Saturday, January 20, 2007

There's A Whole World Of Music Out There - Live A Little

So, Clay Aiken’s A Thousand Days is playing a bit on the radio. I know that the general consensus is that radio play is important and I’m sure it is. But I also know that if I’m listening to the radio, it’s either Air America or Fordham’s public radio station WFUV 90.7 where I can hear Patty Griffin, Taj Mahal, Paul Simon, Tom Waits, Morphine, Stephen Stills, Chris Smither, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters and Radiohead all on the same station. Pretty obvious why I’m not a fan of “popular” radio.

To radio or not to radio. Such a dilemma. I started thinking about the CDs I’ve bought in the last 6 months. Of course, there was A Thousand Different Ways by Clay Aiken. I also picked up Neil Young’s Living with War. And I had to get Eric Clapton & JJ Cale’s Road to Escondido. I’m a huge Georgie Fame fan and a bunch of imports are now listed for preorder on so I had to preorder Fame At Last. And I also picked up Diana Krall’s From This Moment On.

Where do people hear about new music anyway? What ways are they exposed to all the incredible stuff that’s out there? I know for me it’s I have mentioned a couple of times how much I adore Pandora for discovering new music in Revisiting The Music Genome Project and Music Genome Project: Follow the Clay Path to New Music.Because of some of the artists I was exposed to there, I bought Matt Nathanson’s Beneath These Fireworks and Matt Kearney’s Nothing To Lose just a couple of months ago. Then there are indie stations and friends recommend stuff. Sometimes you hear something that just clicks with you on a movie soundtrack or a tv program. Or get lucky and catch something good in an unexpected place like watching a late night show. But all the wonderful artists that I gravitate to are never hyped. And I think only Eric Clapton and JJ Cale’s cd is standing on Billboard’s recent chart – at #65!!!!!! Sheesh.

So for those of you who may be bored with the same old-same old . . . eager to see what else is out there . . . Looking to do a little music exploration . . . take a trip to Putumayo World Music . As stated on their website “
Putumayo World Music has become known primarily for its upbeat and melodic compilations of great international music characterized by the company's motto: “guaranteed to make you feel good!
And boy, does it ever!

I recently ordered two compilations from Putumayo. The cds come with wonderful inserts in French and English and Spanish describing all the songs and artists in detail – great reading and really informative.

French Café is a collection of classic and modern French music featuring some of the greatest names in the history of French music as well as new artists who are inspired by classic chanson, gypsy jazz and musette. As a fan of Pink Martini – I was excited to hear Paris Combo, with the same kind of happy, jazzy, flavor. I immediately went out and bought one of their albums, Motifs, and I was not disappointed. Check them out on this video:

I fell in love with Mathieu Boogaerts whose song, Ondule, is a wonderful mix of chanson, reggae and electronic music. This video is Mathieu (on the right) singing with Mathieu Chedid – great great fun!

And one of my favorite cuts on this cd is by Polo. I’m a fan of Django Reinhardt’s music – so Polo’s really reached out to me – a swinging gypsy jazz song.

The second CD I ordered was Blues Around The World described in their catalogue as
a collection of musicians from Mississippi to Mauritania, Memphis to Madrid, demonstrating the powerful influence of the Blues on musicians in every corner of the earth.
What an incredible combination of talents on this CD. Simply amazing.

First song on the album was Listen My Son by The Unseen Guest, a group led by an Irish musician, Declan Murray, and an Indian musician, Amith Narayan. I loved it and immediately went and ordered their album, Out There.

Big Mama and Victor Uris – great guitar and harmonica blues performed in Catalan but oozing Mississippi blues spirit - what a treat this is.

One of my favorite collaborations on this cd is Back Around, by Bonnie Raitt and Habib Koite. I’m already a Bonnie Raitt fan – but I’d never heard of Habib Koite who is from Mali . One listen to this song and his fabulous guitar work and I went back to Putumayo and ordered Baro, an amazing album. Here’s a clip of Habib performing Batoumambe:

Amar Sundy, a member of the nomadic Tuareg tribe who inhabit the western Sahara Desert, spent time in Paris and then moved in 1986 to Chicago, working with legendary Albert King. In the early 1990s, he returned to Paris and his cut, Ouallache, is a great combination of American jazz, French lyrics and African/Mid-East influences.

There’s so much incredible music out there . . . you can spend hours wandering the Putumayo site just listening to clips and clicking Buy. I know I’ve still got to pick up Louisiana Gumbo, Mali to Memphis, Congo to Cuba and Samba Bossa Nova , It’s a great way to sample amazing musicians, lyricists and singers. It’s a big world out there – filled with wonderful surprises. Start traveling!

So . . . what does this have to do with Clay Aiken? Nothing really except that the fans of this wonderful singer are a mixed bunch - far removed from the stereotype perpetuated by the so-called media. And if Clay ever wants to duet with Habib Koite - I'm there in a heartbeat!

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Anonymous said...

I SOOOOO enjoyed listening to these artists! Thank-you. Just like you I have a wide range of music I love!

Pink Armchair said...

This is one of the reasons why I love this fandom so much -- through liking Clay and becoming acquainted with some of his fans, I have been introduced to so much other great music, most of which I would never have known about. Thanks for this -- and you're so right that Clay's fans are so much more interesting and diverse than some of the detractors might suggest!

soungalo said...

nice post, and nice discoveries. while you're on this tip, i would suggest you check out this site (which, for full disclosure, i work at) - calabash music
we carry music from independent musicians from around the world, offer 1 minute samples of each song, and you can create your own random playlists from the front page by putting a term in the search and play box.
some of my faves are andy palacio from belize, sara tavares from cape verde, ramata diakite from mali, and zola from south africa.

dj earball said...

I second soungalo's suggestions, and you can find more information on and music from those artists (and many other global sounds) at - a blog of "world music" mp3s and global culture info. I also highly recommend the music of Andy Palacio, whose new CD I just reviewed, and who is one of a couple Garifuna artists from Belize who will be touring in 2007.