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  • LIFE

    Shake Djibouti

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 07/07/2020

    » Djibouti, officially known as the Republic of Djibouti, is one of continental Africa's smallest countries. It has a population of less than a million spread out across an area that is just over 23,200km². For most people outside this part of the Horn of Africa, the city is known for its position as a bustling port, strategically located at the point where the Gulf of Aden meets the Red Sea.

  • LIFE

    Protest songs make comeback

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 23/06/2020

    » Street protests against racial injustice and police brutality that erupted across US towns and cities in the past few weeks have gone global as similar protests have been held in cities in many countries.

  • LIFE

    A whole different sonic vibe

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 09/06/2020

    » Sega is the traditional and popular music of the island of Mauritius, which sits in the vast Indian Ocean; some call sega the blues of the Indian Ocean but I think of it as the soundtrack to the sea.

  • LIFE

    Mory Kante is gone, but not forgotten

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 26/05/2020

    » In 1987, the singer and kora (21-stringed African harp) player Mory Kante released his fifth studio album, Akwaba Beach. The Guinean-born musician included a number of interesting songs including an Islamic song, Inch Allah, but it was the 12-inch single from the album Yé Ké Yé Ké that caused a sensation as it became the first single from Africa to sell more than a million copies. The song swept into the charts across Europe, and if you were walking around the bars and clubs in Bangkok during that period, you could hear the song everywhere.

  • LIFE

    RIP to a legend

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 12/05/2020

    » Little Richard, one of the pioneers and originators of rock'n'roll, has died at the age of 87. His family made the announcement on May 9 from Nashville, bringing the final curtain down on the life of one of the great innovators of popular music in the 20th century.

  • LIFE

    Wander through the desert

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 28/04/2020

    » The Transglobal World Music Chart for April features one of the most popular of the so-called desert blues bands of West Africa, with Tamikrest in the No.1 slot.

  • LIFE

    Keep on rockin' in a lockdown

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 14/04/2020

    » The sonic landscape of my life in central Bangkok has changed dramatically over the past few weeks of social distancing. Gone are the sounds of construction drills, booming pile drivers, honking horns, unmuffled motorcyles and throbbing tuk-tuks. I can hear birdsong of all kinds in the mornings and, at dusk, the whirring and squeaking of different bat species as they zoom around hunting for insects.

  • LIFE

    A tribute to Manu Dibango

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 31/03/2020

    » Just after the World War II, in 1948, a gangly youth arrived in Strasbourg, France, after a long trip from Douala in Cameroon. He had 3kg of coffee in his luggage and a burning desire to be a saxophonist like Lester Young (later he would don a Young-esque pork pie hat and blow smoke rings like the acclaimed master). His name was Manu Dibango. Sadly, this veteran musician died last week of complications from the Covid-19 virus. He was 86 years old.

  • LIFE

    Trombone's place in modern music

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 17/03/2020

    » The funky sound of Fred Wesley's trombone landed on the World Beat desk this week courtesy of an album he released in 1974, with his band, Fred Wesley & the New JB's, called Breakin' Bread (originally released on Polydor, re-released 2015). Wesley was James Brown's musical director at the time, and Brown produced the album and co-wrote most of the songs with Wesley.

  • LIFE

    Irish shenanigans on Sukhumvit

    Life, John Clewley, Published on 03/03/2020

    » Irish music takes centre stage in this edition of the column. Long-time Bangkok resident Prof Mick Moloney featured in a previous column on the Sunday music programme at the Mercy Center in Klong Toey, Bangkok. It was a fun trip, but I didn't have the chance to see Mick play his beloved tenor banjo and sing some Irish songs.

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