Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I'm not gonna lie, when I first heard about this band three years ago, it made my stomach churn a little bit. The idea of an Afrobeat band called Albino! which is comprised of *mostly* white dudes in costume (often African-themed costume and "tribal" face paint) was not really appealing to me at all; especially coming right out of an Ethnomusicology academic program where I thought about race and music consistently for three years. I was even sure that the band was pretty damn good, but it was still disturbing to me.
But then, the more I thought about it, and the more I got to know the Bay Area and its sense of humor and awareness, it seemed less and less of an issue. I mean, in Austin I was in an afropop band where we often didn't even know what we were singing about, let alone if we were singing words that made ANY sense in the original language (we learned covers phonetically). We just liked the music and wanted to recreate it the best we knew how. At least Albino!'s lyrics are in English and write about political and racial issues in their own community (class struggle within Oakland for instance).
The name Albino! and the costumes seem to be merely poking fun at the fact that the musicians are a bunch of white guys, and yeah, "we play African music," so what? There are dozens of afrobeat bands in the US comprised of mostly/all white people (Antibalas, Budos, Nomo, Afrodesia etc), and they're damn damn good bands that I love very much and do all I can to support them. Can I single one out because of a band name and funny outfits? Can I seriously consider this tasteless enough to count them out?
The music is good. The music does not poke fun. I now have one of their live CDs and it's great music.
What do you think; am I trying too hard justify this idea? Can we just laugh at it and dance?
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Friday, January 22, 2010
I was listening to Forum on KQED/NPR this morning driving my cat home from the vet and heard about an exciting new show that will air next Monday night at 10pm called "Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders." I didn't get to hear the whole report (a cat in a carrier is not a happy cat), but I am very excited about this show.
Producer Marco Werman and international correspondents Alexis Bloom, Arun Rath and Mirissa Neff have created a show that will take viewers on journeys of discovery from the bayous of Louisiana to the backstreets of Havana, from the nightclubs of Paris to desert music festivals in Mali. They'll interview everyone from Rock 'n Roll Hall of Famers to Bollywood singers, violin virtuosos to bluegrass musicians. It's not just good music they are looking for, but good stories behind the music.
Friday, May 22, 2009
If you're in the market for some African grooves tonight, check out BLK JKS from South Africa at the Independent or NOMO from Ann Arbor, Michigan at Bottom of the Hill.
Returning to the United States after a short tour earlier this year BLK JKS (Black Jacks, for those of you, like me, who might be a little slow) has been called the "African TV on the Radio," (who is coincidently playing at the Fox tonight). Judging only from their single "Lakeside" (video below) that's what I thought too. But after seeing them live at the Rickshaw Stop in March, they are way more than that. Add a little prog rock and a jam band vibe and maybe call it: "afro-avant-noise-rock."
NPR has said that their single "Lakeside" "has a drumbeat even Radiohead would be jealous of." I think this might be the way that African music is going, and it's exciting. Read More at Examiner and to watch videos...
Monday, March 16, 2009
If you're in the market for some African grooves, check out BLK JKS from South Africa and Nomo from Ann Arbor, Michigan.