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LIFE

Genre-bending greats

Life, John Clewley, Published on 16/07/2024

» Swamp Dogg (real name Jerry Williams Jr) is a well-known black American singer, songwriter, producer and Williams Jr's alter ego. A few years back, I wrote about Blame It On The Dogg: The Swamp Dogg Anthology 1968-1978, which features some of his hit R&B songs (put out under his real name and alter ego), such as She's A Heartbreaker by Gene Pitney and Stop Knocking by Ruth Brown.

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LIFE

Satanic sounds from the jungle

Life, John Clewley, Published on 02/07/2024

» In the 1960s in Peru, a funky popular style emerged in the oil-boom cities of the Amazon. It was largely based on Colombian cumbia and Andean tropical music but using the pentatonic scale of Andean music. Additional ingredients include highland huayno, Cuban percussion, psych and surf rock (especially twangy guitars, with as many as three playing together) and plenty of spacey keyboards.

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LIFE

Bridging cultures

Life, John Clewley, Published on 18/06/2024

» In 2011, Iraqi musician, actor and writer Ahmed Moneka was working as an artist and actor. He studied at Baghdad's Institute of Fine Art and, according to Canada's The Globe And Mail, he was the first black TV presenter in the country. His father, also a well-known comedy actor, was the pioneer. Moneka went into the "family business".

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LIFE

Chaabi grooves

Life, John Clewley, Published on 04/06/2024

» Morocco and southern Spain were favourite destinations when I was a student in Manchester in the 1970s. We could get a cheap package tour flight to Alicante, ditch the package holiday, jump on a bus to Malaga and then onto Algeciras to take a ferry to Tangiers. We left behind the (more often than not) rainy skies of Manchester for the piercing azure of Morocco's open vistas.

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LIFE

The voice of Zimbabwe

Life, John Clewley, Published on 21/05/2024

» Thomas Mapfumo, the Zimbabwean singer, bandleader and songwriter, is one of Africa's most respected musicians known not only for his hypnotic chimerenga music but also for his steadfast support for human rights, political dignity and social justice. Chimerenga is the Shona -- Mapfumo's ethnic group -- word for liberation and is based on the sacred and iconic instrument, the mbira (thumb piano or sanza), which is at the heart of Mapfumo's music.

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LIFE

Kurdish artist tops World Music Chart

Life, John Clewley, Published on 07/05/2024

» The top spot on the Transglobal World Music Chart for May 2024 is held by Turkish-born Kurdish singer, composer and instrumentalist Aynur Dogan. She infuses Kurdish folk music with mainly Western music, and has collaborated Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble among others.

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LIFE

World's in a spin

Life, John Clewley, Published on 23/04/2024

» Record Store Day has been part of the music scene for 20 years now, held twice a year in April and "Black Friday" in November. The day-long event is held to celebrate independent record stores around the globe, bringing together musicians, producers, media, DJs and retailers to enjoy new and reissued vinyl gems.

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LIFE

Farewell to a maestro

Life, John Clewley, Published on 10/04/2024

» The world of molam has been in mourning since news emerged that Thailand's greatest phin player Thongsai Thap Thanon passed away on March 20 at his home in Warin Chamrap district, Ubon Ratchathani, at the age of 77. The phin is a two- or three-stringed Isan Lao lute that is part of the trinity of molam instruments, along with the iconic khaen (free reed bamboo mouth organ) and the sor (fiddle).

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LIFE

Musical dissent

Life, John Clewley, Published on 26/03/2024

» Award-winning singer Kiran Ahluwalia was nearly lost to music fans 20 years ago. The Indian-born Canadian musician had completed an MBA and was all set to move forward with a career in finance, but she had misgivings about working with leveraged buyouts and her heart was not in it.

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LIFE

Echoes of Isan

Life, John Clewley, Published on 12/03/2024

» Sombat Simla is one of Thailand's top khaen players. He's been bending the notes of his khaen baet (eight rows of double pipes, sixteen in total) for more than 50 years.