World Music News Wire

The open expanse of the Skirball Cultural Center’s courtyard looks peaceful nestled under the Santa Monica Mountains, but in summer, it bursts with the raucous and joyful noise of the best of the world’s musicians: Hungarian gypsies bang milk cans and Kenyan bards wield handmade fiddles, while nonagenarian Yiddish-singing piano bar veterans and soulful Cajuns, hip salsa activists, and trans-cultural divas rub shoulders with dancing neighbors of all generations, backgrounds, and lifestyles.

This fun-loving, open-hearted haven is the Skirball Cultural Center’s Sunset Concerts Series, one of Los Angeles’ rare opportunities to embrace local, community, and global possibilities in a welcoming outdoor setting designed for dancing, celebration, and engagement. In its fourteenth year, this free Thursday evening series (July 22–August 26) aims to connect people to one another by embracing a panoply of sound that spans the planet, with emphasis on L.A. and California debut performances.

“We’re always looking for the perfect outdoor concert,” says Sunset Concerts curator Yatrika Shah-Rais, the Skirball’s music director. “People like to be outdoors and move. So we offer something that people can get involved in and really dance to. It’s festive and boisterous.”

The vibrant community spirit of Sunset Concerts, which includes a lively dance floor and, for many, a family picnic, is habit-forming, with concertgoers marking their calendars months in advance and stopping Shah-Rais on the street and asking for the line-up. It is yet another harmonious facet of the Skirball’s welcoming, community-minded mission.

Read more about this event, its performers, and lineup here.

Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

I know that today’s post isn’t necessarily about arts and entertainment, but I find this far too important not to post for you to see. While roaming around facebook, a friend of mine sent me this video, which I found to be amazing. A few Southern farmers have worked out a very simple solution to help clean up some of the oil that is currently killing the gulf. Watch it for yourself:

Hay! This is absolutely ingenius! Just think about all the hay we’ve got all around the country. If we simply put more man power on doing this, who knows how much oil could be averted away from the marine creatures and the coast, too?

This idea is also better because it is completely green. The chemicals the government has been pumping into our ocean to ‘help’ clean up the oil may be doing more harm than good. With this simple solution, there are no added chemicals and less chance of hurting more animals.

Think about it.


World Music News Wire

Rocky Dawuni walks the talk. Fist held high and dreadlocks flowing, the Ghanaian reggae artist is a rebel among rebels, tackling serious social issues with uplifting ballads and reggae rockers. All while working to challenge everything from infectious diseases to clean water to poverty across the rural communities of his homeland.

On Hymns for the Rebel Soul, Dawuni’s infectious, groove-driven music refuses to play by the rules. He sings about the struggles against corruption, war, and despair, drawing on his own experiences while melding bluesy Motown horn lines with Afro-beat grooves and Arabic percussion. Add highlife afro-pop guitar mingled with polyrhythms and Scandinavian melodies and Dawuni re-imagines a fearlessly global, one-love reggae with contemporary African ingenuity.

Let’s rewind a few decades to where Dawuni’s instinct to innovate emerged in the middle of an army camp under a military government. Under a dimly lit African sky, Bob Marley’s iconic “Uprising” album blares from P.A. speakers at an outdoor bar crowded with soldiers; a little boy takes note of the politically charged lyrics and a rebel is born.

As music entwined with his passion for speaking truth to questionable power, he “went pro,” he says, as a young psychology student at the University of Ghana. “My first band was an accident,” he laughs. “In my first year, I met these four guys who were students there and musicians. Everyone was saying, ‘Why are we in the University if we want to be musicians? Why don’t we form a band?’” And the seeds were planted.

In the late 1990s he took the plunge, and soon Dawuni found himself traveling the world – ultimately releasing multiple CDs and working with musicians like Bono and Stevie Wonder, as well as providing music for U.S. television shows including Weeds, ER and Dexter.

Continue reading the rest of this article here.


Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Just about every year, I head into New Jersey for Michael Arnone’s Crawfish Festival. It’s a festival that boasts delicious southern home cooking and music – mostly blues, zydeco, and funk. This year, the acts were good, but I’d have to say that one stood out more than the rest. It is here that I introduce you to Joanne Shaw Taylor, a blues guitarist from the UK.

Listening to her music, you’d think that she grew up down south or at least had a direct blood line to Stevie Ray Vaughan AND Jimi Hendrix. This girl can play. Flipping her hair around the stage, she drew me in with a cover of Manic Depression by Hendrix. Her solo was just about as good as Jimi’s easily.

She went into some of her own music and the audience she had gathered under the tent grew exceedingly by the time she was done with her set. But enough of me yabbering on about how good she was. See for yourself:

Taylor is currently undergoing an extensive international tour with performances in New York, Pennsylvania, Finland, and Sweden. It’s a lot of traveling, but the exposure will certainly help her sell her talent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this girl go mainstream within a year.


Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

We all love to eat delicious summer foods when the weather takes a turn for the warmer. Picnics become more frequent, drinking cold fruity drinks on a daily basis becomes normal, and we’re always looking for some new food to spice up our lives. Well folks, I think I’ve found it.

Forget your store-bought salsas. Although Santa Barbara brand salsa is quite good (and my favorite store-bought brand), it can’t live up to the recipe I’ve just stumbled upon. Here’s the best home-made recipe for mango salsa I’ve ever tasted…


  • 2 mangoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 (8 ounce) can of pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or however more you want to add to make it more spicy)

Add it all together, and you’ve got mango salsa! It is very important that you use fresh ingredients in this. It makes for a much better taste. While I admit that I did use a can of pineapple tidbits, everything else was fresh and the cilantro was from my garden. This salsa is great because it offers so many flavors…you bite into it and at first get the mango, then pineapple, then a burst of ginger, onion, and cilantro, and it leaves you with a spicy taste in your mouth.

Here’s a bit of what I was just munching on. It tastes great on a blue tortilla chip!

Oh, but one more thing…if you think you need to double the recipe to get enough to last you, you don’t! That’s what I did and now I have enough to feed a small army. Who wants some??


Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

I’ve found something extremely weird to share with you today — sculptures that aren’t really sculptures…because they don’t stand still. Instead, Dutch artist Theo Jansen has created sculptures that actually move with the power of the wind.

He calls his creations ‘strandbeest’ or beach animals. They act like a new kind of species he developed on his own through the power of art, physics, engineering, and creativity.

According to Oddity Central, Jansen’s strandbeest ‘can use the power of the elements to move, store this energy for later use, and protect themselves in case of danger…In their creator’s vision of the future, the strandbeest will, at one point, develop muscles and brains that will allow them to perform complex actions.’

At this point, they are mostly powered by wind. The fact that they actually store that power for future use is a green idea that our society has started to tap into more recently.

Showing you a picture of this creation is helpful, but you don’t really get the full effect unless you see a video of the strandbeest in action…

Jansen, who is a former physicist, has held nothing back in making his art. In fact, his work might lead us to believe that going mobile with the power of wind has some validity to it. The strandbeest has already been featured at several festivals, including Burning Man, an art and expression festival in the Nevada Desert.


World Music News Wire

From atop a smoldering, Afro-rock soapbox, rooted in the traditions of his homeland, an African immigrant and activist belts out this rallying cry, warning against state corruption and capitalistic greed. “People are trapped between governments and corporations,” says the Togolese-born Massama Dogo – singer, guitarist, composer, and founder of the band Elikeh. “Africans,” in particular, he continues, “are being used and abused” by these institutions.

Exploiting a musical pulpit adorned with gritty guitar-heavy grooves, Dogo’s poignant diatribes achieve full resonance on Adje! Adje!, the new release from his D.C.-based ensemble.

Dogo and his group seek to put the tiny sliver nation of Togo on the musical map. Even within Togo itself, this nation’s music has been marginalized by its own state-sponsored media. Remarking on his childhood growing up in this West African country, Dogo recalls, “the radio never promoted anything from Togo. They only played music from other countries.” Although it is improving, even today, Elikeh faces a tough Togolese media that are primarily oriented towards Ghanaian hip-life, Congolese Soukous, and Ivorian Zouglou music.

Read more about Dogo’s past as an upcoming musician here.

Illustrating the distinct sonic beauty of this creolized African dialect, Dogo relates the hardships of his adjustment to American life on the song “Madjo.” Creating an entrancing mixture of linguistic buoyancy, over the intimate rhythmic strumming of a loan crystalline acoustic guitar, Dogo trades versus with guest Malian rap artist Yeli Fezzo, who sings in Parisian French.

On Adje! Adje!, Dogo is able to realize his artistic vision, creating original music that fuses indigenous Togolese traditional elements with contemporary sensibilities. “Novi Nye” (My Brother), begins with the interlocking bell and drum pattern of a music known as Kamou. This driving triplet-based rhythm continues as a muted guitar plays off this polyrhythmic motif, accompanying a sanguine flute characteristic of the Kamou, which floats throughout the song, giving the track a refreshing lightness. As a trio of guitars produces a stir of timbres and textures, each subtly using different electronic effects, the celebratory vocals call for unity among the various ethnic and political groups within Togo. “I wrote this song just before the recent presidential elections in Togo,” says Dogo. “I was thinking that although my country is divided along political lines, with the ruling faction living in the north and the opposition in the south, we are all brothers and sisters.”

Departing form the trends, Elikeh carves out their own musical space. “Everybody is going for straight up Fela Kuti Afro-beat style right now,” Dogo claims. “We have some of that influence; we have some highlife in there, but the way we incorporate rock is not there in other bands. As a joke we call it Afro-high; but we cannot call it that because everyone would think we are high all the time.” Reminiscent of the raw and rough Afro-rock sound coming out of West Africa in the 1970s, the songs “Oleblemi,” and “Get Ready” feature hard-hitting funk-rock grooves with mildly distorted guitar solos from veteran John Lee, who has played with a number of noted African musicians, including Baye Kouyate.

The band’s sound is also distinguished by the trifecta of gravely guitars that weave throughout the album, creating dense multi-layered polyrhythmic patterns. These textures shimmer on “Let’s March,” a slow-burning re-invention of a composition by Nigerian songwriter Orlando Julius Ekemode. “The original uses keyboards,” Dogo explains, “but I think that a lot of African bands overuse keyboards.” Providing a direct connection to the roots of this song, the rhythmical guitar of Frank Martins—who also appeared on Ekemode’s original recording of this song—reverberates on this African anthem. Martins is also featured on “Aiko,” which uses a slowed-down version of a style from the Southern part of Togo called tumewe, combined with the call and response of the agbekor style.

Building on the precedent of musical political activism set by artists such as Nigeria’s Fela Kuti and Zimbabwe’s Thomas Mapfumo, a majority of the ensemble’s songs have profound political themes. Opening the record with a haunting a capella chant, the album’s namesake, “Adje! Adje!” offers a warning. “We are saying: watch out! Here they come again – the multinationals and the corrupt governments,” says Dogo. “But this time we won’t let them take over our place!” This poignantpolitical message is punctuated with tight horn stabs, interlacing guitar lines, and dense polyrhythmical drumming provided by Tosin Aribisala, who is no stranger to socially conscious music. Arisbisala has toured with Femi Kuti, in addition to recording a tribute to Fela Kuti (Red Hot & Riot), which included such notables as Macy Gray, Erykah Badu, Sade, Baaba Maal, and Taj Mahal.

With their distinct brand of Togolese-infused “Afro-high,” which merges a re-invention of the rugged Afro-rock of the 1970s with Afro-beat, highlife, and roots music of West Africa, Elikeh prove that the marginalized music of a tiny overshadowed nation can inspire engaging new sonic landscapes, and stand shoulder to shoulder with its more notorious neighbors.