SXSW 2012 Artists
Debo Band: Boston-based, Addis Ababa-tempered Debo Band harnesses the power of Ethiopian music and takes it up a notch. Though many listeners know the country’s funk and jazz past, Ethiopia’s lively, cosmopolitan scenes didn’t fade with African interest in jazz, James Brown, or the sounds of rock psychedelica. Many talented musicians survived famine and war, or came back to Addis Ababa from around the globe in the 1990s and 2000s, forging a new Ethiopian sound and energy. Taking cues from vintage and contemporary artists unsung in the West, Debo Band unleashes rolling grooves, serpentine melody lines, and urgently joyful vocals—and transmits the scene’s vitality beautifully to international audiences.
M.A.K.U. Sound System: Afro-Colombian punk and folkloric funk: that’s the sound of the Queens underground. M.A.K.U. Sound System’s young, bold pan-Latin approach adds horns and gorgeous vocals to roaring guitars and hard-hitting Latin beats, with the relentless energy that has made Colombia a major musical hotspot.
With a core of Columbian expats—a talented handful of the hundreds of thousands of Colombians living in New York City—and fronted by riveting singer Liliana Conde, M.A.K.U. gives traditional Afro-Colombian rhythms from mapalé to bullerengue a brilliantly urban edge, thanks to support from a tight, cosmopolitan band.
"Traditional Afro Colombian rhythms, as well as a mosaic of American genres." - Afropop.org
BélO: “I was chosen to be an activist artist,” exclaims BélO, Haiti’s outspoken groove innovator. “It would be easier to earn more money or be more popular doing love songs. But I was born an activist musician. I live it, I feel it, and I have a vision.”
The globally informed and upbeat singer, songwriter, and guitarist’s vision interweaves the Afro-Caribbean depths of Haitian tradition with a progressive voice for social and political transformation. BélO keeps the socially conscious spirit of reggae alive, mixing it with the vibrant sounds of his native Pétion-Ville, Haiti’s music central. With strong connections to his native island and to the Parisian Afro-global music scene, BélO finds powerful sonic ties that span the Atlantic and powerful ways to move audiences, to action and to sing along.
Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino: The tens of thousands who often congregate for this Puglia-based band’s concerts in Italy know: Bandleader, fiddler, and drummer Mauro Durante and company can make an audience shimmy with the energy of the ancient ritual of pizzica tarantata, said to cure the deadly spider’s bite with its frenzied trance dances. Drawing on the unique sound and heritage found on Salento, Italy’s isolated peninsula, Canzoniere use lush vocals, percussion, recorder, accordion, and evocative dance to transport listeners to that good old state of altered consciousness and musical release.
Started nearly forty years ago by Durante’s acclaimed father, Canzoniere has revitalized both the rousing and the introspective sides of Southern Italian song and dance. Durante continues to innovate and energize, bringing decades of experience playing with global artists (globalFEST alum Ballake Sissoko), contemporary classical composers (Ludivico Einaudi), and pop mavericks (Stewart Copeland of The Police).
Diogo Nogueira: A television idol whose good looks match his magnetic stage presence, this Brazilian singer and songwriter hails from a samba family, and his father João Nogueira was a highly respected composer. After a career in soccer, the young Diogo couldn’t help himself: He cut a soulful album, perfected his gritty, warm voice, got a Latin Grammy nomination as best newcomer, and became a samba sensation, recently winning a Latin Grammy.
A native of Rio, Nogueira performs that city’s characteristic samba-canção, a more melodic variation that is among the best loved in Brazil. Samba-canção's lyrics are mostly romantic, waxing poetic about love, music, soccer, and of course about Cariocas' (native Rio dwellers’) endless infatuation with their native city. In a rare U.S. appearance, Nogueira promises to bring Rio’s joyful heat and favorite beats to New York.
Mayra Andrade: Mayra Andrade uses her light and stirring voice to evoke not only the distinctive sounds of Cuba and Cape Verde, but also to channel the beauty of many Lusophone, Latin, and European traditions. Tapped in her teens for her voice and interpretive sensitivity, Andrade quickly rose to European acclaim, representing the youngest generation of Cape Verde’s multifaceted music brought to global listeners by Cesaria Evora.
Andrade has drawn from Brazilian and French songs, as well as African sounds, to create music that engages jazz, acoustic, and chanson traditions. Now based in France, her musical curiosity has taken her from São Paolo to the streets of Havana. Andrade’s approach shines in a pared-down setting with a cosmopolitan trio (Munir Hossn: guitar; Zé Luis Nascimento: percussion; Thierry Fanfant: double bass).
Silk Road Ensemble: Like the ancient route that gave the group its name, the Silk Road Ensemble continues to unite across cultures and continues to produce connections of deep relevance. This international collective of virtuoso musicians has vowed to carry on founder, artistic director, and cello star Yo-Yo Ma’s musical legacy in their own distinct way, maintaining their dizzyingly high standards and strong commitment to tradition, while composing, innovating, and further developing their sonic rapport.
globalFEST will see fourteen musicians take the stage, ranging from Western classical cello virtuosi handpicked by Ma to traditional masters from across Eurasia, including a Galician bagpipe diva, and Chinese pipa and sheng masters, for an evening of the highest musicianship and border-breaking creativity.
Nick Cords, viola
Sandeep Das, tabla
Johnny Gandelsman, violin
Joe Gramley, percussion
Colin Jacobsen, violin
Cristina Pato, gaita
Shane Shanahan, percussion
Ko Umezaki, shakuhachi
Wu Man, pipa
Wu Tong, sheng
Mike Block, cello
Eric Jacobsen, cello
Jeff Beecher, bass
Haruka Fujii, percussion
SMOD (U.S. Debut): SMOD—named for the four high school friends and hip hop fans who founded the Malian group—tells it like it is. Their beginnings as a popular Bamako crew took a fascinating musical turn when Sam, son of Malian pop duo Amadou & Mariam, picked up the guitar.
The result was a distinct roots-rap hybrid sound that incorporates crunchy organic sounds, strong flow, and Afro-centric beats, a mix the group has dubbed “Afro-Rap.” Defying Malian and American rap orthodoxy, SMOD breaks into new musical territory with a flourish that caught the ear of globalist producer Manu Chao.
“SMOD embody a new spirit, a new freedom of expression, unchained by old social constraints or the need to kowtow to the rich and powerful.”—Andy Morgan
The Gloaming (U.S. Debut): Earlier this year, five virtuosic, highly individual performers met among the verdant fields of Central Ireland, not far from the seat of Ireland’s high kings. At once, they made music that is both ancient and utterly new.
Classically trained pianist and indie darling Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman, who’s played with everyone from The National to Antony and the Johnsons to Yoko Ono); revered young proponent of Gaelic vocal traditions Iarla Ó Lionaird (Afro-Celt Soundsystem, collaborations with contemporary classical composer Gavin Bryars), deeply respected fiddle master Martin Hayes and his longtime collaborator, Chicago folk icon and guitarist Dennis Cahill; and edgy fiddler and hardanger fiddle innovator Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh may have widely divergent takes on tradition. Yet together they found a finely balanced sound, a common spirit, and a raucous power that leaps from sparse to beautiful, from jubilant to dignified.
Wang Li (U.S. Debut): Wang Li hails from Tsinghao, a Northeastern Chinese coastal city on the Yellow Sea. He grew up playing jaw harp, and later played bass in Western-influenced bands in college. But his life took a surprising turn once he graduated: Li wound up in an austere French monastery.
There, he discovered a new contemplative, intimate vision for the jaw harp and Chinese sheng. After four years, he struck out on his own path of patience and stillness. He went on to study jazz at the Paris Conservatory and became fascinated with improvisation. Li then began traveling throughout his native region, learning from local musicians. He mastered circular breathing and the subtleties of his favorite instrument, the jaw harp, evoking an interior world rich with echoes of childhood and moving listeners from the inner turmoil to silence.
Yemen Blues: If Blind Willie Johnson hung out with North African trance musicians or if Stevie Wonder studied Yemenite chants, it would sound like Yemen Blues. Raw yet refined, the group’s nine eclectic musicians bang on olive cans, hit elusive microtones, and sing in invented languages.
Lead singer Ravid Kalahani is all about creating what he calls “moments of soul” for audiences, swooping from clear falsetto into a gravelly baritone, switching from Yemenite Arabic to Hebrew to Haitian Creole. Growing up singing Yemenite chants at synagogue, the young Kalahani would sing made-up songs as he walked down the street. Kalahani’s smoldering charisma unites with musical director and seasoned jazz bassist Omer Avital’s elegant arrangements, and with the superb musicianship and stage presence of classically trained string players and veterans of the Israeli roots-pop scene.
Zaz: Velvet-voiced French vocalist Zaz began singing the blues (and Basque roots music) in Bordeaux, only to find herself setting Montmartre street corners dancing, bringing Piaf to Siberia, and playing for Colombian salt miners and enthusiastic Egyptians as the frontwoman for several groundbreaking, globally informed French bands. Her songs sweep in all her worldly influences--from Latin vibes to Middle Eastern beats--all linked by her husky, rich voice and quirky, grooving interpretive sensibility. They have swept Zaz to the top of the French charts, to major French music awards, and into the international spotlight.
Artists subject to change. Wonderland will not be participating in this year’s globalFEST.