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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.
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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.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

We all know that the recent flooding in Nashville, Tennessee has been devastating to its residents. People have been underwater for days, scrounging to collect any belongings they can save. But how did high-priced items, like world-famous rock instruments, weather the storm?

Not too well, according to the Los Angeles Times. An instrument storage facility, called Soundcheck Nashville, was home to the musical equipment of nearly 1,000 performers. Some of those include country stars Keith Urban and Vince Gill, along with other classic rock gurus like Jimi Hendrix and Pete Townshend. Brad Paisley apparently lost all his equipment for his upcoming tour.

The storage facility sat underwater for nearly six days before anyone could try to recover the instruments.

The owner of the facility, Ben Jumper, claimed that all musicians were responsible for having their own insurance for each instrument kept there. However, his own flood insurance on the building was minimal. Many of these classic instruments have since crumbled and are in no way recoverable.

This is sad news for rock and roll history. When we lose some of our great musical artifacts, like a guitar once played by Johnny Cash, it’s hard not to think that a little piece of the music dies along with it.

However, all the musicians housing instruments at Soundcheck Nashville are being supportive of each other. Not only are they reaching out to help, but they are also lending out some of the instruments they have that were not housed in the facility. The American Federation of Musicians Union has since set up a donation fund to help out those musicians who can’t afford to replace their equipment.

It’s good to know that when something like this happens, there are so many people who want to help.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

As the baby boomers grow older, it’s amazing to me how many of those that are performers are still touring the country. It may be true what they say — 50 is the new 30. But some of these old-time rock and rollers in particular have really managed to maintain good spirits in their careers, bodies, and minds. Maybe it’s all the medicinal herb, but damn, Willie Nelson sure knows how to keep things kicking.

Having recently turned seventy-seven years old, the folk singer is on a roll and doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. On April 20, his latest album, called Country Music, was released for purchase in the United States. The collection of fifteen songs includes new original songs as well as well-loved traditional folk/bluegrass music. But this is not enough for our dear Willie.

On top of his new album, he is about to embark on a six month tour all over the globe. It will kick off in New York on May 6 and finish up in Wisconsin on October 12. Some of the most intriguing tour stops include Germany, Austria, Netherlands, UK, Switzerland, and Belgium. I suppose you have to squeeze in the international concerts somewhere! For a complete listing of the 75 concerts Willie’s got in store, visit his tour dates page.

As for a Farm Aid concert, there is little information known about the event for 2010. Willie Nelson has been an advocate for Farm Aid since he, John Mellencamp, and Neil Young organized its first concert back in 1985. The organization promotes family farming, healthy foods, and keeping the spirit of the American farm alive.

For more information on Willie Nelson, please view his website.

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 Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

It’s a good thing our soldiers over in Afghanistan still have a sense of humor and enough spare time to entertain themselves…

There’s not a whole lot I can say about this. I just read about it and, well, it’s been amusing me. This video has over 427,000 views. Way to go, guys!

What do you think?

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

“If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!”

I like pudding. Apparently so does Roger Waters. He has just announced that he will be doing a solo tour, performing songs off the famous Pink Floyd album ‘The Wall.’ It’s going to be just like the old days….aaah. Refreshing.

The tour will run for thirty six shows. It will begin in Toronto, Canada on September 15 and finish up on December 13 in Anaheim, California. According to the New York Times, each performance of ‘The Wall’ will feature a 35-foot-tall, 240-foot-wide wall on stage. It will also have a full band and some intense videos.

Some people have been asking themselves why Roger Waters is doing this tour. On his website, he writes a letter to his fans: “This new production of  The Wall is an attempt to draw some comparisons, to illuminate our current predicament, and is dedicated to all the innocent lost in the intervening years.”

For tour dates and all other information on ‘The Wall’ tour, visit Roger Water’s website.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Did you know Paul McCartney is a vegetarian? I didn’t, but then again, I never looked into it until now.

On his latest and upcoming tour, the former Beatle is banning all meat related foods. In other words, he is forcing his crew to be vegetarians, too.

According to Sify News, 480 vegetarian meals will be served each day on the tour.

McCartney has always been an important figure in animal activism, but is this latest move taking things too far? Some fans think his decision to ban meat tastes a little bit like tyranny. So be it — his new title should be Sir Paul McCartney, vegetarian tyrant!

In a bold act of defiance, groups are being formed over the internet to bring beef into the lives of the common people who serve under the tyrant. A blogger from BeatCrave  has already had the idea of smuggling  in foods, like burgers, steaks and ribs to the meat-deprived crew.

While I understand McCartney’s need to revert to vegetarianism, I can’t possibly fathom why he would force those ideas on anyone else. PETA would be thrilled.

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