Posts Tagged ‘Higher Ground’

freshlyground in burlington tonight!

July 9, 2011

The Summer Global Music Voyage continues tonight at Higher Ground in Burlington! The second of four concerts features Freshlyground, a funk/groove/Afrobeat band from South Africa. It’s been quite a while since anything quite like this came to town. Ticket info >> here <<

sierra leone’s refugee all-stars in the house!

May 24, 2011

We’re lucky to have so much great music come to little ol’ Vermont. Tonight Sierra Leone’s Refugee All-Stars are playing at Higher Ground in Burlington. Doors at 7pm, show starts at 7:30.

Last time they came they filled up the room with a couple hundred dancing fans and some of the coolest grooves to hit the ballorom in a long time.

It’s not really luck that brings the Refugees here, their latest recording was released by Vermont’s own Cumbancha recording label. It was produced by the legendary New Orleans sound wizard Steve Berlin so it’s brassy, it’s a little r&b and a little bit reggae, and it’s all spunky spirit from the hearts and spirit of musicians with some very beautiful souls.

Recommended? Highly.

haiti – how to help

January 30, 2010

Another weekend, and a few more opportunities to help in the ongoing relief efforts in Haiti:

The Vermont Symphony Orchestra is joining efforts to raise funds for Partners in Health. The VSO is joining with other groups around the country in Symphonic Relief for Haiti, a worldwide effort to support the health community in Haiti through musical performances. Audiences are being encouraged to contribute at the concerts this weekend: last night at the Bellows Falls Opera House; this evening at the Flynn Theater in Burlington; and tomorrow afternoon at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland. There’s more info here on the contribution site.

Also, coming up tonight, Big Heavy World and The Radiator are hosting a showcase of local groups like the Dirtminers, Blowtorch, and Lowell Thompson at Higher Ground in Burlington. The fun gets underway at 8 and runs until around 1am, and all of the proceeds from the $15 admission door donations will go to benefit Doctors Without Borders.

Tomorrow the Students at Dartmouth for Haiti Relief (SDHR) continue their efforts (over $100K raised so far!) with a concert honoring the national music of Haiti. Compàs: The Haiti Relief Benefit is a  concert of Haitian music and student performances starting at 1:30 p.m. in Spaulding Auditorium. Tickets are $10 for students and $20 for community members with all proceeds benefiting Partners in Health.

And, for the music you can take with you, Vermont’s Cumbancha recording label and Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars announced this week that they’re donating 100% of the proceeds of an early release of the song “Global Threat” from the forthcoming album Rise & Shine to the International Rescue Committee for their Haitian earthquake relief efforts. The IRC is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian aid, relief, and resettlement to refugees and other victims of oppression or violent conflict. “Global Threat” will be available for a minimum donation of $1.00, although people are encouraged to contribute as much as they can. People who donate $100 or more will receive a physical and digital copy of the full Rise & Shine album as soon as they are available, weeks before the album’s official release date on March 23rd, 2010.

Filmmaker and band co-manager Zach Niles is in Haiti now to support Haitian journalists in their efforts to tell the story of the earthquake from a local perspective. Niles’ award-winning 2006 documentary Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars captured the group’s journey from Guinean refugee camps to the recording of their first album.

Good stuff, all the way around.

playlist #88 (11/9/2009)-nyquil for the soul

November 9, 2009
World of Music
Pgm #88 – Down with the flu blues – back by popular demand, this is the second annual flu season special. Songs of commiseration, consolation, and outright INDIGNANT OUTRAGE! If this don’t make you feel better, baby – you dead!
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)
Squirrel Nut Zippers: La Grippe (the Flu) / The Inevitable Squirrel Nut Zippers / Mammoth Records 105 – (USA) * At Higher Ground tomorrow night: *
Big Joe Tex: Pneumonia / Hip To The Jive 2 / Sonic Scenery 708021 – (USA)
Shasha Marley: Evil Spirits Walk Away / Lost & Found / 1229 – (GHANA)
Françoise Hardy: Comment te dire adieu? (It Hurts To Say Goodbye) / Divine Divas / Rounder 5071 – (FRANCE)
Rupa & The April Fishes: Ç’est Pas d’l’amour/ extraordinary rendition / Cumbancha 7 – (SAN FRANCISCO) * At Parima tonight, 8pm: *
Will Patton Ensemble: Valse 29 / 6th Street Runaround / King’s Hill Music 2008 – (MADE IN VERMONT)
Albert Collins & The Icebreakers: Dyin’ Flu / Alligator Records 30th Anniversary Collection / Alligator Records    112 – (USA)
Johnny Long: Healin’ Touch / Lost & Found / Delta Groove 106 – (ST. LOUIS, MO)
The Lost Fingers: Billy Jean / Lost In The ’80s / Sony 88697 – (QUÉBEC) *NEW*
Maria Bethânia: Feita na Bahia / Encanteria / Quitanda 18 – (BRAZIL) *NEW*
Los Silvertones: Tamborito Swing / Panama!2 / Soundway 13 – (PANAMA)
The Very Best: Chalo (World) / Warm Heart of Africa / Green Owl Records 8.98864 – (MALAWI / FRANCE / ENGLAND) *NEW*
Rocky Fuller: Funeral Hearse At My Door / Chess Blues / Chess Records 9340 – (USA)
Neville Brothers: Will The Circle Be Unbroken / Yellow Moon / A&M Records 5240 – (N’AWLINS)
Allen Toussaint: St. James Infirmary / The Bright Mississippi / Nonesuch 480380 – (N’AWLINS) *NEW*
Tom Waits: Cold, Cold Ground / Franks Wild Years / Island 422-842 – (USA)
Robert Cray: I Shiver / Blues Guitar Greats / Universal 314 556 719 – (USA)
Alex Cuba: Amor Infinito (Infinite Love) / Les Nuits d’Afrique Compilation 2007 / Les Nuits d’Afrique 2099 – (CUBA)
Omara Portuondo: Gracias / Gracias / World Village 479021 – (CUBA) * NEW – Latin Grammy winner, Best Contemporary Tropical Album *
Rupa & The April Fishes: La Linea (The Border) / Este Mundo / Cumbancha 15 – (SAN FRANCISCO) *NEW – at Parima tonight, 8pm: *
Aswad: Don’t Turn Around / Distant Thunder / Mango 9810 – (JAMAICA)
Mathieu Mathieu: Cette Ville / Québec / Putumayo 279 – (QUÉBEC)
Hot Club of Detroit: Belleville / Hot Club of Detroit / Mack Avenue Records 1030 – (DETROIT)
Paolo Conte: Happy Feet / The Best of Paolo Conte / Nonesuch 79512 / (ITALY)
Haugaard & Høirup: Raaby Hopsa (Traditional Danish stick dance) / Lys (Light) / GOØ 501 – (DENMARK)
Kermit Ruffins: Kermit’s Second Line / Kermit Ruffins / Putumayo 233 – (N’AWLINS)
Shemekia Copeland: Turn The Heat Up / Alligator Records 30th Anniversary Collection / Alligator Records    112 – (USA)
The Dirty Dozen Brass Band: Me Like It Like That & Kidd Jordon’s Second Line / The New Orleans Album / Columbia    45414 – (N’AWLINS)

sunday: four ‘f’s and a ‘u’

June 22, 2009
Cumbancha World Music

Cumbancha World Music, pre-party

The phrase “world class party” takes on a  whole new dimension of meaning, when you’re talking about a party at the Cumbancha headquarters.

By definition, “cumbancha” means ‘party’ – and that’s about all you need to know to get the scope of yesterday’s gathering.

The occasion? There were actually a few reasons, all of which contributed to the “Four F” theme of the day’s event: Father’s Day, the First day of summer; Fête de la Musique (the international day of music); and,…the fortieth birthday of Cumbancha founder Jacob Edgar. Any one of those excuses occasions (or none at all, actually) would have been reason enough, but with that many great vibes in the air it just had to happen.

It still surprises folks sometimes – even some who live in Vermont, and love world music – to learn that the quiet barn sitting there in the Charlotte countryside is Cumbancha’s offices. The label’s recordings have won top international acclaim and awards, and the artists it represents are from places as far away as Israel, Ivory Coast, Cuba, Peru, and…far beyond. I can tell you that your initial ‘quiet, pastoral’ impression of the place would be turned right around to be inside the place on any given Friday afternoon; hundreds of envelopes being stuffed and mailed, phonecalls often taking place in several different languages, and website and database and library work all being done at the same time. It takes a lot of work to be known on seven continents.

Movement of the People: the Fela Kuti Tribute project

Movement of the People: the Fela Kuti Tribute project (part of the archive in the background)

And the archive! Along with the business office, the barn also houses the combined recording library with Putumayo World Music of thousands of CDs from around the world. I’ve been volunteering and working part-time there for a couple of years now. I  haven’t looked for an ethnic recording yet that I haven’t been able to find, whether it’s from the Seychelles or Comoros Islands; Mali or New Zealand or Nicaragua or anywhere else . Everyone’s in there – it’s amazing.

Jake Shimabukuro

Jake Shimabukuro

So consider that this vast global cultural archive, floor to ceiling lining the interior walls of the barn, served as the backdrop for yesterday’s party: as Vermont’s own Movement of the People: Fela Kuti Tribute band laid down the funky Afrobeat groove for the afternoon, the international potluck table along one wall offered everything from Moroccan cous cous to steamed Bratwurst, to Greek salad and a lot of other colorful dishes I’d have to research to be able to identify, much less pronounce. Best just to try it all and not worry about what to call it. Good plan.

Jake playing an original, koto-inspired work:

Jake playing his original, koto-inspired work "Sakura"

How to follow up an afternoon like that?

The only answer I could come up with was: ukulele concert. So that’s what the evening held, as the four “f”s of the afternoon’s party were followed by the “u” of the evening’s show.

Jake Shimabukuro played at Higher Ground for a couple of hours last night in a charming and energetic set that happily included a generous amount of originals, and – of course – the George Harrison song that made Jake and his fearless ukulele an instant YouTube hit a couple of years ago…While My Guitar Gently Weeps. (Haven’t seen it yet? Over 3 million others have, and this is why. It is extraordinary.)

The ukulele sang sweetly like a koto, in Shimabukuro’s gently cherry blossom-flavored original Sakura, and it twanged along just as flatly in his bluegrassy Orange World. (That’s what happens when a young artist goes on tour with veterans like Bela Fleck and the Flecktones – it has a certain effect.) Shimabukuro has a keen ear for the characteristics that make instruments like the koto or the banjo unique, and his ability to adapt those voices to the ukulele is uncanny.

His technique and artistry on the instrument are unassailable. Likewise with his stage presence: warm and personal, creating a comfortable  environment for the intimate experience of a solo ukulele concert. The original compositions Shimabukuro played were somewhat less successful. Spirited, inspired (a word he uses often, and with good reason) and undoubtedly earnest in their intent,  the repetitive, often mono-dynamic, ‘call and response’ style characterizing many of them leaves some room for maturing and development.

It’s good he has something left to learn in the long career that surely lies ahead. As a 32-year old performer now he’s already done more as a musician than many do in a lifetime.

playlist #72 (5/25/2009)-memorial day, summertime, and mucho new music

May 25, 2009
World of Music
Pgm #72 – 5/25/09 – Memorial Day with Count Basie, Sammy Kaye, and Count Basie. Listening to international versions of “Summertime”, and lots of new music.
Listen online Mondays 3-5pm EDT at The Radiator
Nas with Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry: Wake Up (It’s Africa Calling) / Open Remix / – (download) – (USA / SENEGAL)
Count Basie & His Orchestra: For the Good of Your Country / I’m Beginning to See the Light / Columbia 14539 – (USA) *MEMORIAL DAY*
Hazmat Modine: Yesterday Morning (“Summertime”) / The Womexizer 07 / Womex 7 – (USA)
Hal McIntyre & His Orchestra featuring Jerry Stuart: This is the Army, Mr. Jones / Remember Pearl Harbor / RCA 63816 – (USA) *MEMORIAL DAY*
Sammy Kaye & His Orchestra: Remember Pearl Harbor / Remember Pearl Harbor / RCA 63816 – (USA) *MEMORIAL DAY*
Gabriel Allegria: Summertime / Nuevo Mundo / Saponegro 2007 – (PERU)
Cristina Branco: Secret Sensus / Decca 3225 – (PORTUGAL)
Novalima (EarthRise “Bedouin Breakdown” Mix): Se Me Van / Coba Coba Remixed / Cumbancha 11 – (PERU) *NEW (SNEAK PREVIEW) – to be released on 6/16*
Alicia Villareal: Ladron / Soy Lo Prhobido / Universal 440 014 824 – (MEXICO)
Kronos Quartet feat. Ljova: Oh Mother, the Handsome Man Tortures Me (Trad. Iraqi song) / Floodplain / Nonesuch 518349 – (IRAQ/SAN FRANCISCO) *NEW*
Chen Jie-bing: Eve’s Night / Spirit on Two Strings (vol. 1) / Wind Records 1001 – (CHINA)
East West: Summertime / East West / EW 1080 – (JAPAN/SAN DIEGO) *NEW*
Café Tacuba: El Aparato / Re / WEA 967842 – (MEXICO)
Otra: Con Otra in New Orleans / Todo Pa’La Gente / Otra 2004 – (N’AWLINS)
Jake Shimabukuro: Spain /Live / Hitchike Records 1109 – (USA) *NEW* – *NEW* – In Burlington on 6/21 at Higher Ground:
Omara Portuondo & Richard Bona: Drume Negrita / Gracias World Village 479021 – (CUBA) *NEW*
Café de L’Art: Kapaboteakiemata vol. 5 / Eros Music 2952 – (GREECE)
Pato Banton & The Mystic Roots Band: Niceness / Positive Vibrations / PB 2007 – (UK/JAMAICA) * At the Discover Jazz Festival World Music Tent on Sat. June 13th @ 5: … ulture.php *
Pink Martini: Tempo Perdido / Hey Eugene! / Heinz Records 3 – (USA) * At the Discover Jazz Festival (Flynn Main Stage) on Sat. June 13th @ 8: … artini.php *
Grace Kelly: It Might As Well Be Spring / Mood Changes / Pazz Productions 16 – (USA) * At the Discover Jazz Festival on Sat. June 13th @ 8:30: … -kelly.php *
Andy Palacio & The Garifuna Collective: Weyu Lárigi Weyu (Day By Day) / Hear Globally / Cumbancha 91 – (BELIZE) *NEW COLLECTION*
Roswell Rudd & Toumani Diabaté: Sena et Mariam (“Summertime”) / MALICool / Soundscape 3008 – (MALI/USA)
Ofra Haza: Im Nin’ Alu (Trad. Yemenite Song) / Shaday / Sire 25816 – (ISRAEL)
Danielle Martineau: Le Quadrille des Homards / Les Secrets du Vent / DAMA 401 – (CANADA)
Maria de Barros: Funana Ca Tem Frontera / Morabeza / Sheer Group 2009 – (CAPE VERDE) *NEW*
Gangbé Brass Band: Un été à Vodelée (A Summer in Vodelée) / Assiko / Contre Jour 21 – (BENIN)
Glenn Miller & His Orchestra w/Tex Beneke, Marion Hutton, & The Modernaires: When Johnny Comes Marching Home / Remember Pearl Harbor / RCA 63816 – (USA) *MEMORIAL DAY*

the ‘other’ barefoot diva

May 22, 2009
5/21/09-Maria de Barros

5/21/09-Maria de Barros (bad pic but a lovely lady!)

Maria de Barros is the god-daughter of Cape Verde’s legendary Cesaria Evora, whose comfortable presence and symbolically shoeless performance style has earned her the nickname, “the barefoot diva”.

In last night’s show, the shoes (Maria’s) came off before the first song had even hit the chorus. It took a little while for everyone in the typically polite and reserved (Vermont) audience to come around, but by the end of the evening the chairs were pushed aside and discarded shoes lined the floor at the bottom of the stage as Higher Ground’s Showcase Lounge erupted in a world-class dance party. 2009-May21-MariaDeBarros03

Maria de Barros and her band sang and danced a warm musical embrace in a performance that exuded “morabeza” – an adjective, she said, that describes the kind hospitality and characteristically generous spirit of people from her native Cape Verde.

No surprise, then, that Morabeza is also the title of her brand new recording.

The show itself blended tunes from the new release, along with some from de Barros’ two previous recordings. Every song was sung in Portuguese, but their individual styles were as diverse as the wide cultural and historical crossroads of the West African islands themselves.

In a little over two hours, the mood bounced naturally from lilting samba and reggae grooves to emotionally infused morna love songs, and – de Barros’ specialty – outright party music in Cape Verde’s native coladeira style. Her light voice, bright smile, and radiant stage presence were a good match for the feel of the music.

2009-May21-MariaDeBarros02I would like to have heard more from some of the individual band members. The acoustic guitarist had a little solo time in the light, as did the the percussionist. The ukulele-reminiscent cavaquinho is a curious instrument native to this kind of music, and it’s an unusual enough sight in this part of the world that it could have been featured and highlighted more than it was to give another dimension to the performance. Nice to hear (and see) it played, nonetheless.

Near the end of the concert I ran into a couple of friends who had also attended Mariza’s amazing show, back in March. Though Mariza and de Barros both sing in Portuguese, and de Barros’ style can be considered “fado informed”, it’s not truly fado music. So deeper comparisons can’t really be made between the two. My friend and I agreed; listening to these two is better thought of like appreciating the special, individual qualities of two different wines: if Mariza is port, then surely de Barros’ lighter, tropical-flavored style is Viñho Verde.

Is it a coincidence, this comparison of a ‘barefoot diva’ to wine, and wine’s inevitable associations with barefoot grape-stomping? Nah. Like spending an evening with an artist of Maria de Barros’ caliber, it’s purely intentional even if the results are happily unexpected.

Last night’s concert was the latest in the ongoing Cumbancha/Putumayo World Music series at Higher Ground, next one’s coming up on July 7th: Nigeria’s pioneering King Sunny Ade and His African Beats!

For further listening: I like Morabeza, but for the choice of tunes and the blend of instruments I probably still prefer her earlier Dança Ma Mi (“Dance With Me” – 2005, Narada Records). Try both, you sure can’t go wrong.

cape verde in burlington

May 21, 2009
Maria de Barros (Photo: Johnny Fernandes)

Maria de Barros (Photo: Johnny Fernandes)

The day’s finally arrived, after months of anticipation – Cape Verdean singer Maria de Barros is in town for a show tonight! She’s on tour now with the new recording “Morabeza”, which was partly recorded here in Vermont at the Charles Ellers Studios.

She’s the god-daughter of Cape Verdean legend Cesaria Evora, carrying forward in that Portuguese fado-inspired tradition and bringing her own upbeat style to the music as well.

Ready to dance? Me too. What a way to launch summertime!


Doors at 7:30pm, the show starts at 8 in the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge. Click here for ticket/accessibility info.

playlist: #71 (5/18/09)-new releases

May 18, 2009
World of Music
Pgm #71 – 5/18/09 – What’s new? Listen up here and find out.
Listen online Mondays 3-5pm EDT at The Radiator
Abou Chihabi: Lewo! Lewo! / Folkomor Ocean / Playsound 65188 – (COMOROS ISLANDS)
Alicia Villareal: Pepe Le Pew / Cuando el se Cruza / Universal B0002264 – (MEXICO)
Gotan Project: Santa Maria / World Lounge / Putumayo 198 – (FRANCE/ARGENTINA)
Maria de Barros: Tabanka di Txada Grandi / Morabeza / Sheer Group 2009 – (CAPE VERDE, AFRICA) *NEW* – Maria de Barros in concert this Thu. Evening at Higher Ground: *
Nat King Cole (mixed by Cut Chemist): Day In Day Out / Nat King Cole RE: Generations / Capitol 2009 – (USA) *NEW*
El Tanbura: Zayy El Nhardah (The Canal Song) / Between The Desert and The Sea / World Village 450002 – (EGYPT) *NEW*
Black Koldmadina: Amazing / Trouble The Water / BKM 1 – (N’AWLINS) *NEW*
Miles From India: All Blues / Miles From India / Times Square Records 1808 – (USA/INDIA) * Miles From India at the Montreal Jazz Festival on July 4th: … px?id=9090 *
Pink Martini: Sympathique / World Lounge / Putumayo 198 (USA) * Pink Martini at the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival on June 13th: … artini.php *
David Lowe’s Dreamcatcher: Sadhu / What…is Inbetween? / Oval 601 – (UK/JAPAN)
Agnese Manganaro: Ferma e Piccola / Mille Petali / Irma Records 846 – (ITALY) *NEW*
Chango Spasiuk: Tierra Colorada / Pynandi / World Village 468083 – (ARGENTINA) *NEW*
Boogie Balagan: Dalida Blooz / Lamentation Walloo / Warner Music France 5101179512 – (FRANCE/ISRAEL/PALESTINE)
Gu Guanren: Peking Opera Melody: Flowing Water / Phases of the Moon / Sony 36705 – (CHINA)
The Idan Raichel Project: Chalomot Shel Acherim / Within My Walls / Cumbancha 10 – (ISRAEL) *NEW*
Calypso Rose (featuring Soft/Fred Deshayes): Summertime / Calypso Rose / CMG 2308 – (TOBAGO)
Africando All-Stars: Son Fo / Baila! / Putumayo 251 – (S. AFRICA)
Culture Music Club: Ni Yeye (It’s Him) / Shime! / World Village 468080 – (TANZANIA) *NEW*
Los Coronas: Secret Agent Man / Surfin’ Tenochtitlan / Isotonic Records 97 – (SPAIN)
Claudia Acuña: El Cigarrito / En Este Momento / Marsalis Music 74946 – (CHILE) *NEW*
Daby Touré & Skip McDonald: Riddem / Call My Name / Real World Music 37005 – (USA/MAURITANIA) *NEW*
ABC Bossa: Garota de Ipanema (The Girl From Ipanema) / Evolucion / VND Records 2007 – (ARGENTINA)
Ladysmith Black Mambazo: Let’s Do It / Ilembe: Our Tribute to King Shaka / Gallo Records 5051442 – (S. AFRICA)
Mamer: Kargashai & Flute Song / Eagle / Real World Music 884108 – (CHINA)
Willie Colón: Narcomula / El Malo vol. 11: Prisoneros del Mambo / Lone Wolf 804 – (PUERTO RICO) *NEW*

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