Saturday, January 26, 2013

Music Demotivators

...because music is so cool
   it doesn't need to be serious
   all the time.

... and the beat goes on...


Friday, January 25, 2013

No More Music in Mali?


Even in a world of musical wonders, Mali is a special place-
home to traditions as old as time and some of the world's
most amazing artists. I'm thinking of people like
Ali Farka
Toumani Diabaté and Rokia Traore who weave the
past and the present together into trans-cultural music so
eautiful it can even prop up my flagging faith in humanity.

In Mali, music is part of the fabric of life and to think of
uch a place gone silent staggers the imagination. Like a sky
without birds, like a night with no stars, it's not simply sad,
it's horrific and yet there are people allegedly on a mission
from god to destroy this profound and simple joy...

Mali: no rhythm or reason as militants
declare war on music

The pickup halted in Kidal, the far-flung Malian desert town
that is home to members of the Grammy award-winning
band Tinariwen. Seven AK47-toting militiamen got out and
marched to the family home of a local musician. He wasn't
home, but the message delivered to his sister was chilling:
"If you speak to him, tell him that if he ever shows his face
in this town again, we'll cut off all the fingers he uses to play
his guitar with."

The gang then removed guitars, amplifiers, speakers,
microphones and a drum kit from the house, doused them
with petrol, and set them ablaze. In northern Mali, religious
war has been declared on music.

read the rest at...

"There's a lack of joy. No one is dancing.
There are no parties. Everybody's under
this kind of spell. It's strange.

          a Touareg musician from Kidal

Although it's only recently (thanks to the Al Qaeda brand)
that the situation in Mali has turned up in North American
media, this has been building up for several years.
One of the casualties of this war on life is the Festival
in the Desert. Begun in 2001, this festival has been held
"in exile" near Timbuktu for the last two years and now
has been postponed indefinitely.

Festival au Désert on Facebook


The town of Niafunké just south west of Timbuktu, where
Ali Farka Touré was mayor for many years, is now under
Islamist control. In the south, in Bamako, the combination
of fear and economic pressures means venues are closing
and the silence is growing.


"I'm a Muslim, but Sharia isn't my thing...
if I couldn't go up on stage anymore,
I would cease to exist. And without music,
Mali will cease to exist."

          Rokia Traore

In the midst of such sad and frightening news,
I was heartened to learn that a music festival
was doing something positive!

Glastonbury 2013 lineup: first act announced

The first act to be announced for this summer's Glastonbury
is the Malian singer Rokia Traoré and bands from the
embattled country will open the Pyramid stage each day,
organisers have said. In an intended act of solidarity with
musicians in Mali, where Islamists in the north have banned music

other parts of the festival site, including a revamped dance area,
will also feature a heavy west African presence.

By way of full disclosure. perhaps I should say that in a past life,
I worked to present Ali Farke Toure,
Toumani Diabaté and
Rokia Traore at a festival in Vancouver. Their performances
were quite literally stunning and remain among my most
cherished musical memories.

It's now, as we shiver through the dark days of winter
that festivals across Canada are making their plans
for the summer.

Will Mali be part of those plans?

Will the silence continue to grow?



Sunday, January 20, 2013

What is old-time music?

What is old-time music?

''...before we had radio and phonographs, folks used
the music to entertain themselves; a lot more people
played music in those days, before you could push
a button and rely on others to make it for you.

In the pre-electronic days you always had to make
your own music or be real near to some one who
was making the music, to hear it when it was actually
being made. There wasn't a music market and not much
money around, so except for a few minstrel shows
and occasional schoolhouse and medicine shows
even exceptional musicians gained only local, informal
popularity and retained their "day jobs" in agriculture

 or small-town mills.

The music from these earlier, old times endured through
the generations because of its rich and varied sounds and
lyrics and because it filled the needs of the people, who,
after all, created it for themselves.

Now that we have radio, TV, CDs, and so much electrical
gadgetry this music might seem old-fashioned. Or in other
words, enduring and timeless.

Sometimes in interviews I'm asked,
"Why do you play old-time music?"

I suppose they ask that because it's old and, by implication
and also in reality, non-commercial. I suspect that many
of us play this older style music for some of the same reasons
that most bluegrass musicians play bluegrass, because we
like it and it fits us.

We can think of all kinds of reasons such as "I was raised
with it," "I like its sound," "I like to be able to play the music
myself or with friends without plugging in," and I can add
"it's timeless, meaningful and I value its continuity with
the past." All of those and more fit me.

I can talk on and on about reasons for liking old-time
and bluegrass music but really it all boils down
to "it just suits me...''

Mike Seeger

if you're into music and don't know who Mike Seeger is,
you should... if you know who he is, you's probably enjoy
these links too:

Mike Seeger - Last Known Interview

Lonesome Liz's Outlaw Arts Page

Mike Seeger

SFC Photo of the Week: Mike Seeger


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Great Bass Quotes

I actually think that bass is probably the instrument
that has evolved in a quantum leap compared to other
instruments. It's the instrument that's evolved the most,
especially with how it's perceived.
     - Stanley Clarke

I wonder if I could make an electric bass.
     - Leo Fender

"The funk is in the gunk"    

     - James Jamerson, asked why he never cleaned
        or changed his strings

"Funk to me is where I came from; it's the way I grew up.
It's even deeper than the music. It's the way we communicated;
actually the way we lived.
It's like ten people in a small room and it's 110 degrees
outside and there's no air conditioner. It's when the bill
collector comes and you don't have any money to pay.
It's when you've had as much as you can take and you can't
take no more. What do you do? Funk it. That's when you
grow into the funk.
     -  Bootsy Collins

Occasionally, when I run into a great bass backstage
at a festival I'll play a few notes on the low E string,
just to feel the instrument vibrate against my belly.

     -  Steve Swallow

None of us wanted to be the bass player. In our minds
he was the fat guy who always played at the back.

Paul McCartney

Jack Bruce, as soon as I saw him, it changed me.
I didn't even know what bass players did until I saw Cream.

Geezer Butler

The bass player's function, along with the drums,
is to be the engine that drives the car...
everything else is merely colours.

Suzi Quatro

With bass, especially bottom end, the vibration has
to happen on stage otherwise the feel is wrong.
This is why you can't scale the equipment down too far.

John Entwistle

The bass, no matter what kind of music you're playing,
it just enhances the sound and makes everything sound
more beautiful and full. When the bass stops, the bottom
kind of drops out of everything.

Charlie Haden

When you have an acoustic bass in the ensemble it really
changes the dynamic of the record because it kind of forces
everybody to play with a greater degree of sensitivity and
nuance because it just has a different kind of tone and
spectrum than the electric bass.

David Sanborn

I wasn't originally a bass player. I just found out
I was needed, because everyone wants to play guitar.

Tina Weymouth

I just think that playing bass, like punk rock bass
with a pick, wasn't meant to be done for 25 years.

Kim Gordon

I like a lot of bass players. I like a lot of tuba players too.
Rick Danko

Bass players are always the intellectual kind,
but nobody knows it.

Stanley Clarke