilight / World Village 468088 –  (UK/WORLD FUSION) *2009 RELEASE*
A.R. Rahman & Chinmayee: Tere Bina / India / Putumayo 288 – (INDIA) *2009 RELEASE*
Woody Phillips: Ding Dong Merrily on High / A Toolbox Christmas / Gourd Music 124 – (USA)
Oliver Lake Steel Quartet: Santa Baby / Have Yourself A Merry… / Passin’ Thru Records 41216 – (USA)
Houseman (from Galactic): Pimp My Sleigh / Christmas Gumbo / Flambeau Records 3344 – (N’AWLINS)
Sinsemilia: Le Retour des Cowboys / En Quête de Sens / 2009 – (FRANCE) *2009 RELEASE*
Agnese Manganaro: Ferma e Piccola / Mille Petali / Irma Records 846 – (ITALY) *2009 RELEASE*
Looking ahead to 2010 – three new releases coming out soon in the new year:
Ulla Pirttijärvi: Leammi / Arctic Paradise / Arctic 2010 – (FINLAND) *2010 PREVIEW*
Angelique Kidjo: Kelele / Oyo / (demo) N/A – (BENIN) *2010 PREVIEW*
Razia Said: Omama (sung in the native language of Betsimisaraka) / Zebu Nation / Cumbancha Discovery (demo) – (MADAGASCAR) *2010 PREVIEW*
Ingrid Lucia: Zat You, Santa Claus? / New Orleans Christmas / Putumayo 256 – (N’AWLINS)
Sarah Taylor & Bill Mumy: I’ve Got Some Presents for Santa / I’ve Got Some Presents for Santa / Rhino 74447 –  (USA)
HK Crew featuring K11NA: Tatangi (Jingle Bells) / Meri Kirihimete / Jayrem Records 389 – (NEW ZEALAND)
Cyril Pahinui: Mele Kalikimaka / Kihō’alu Christmas / Dancing Cat Records 38037 – (HAWAII)
Solly Burton: Greensleeves / Oasis Acoustic Radio Sampler / Oasis Volume VIII #6 – (USA)
Enzo Avitabile: Amaro Nunn’êss”a Essere Màje / Enzo Avitabile in Napoletana / Folk Club Ethnosuoni 5378 – (ITALY) *2009 RELEASE*
Maria do Barros: Funana Ca Tem Frontera / Morabeza / Sheer Group 2009 – (CAPE VERDE) *2009 RELEASE*
MC Yogi featuring Krishna Das: Rock On Hanuman / Elephant Power / White Swan Records 83 – (INDIA) *2009 RELEASE*
Los Straitjackets: Let It Snow / Tis The Season For Los Straitjackets / YepRoc 2041 – (NASHVILLE)
Daby Touré & Skip McDonald: Riddem / Call My Name / Real World Records 37005 – (MAURITANIA / USA) *2009 RELEASE*
Maria Bethânia: Feita Na Bahia / Encanteria / Quitauda 18 – (BRAZIL)  *2009 RELEASE*
Ivan Lins:  Boas Festas / Um Novo Tempo / Abril Music 1107019 – (BRAZIL)
Gary Walker & The Boogie Kings: Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag / Louisiana Christmas / Jin 9039 –  (N’AWLINS)
Gipsy Kings: Navidad / World Christmas / Metro Blue 36928 – (SPAIN)

songs for the solstice & christmas

December 21, 2009

Christmas music from around the (snow) globe today on World of Music, along with the third installment of our month-long survey of the sounds of 2009.

Sarah Taylor and Bill Mumy light up this dark winter solstice afternoon  up with their 1994 classic, “I’ve Got Some Presents for Santa”, and we’ll get a sneak preview of three recordings coming out in the new year: 2010 will bring new ones from Benin’s Angelique Kidjo, Madagascar’s Razia Said, and an anthology of Finnish folk music.

World of Music is festive, dance-inducing mix of blues, jazz, poetry, and world music every Monday from 3-5pm ET on the Radiator. You can join the fun online or at 105.9FM if you’re listening in Burlington, VT.

trading fours: holidays

December 20, 2009

Seriously busy week here. No time to catch any live music – or, write about it. Or do much of anything outside of keeping on top of the landslide that always seems to happen in the last couple of weeks of the year. You too, I’m sure. So let’s give ourselves a little time out here and talk music.

It’s been a while since we ‘traded fours’. Before the year completely gets away from us – again – I thought we’d check in and see what ideas we could cook up here for a late-December listening session.

This is the time of the year for that popular question, “what are your favorite holiday recordings?” We all have a few, and I can tell you, I have a LOT more than four. As a child of the ’70s I’d have to put Elvis’ Blue Christmas, John Denver’s Muppet Christmas (yes, really), and Luciano Pavarotti’s Christmas recordings on the list of sentimental faves. I also became very fond of the Gene Autry recording. My mom played it a lot because that’s the one she grew up with. Add to that the scores of recordings I’ve discovered and made part of the yearly tradition since then.

But I think I can pick four holiday recordings to share with you here, and maybe I’ll throw in a few more later on. I hope you will too  – leave a comment here if you’d like. For this “trading fours” session we’ll start with a few classical suggestions:

#1 – The Baltimore Consort: “Bright Day Star” – With everything from “Ding Dong Merrily On High” to the “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day” and the Wassail song, what makes this one different from all the other versions of those pieces? The simplicity of the arrangements, the purity of Custer LaRue’s voice, the exciting virtuosity and nimbleness of the Consort itself, and the sheer joy that comes through in every singing, dancing bar of this wonderful recording. This one’s a “must have”.

#2 – The Boston Camerata & Sharq Arabic Ensemble/Joel Cohen: “A Mediterranean Christmas” – Two years ago around this time I attended a concert here with the Boston Camerata. It was right after they had released this recording. I couldn’t wait. And while the music was just as transcendent and gorgeous as I had hoped it would be, what I’ll never forget about the experience was Joel Cohen’s remarks in the program notes, wherein he mentioned that this is the music to remind us that Christ was born in the desert, surrounded by palm – not evergreen – trees. The recording features traditional Spanish/Arabic music from the 12th -16th centuries, and the special percussion and mid-eastern vocals the Sharq Arabic Ensemble brings to the mix is guaranteed to warm even the coldest days of late December. I can’t remember what Christmas was like before this musical revelation came along.

#3 – The Dale Warland Singers/Dale Warland: “December Stillness” – This one lives up to its name and then some. It’s the perfect reflective antidote to the busy-ness of the season. Two favorite tracks are Alf Houkoum’s recently written work, “Rune of Hospitality”, and Stephen Heitzig’s poignant setting of the ee cummings poem, “Little Tree”. December Stillness will wipe the discord of jangling bells, the bombast of 300-voice choirs blaring bland Christmas carols, and the artificiality of our 21st c. world right out of your consciousness. This is a recording that speaks to the mystery, wonder, and snow-covered quietude of our midwinter world.

#4 – The Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir/Paul Hillier: “A New Joy” – Austerity and the pure power of the human voice are the hallmarks of this exquisite recording, along with a rich repertoire from the Eastern Orthodox tradition that so rarely is heard here in the West. With composers like Grechaninov, Kastsalky, Izvekov, and Stensenko – A New Joy promises a listening experience that light years away from the usual Christmas fare. You’ll recognize Rachmaninoff’s “Blessed is the Man” from the Vespers, and certainly the Ukrainian carol (the “Carol of the Bells”) will be a familiar melody. Otherwise be prepared to surrender yourself to the other-worldly sound of the very fine Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir and their vision of an Orthodox Christmas.

That’s it for today, and I hope enjoy them if you take some time to explore these suggestions. Don’t let the white noise of busy-ness keep you from the joys of the season. Cheers!

Trading Fours is an occasional series here designed to build your music library and share ideas about favorite recordings, in the long tradition of learning about music from friends. If you have picks to share leave a comment here. Send me your four choices along with a quick explanation of the theme that holds them together. I’ll post here to share with everyone else.

playlist #93 (12/14/2009)-holidays & 2009 review

December 14, 2009
World of Music
Pgm #93 – Holiday sounds & 2009 year-end review (pt. II)
Listen Mondays 3-5pm EDT  – at 105.9FM in Burlington, VT or online at The Radiator
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix / (download) – (USA / SENEGAL)
Michael Doucet: It Came Upon A Midnight Clear / Christmas Bayou / Swallow 6064 – (N’AWLINS)
Catarina Cardeal & Mike Siracusa: Noite Feliz / Sounds of the Season /CBC 3018 – (PORTUGAL / CANADA)
Liuba Maria Hevia: Venid Fieles Todos (Adeste Fideles) / Christmas Around the World / Putumayo 218 – (HAITI)
Singing Francine: The Christmas Clock / Parang Parang / PCD 2408 – (TRINIDAD)
Alton Ellis: Christmas Coming / Reggae Christmas From Studio One / Heartbeat 118 – (JAMAICA)
Novalima (EarthRise “Bedouin Breakdown” Mix): Se Me Van / Coba Coba Remixed / Cumbancha 11 – (PERU)
Sarazino: Mundo Babilón 2 / Ya Foy! / Cumbancha 13 – (ECUADOR / CANADA)
Rupa & The April Fishes: Espero La Luna (Waiting for the Moon) / Este Mundo / Cumbancha 15 – (SAN FRANCISCO)
Kailash Kher & Kailasa: Dilruba (Beloved) / Yatra (Nomadic Souls) / Cumbancha 14 – (INDIA)
Idan Raichel Project featuring Maya Avraham: Shev (Stay) / Within My Walls / Cumbancha 10 – (ISRAEL)
Kimi Djabaté: Fatu (Tribute to Fatunata) / Karam / Cumbancha 12 – (GUINEA BISSAU)
Papi Brandao y Sus Ejecutivos: Decidede Mi Amor / Panamá! 2 / Soundway 13 – (PANAMÁ)
Akim El Sikameya: Chouia L’Mon Coeur / Introducing Akim El Sikameya / World Music Network 113 – (ALGERIA)
Claudia Acuña: El Cigarrito / En Este Momento / Marsalis Music 74946-10 – (CHILE)
Giorgio Conte: Balla Con Me (Dance With Me) / Italia / Putumayo 290 – (ITALY)
Martina Camargo: La Tambora de Cayetano / Canto, Palo y Cuero / Chico World Music 2009 – (COLOMBIA)
The Baileys: Star of the County Down / A Song for Ireland / Toucan Cove Entertainment 1105 – (IRELAND)
Susan McKeown & Lorin Sklamberg: Buenos Aires / Saints & Tzadiks / World Village 468089 – (IRELAND / USA)
Isabelle Georges & The Sirba Octet:  Basarabye / From the Shtetl to New York / Ambroisie 173 – (FRANCE)
Allen Toussaint: Long, Long Journey / The Bright Mississippi / Nonesuch 480380 – (N’AWLINS)
Tony Whedon & PoJazz: Things to Pray to in Vermont / PoJazz: Live at the Black Door / – (MADE IN VT)
Maria Bethânia: Guriatã / Tua (You) / Biscoito Fino 914 – (BRAZIL)
Minino Garay: Poder Decib Te Amo / Que Lo Pario! / Naïve 145176 – (ARGENTINA)
Elisete: Fantasy / Minhas Cores / 2009 – (ISRAEL)
Rodrigo Chávez: La Vida Simple / Color de Rumba / Cassava 9 – (TORONTO)
La Severa Matacera: Horny and Free-To / V.I.S.A. / Kallpa Records 2009 – (COLOMBIA)
The Lost Fingers: Straight Up / Lost In The ’80s / Sony 88697556082 – (QUÉBEC)

mid-diciembre musica

December 12, 2009

It’s Christmas on the bayou…and in Jamaica…and in Portugal, Trinidad, and Haiti…

World of Music will feature music from the winter holidays and seasonal sounds from around this festive ol’ globe, along with a continuing review of some of 2009’s best world music releases.

We’ll check out all SIX of this year’s new releases from Vermont’s own Cumbancha recording label, along with the latest sounds and artists from Colombia, Cape Verde, India, and many other places.

World of Music is a-wassailing, eggnog-chugging mix of blues, jazz, poetry, and world music every Monday from 3-5pm ET on the Radiator. You can join the fun online or at 105.9FM if you’re listening in Burlington, VT.

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