The sound of lesser conflicts

Saturday, 7 February, 2015 0 Comments

High-stakes talks last night between Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and François Hollande failed to produce an agreement to end the fighting in Ukraine. Attention turns now the annual Munich Security Conference in the hope that some kind of deal can be hammered out over the weekend. Meanwhile, the fighting in Mali continues.

At least 10 people have died so far this week in the country’s Tabankort region during skirmishes between the separatist National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad and the rival Tuareg Self-Defense Group. And in the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains, French troops killed a dozen Islamic terrorists. This is the world from which Tamikrest has emerged. The Tuareg band, led by Ousmane Ag Mossa, sings in Tamashek as it mixes traditional Malian music with Western blues and rock influences. The sound offers a glimmer of hope in a region wracked by violence and plagued by despair.

A Thousand Matches

Saturday, 31 January, 2015 0 Comments

Mike Rosenberg wrote Let Her Go two years ago. Here’s What Happened Next. In true Upworthy manner, the song clip has clocked up more than 519 million YouTube views. Let Her Go signaled the breakthrough for Rosenberg, aka Passenger. His voice has been likened to a mix of Cat Stevens and David Gray, while his writing has been compared with that of Ed Sheeran. In fact, the two have collaborated and played played concerts together in Europe, the US and Australia. Speaking of the Antipodes, Passenger is down there at the moment. On Tuesday, he played in Cairns; tonight he’s in the Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington and then it’s the turn of Darwin, Perth and Durban.

Here’s Rosenberg with Isobel Anderson and Stu Larsen on the beach in Brighton.

A Drone’s Eye View Of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way

Wednesday, 28 January, 2015 0 Comments

Meandering from Cork to Donegal, the Wild Atlantic Way is Ireland’s longest coastal touring route. This beautiful drone footage of the trail is by the talented UAV/drone pilot and photographer Raymond Fogarty.

By the way, Raymond Fogarty made headlines last year when it emerged that drone photographers in Ireland needed licensing by the Irish Aviation Authority. And the regulation of these “unmanned aerial vehicles” is very much in the news this week after it emerged that an employee of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency had (drunkenly?) flown a drone onto the grounds of the White House. This has led President Obama to call for regulating unmanned aircraft: “There are incredibly useful functions that these drones can play in terms of farmers who are managing crops and conservationists who want to take stock of wildlife,” he said. “But we don’t really have any kind of regulatory structure at all for it.”

Meanwhile, take a look at Dronestagram, a website where drone photographers share and discuss their work. Love this shot of the sun setting over the town of Annecy in south-eastern France.

This just in: UAE plans new drones law following Dubai airspace alert

Hundred Waters

Saturday, 27 December, 2014 0 Comments

Album of the Year? Lots of contenders. One is The Moon Rang Like a Bell released by Hundred Waters on 27 May. “Part of The Moon‘s appeal is that it hearkens back to the style of Vespertine, the last album when Björk’s restlessly experimental music still had a foot in accessibility, before she took such a conceptual turn,” wrote Mark Richardson in Pitchfork. This was a good year for Nicole Miglis, Paul Giese, Zach Tetreault and Trayer Tryon.

The night Bob Dylan played for a single Swede

Saturday, 20 December, 2014 0 Comments

Fredrik Wikingsson went to a Bob Dylan concert. Not exactly newsworthy, that, except he was the only fan sitting in the auditorium of the Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Dylan isn’t known for doing cover songs, but he played three for Wikingsson: Buddy Holly’s Heartbeat, Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill and Chuck Willis’ It’s Too Late (She’s Gone). The mini-concert was arranged by the Swedish TV show “Experiment Ensam,” which enables people to experience individually those things that are normally shared by large groups.

The family that picks together sticks together

Saturday, 22 November, 2014 0 Comments

Why does the world’s greatest banjo player have the forenames Béla, Anton and Leoš? The story is that he was raised by his mother in New York City and never met his father. In her wisdom, she named him Béla Anton Leoš Fleck after the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, the Austrian composer Anton Webern and the Czech composer Leoš Janáček. Nomen est omen as the Romans used to say and Béla Fleck got a banjo when he was 15. Four years ago, he married the clawhammer banjo player and singer Abigail Washburn. Together, Fleck & Washburn make wonderful music.

The sound of Scotland: RM Hubbert

Saturday, 20 September, 2014 1 Comment

The votes have been cast and the ripples from Scotland are spreading across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. With luck, the result will be a more representative democracy for all the citizens of the United Kingdom. We end our Scottish week here with the excellent RM Hubbert, a guitarist from Glasgow now living in Troon. By the way, he’s playing in Kilkenny tonight, in The Hole in the Wall.

Scotland and England: A most harmonious union

Thursday, 18 September, 2014 0 Comments

The singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty was born in Paisley, the largest town in Renfrewshire in the Lowlands of Scotland. He found an audience for his music in London and he immortalized the city in Baker Street. With Rafferty’s understated vocals contrasting perfectly with the soaring saxophone of Raphael Ravenscroft, a classic was born. Baker Street will go well with a glass of single malt tonight as excitement about the referendum result begins to escalate.


Saturday, 6 September, 2014 0 Comments

Nice beats here by Spooky Black from St Paul. There’s lots more at SoundCloud. Fans of the American hip hop scene will be aware that in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the Twin Cities played a significant role in the American hip hop scene with artists such as Atmosphere and Brother Ali.

Great Lake Swimmers

Saturday, 26 July, 2014 0 Comments

The 2014 edition of the Calgary Folk Music Festival is underway. Thursday’s kick-off included Trampled By Turtles, Valerie June, Hey Rosetta and Andrew Bird. Last night, it was the turn of Lee Fields & The Expressions, Rufus Wainwright, Amos Lee, funk-punk pioneers Fishbone and the superb Great Lake Swimmers.

Emm Gryner does the math

Saturday, 31 May, 2014 0 Comments

Torrential is the title of the fourth album from Canadian singer-songwriter Emm Gryner and, like the preceding three, it’s good. By the way, the prolific Gryner is also a member of the folk trio Trent Severn. She excels at the catchy pop ballad and “Math Wiz” is one of her best.