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    A tribute to Rachid Taha

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 18/09/2018

    » Rachid Taha, the iconoclastic and rebellious singer from Algeria, died last week in a Paris suburb. He was 59 years old. He had emigrated to France at the age of 10 with his family and emerged in the early 1980s with his band Carte de Sejour, which he founded in 1980 in Lyon. In 1986, he made waves with a cynical, mocking cover of chanson icon Charles Trenet's song, Douce France (Sweet France). Adding Arabic oud and drums and jumping into the song with a punkish snarl and biting (new) lyrics, this song set the tone for his entire career.


    Beating the rainy-season blues

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 04/09/2018

    » The rainy season is upon us. The clouds roll in and a murky gloom descends; floods in the provinces, traffic jams in Bangkok. And, as we get to the months that often have the most rainfall -- September and October -- many here in the capital wonder if it will be as bad as the catastrophic floods of 2011.


    Her soul is immortal

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 21/08/2018

    » Singer, composer, social activist and "Queen of Soul" Aretha Franklin died last week. She was 76 years old. I was spinning vinyl last week at a DJ night when the news filtered through. I didn't have any of her music with me but nonetheless let everyone know that one of the greats had gone; cue to clubbers quickly searching on their smart phones for news on the First Lady of Soul.


    Likay lives on

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 07/08/2018

    » My first experience of popular theatre in Thailand was a likay performance in the main market in Chumpon. I had not been in Thailand for long and was on my way back from a trip to Malaysia, travelling by local bus and train.


    Sounds celebrating Mandela centenary

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 24/07/2018

    » This month World Beat joins the international celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, anti-apartheid activist and visionary leader. Mandela was born on July 18, 1918, and passed away on Dec 5, 2013, having served 27 years in prison for his resistance to the racist apartheid system then operating in South Africa.


    Musical archaeology

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 10/07/2018

    » James Cagney is regarded as one of the first gangster tough guys of Hollywood. Films like The Public Enemy (1931) made him a big star and his tough-guy persona belied his background as a dancer. If you look at the opening scene to his 1932 film Taxi, you'll hear him speaking fluent Yiddish, a "High German" language that originated with Ashkenazi Jewish communities and was later fused with other German dialects, as well as the Hebrew, Aramaic and Slavic languages.


    Honouring a legend

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 26/06/2018

    » The annual temple fair at Wat Thap Kradan in Suphan Buri province was held recently. Every year, around the second week of June, thousands of luk thung fans, hundreds of vendors and a galaxy of luk thung singers descend on the temple to celebrate the life and music of Rajini Pleng Luk Thung (Queen of Thai Country), Pumpuang Duangjan.


    African and Eastern European artists dominate World Music Charts

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 12/06/2018

    » This month's World Music Chart from the European Broadcast Union, selected by 45 radio producers across 24 countries, features some interesting new releases that music fans might like to consider.


    When world music was opening our ears

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 29/05/2018

    » The 1980s was a period when non-Anglophonic mainstream bands started to make waves at festivals and music stores in Europe. Pioneering festivals like Angouleme in France exposed bands from Africa, Asia, Middle East and the Caribbean to international audiences. This is how the first wave of the boom in so-called "world music" started; these bands then began to release albums, which were often marketed from indie record stores. This is how we found out about Salif Keita, Mory Kante, Cheb Khaled and Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens.


    Put some schoolin' on ya

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 15/05/2018

    » This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of a New Orleans musical legend: Henry Roeland "Roy" Byrd, better known as Professor Longhair or just plain "Fess". He was born on Dec 18, 1918, in Bogalusa, Louisiana, and later moved to New Orleans with his mother.

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