In the spirit of the holiday season and Junkanoo parties around the world I share with you an incredible interview with the legendary Bahamian musician Raphael Munnings (posted on Youtube by the man himself!), who breaks down his families rich musical and political history, the unprecedented musical feats of his band The Beginning Of The End, and of course their jumping Junkanoo roots. Rather than bump my gums, I’ll let Ray speak for himself. Be sure to check all fours clips in sequential order, as some heavy history is dropped chronologically. Take it away Ray!
when I was a teenager before I had status and before I had a pager, or email, or facebook, or twitter, or gps, or blogs…
I recently celebrated my 38th birthday, which is always a good time to reflect back on one’s life. I have plenty to be grateful for: loving parents, a beautiful wife, inspiring friends, etc, but I’m also grateful to have just been old enough to have been a young adult before the last 15 years of technology. I say grateful because before all this “interconnectedness”, when there was something great going on right in front of you, there was nothing to do but connect with it.
We see it all the time now. At every live show there’s people with their illuminated faces looking downward at their phones and tablets while scrolling, texting, tweeting, deciding which filter to use for their Instagram photo with amazing music going on right in front of them. Contrast all that with this live footage from 1981 of Ti Mano and Gemini All-Stars recorded at a gymnasium in Haiti, and tell me who has it better?
Be sure to keep watching through the 2nd part of this long video with Ti Mano performing with the D.P. Express at the Château Royal (10:15 mark). More amazing music!
As always enjoy and don’t ever forget how to lose yourself in music.
My sweet Pelanga brothers have encouraged me to post again, after a long hiatus. Today I’m going to drop you two tracks that I have sworn to mix together, and one day hope to gift you in a sweet mixtape.
Part 1: Lapaz Toyota – Guru (Ghana)
What do you expect to see when you hear “Lapaz Toyota”? Tunda said it makes him think of a Bolivian mototaxi dealership. It turns out Lapaz is an area of Accra, Ghana – working class. It’s not every day a music video shows women swooning or dancing on top of crappy cars. I did a bit of looking around and apparently the song is about being happy with what you have – it deliberately counters imagery that implies fancy cars and happiness are connected. Watch the moves, they come in around 1:30.
This video has been making rounds like wildfire on the interwebs, and my friend sent it to me a day after I came across Lapaz Toyota. Gangnam is also a neighbourhood – but in contrast with Lapaz, it’s one of the shwankiest districts of Seoul, South Korea. Now, if you look closely at a few of the moves, you _will_ see some similarity to the Azonto, I swear. And that’s not the only similarity you’ll spot: watch for similar shots, little kids breaking out some sick moves, and comment on anything else you spy!
My fellow pelangueros know that every time I go to Bogota, I come back raving about some incredibly magical musical experience, the kind that you couldn’t have planned, the kind that you probably shouldn’t try to repeat, the kind that made us want to start La Pelanga in the first place. This obviously says more about the incredible depth and breadth of Colombian music today than about my luck. During my trip last month, which was beautiful in more ways than one, I really felt like I was witnessing a historical moment.
Ondatropica’s album drops tomorrow (7/16). It is an incredible blend of cumbia, salsa, currulao, funk, ska, and even a Black Sabbath cover, with guest appearances by Fruko, Anibal Velasquez, Ana Tijoux, and many others. You can hear the whole album right here. But buy it! Show some gratitude, no?
If you’re lucky enough to be in London (7/20, 7/22), New York (7/27), Los Angeles (7/29), Oristano (8/3), or Berlin (8/4), go see them! Details here.
Longtime followers of this blog may recall us promoting our amazing musical homies Las Cafeteras over the past few years. Since then they’ve contintued to bring their liberating music, combining tradtional Son Jarocho with alternative sounds of L.A. to many new ears. Checkout their version of the Son Jarocho classic La Bamba.
Straight out of East L.A. they are now getting their bags packed to travel to the 2012 Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York this summer. All the while they are have been working hard in the studio blending their pounding afro-mexican rhthyms and uplifiting lyrics into their first album. In order to fund their trip to NYC and to finish their debut CD they started a Kick Starter fund and they are just a few hundred dollars short of reaching their goal of $11,000.
TAKE A MINUTE TO WATCH THEIR VIDEO and if you feel as half as inspired as we do by their project back them like we all have.
Sometimes I think that Joe Arroyo’s crazy versatility is one reason why he was not even more famous outside of Colombia. He was a massive salsero, but he was so much more than that! Hardcore salseros often like their music a bit more predictable. You never know where El Joe is gonna take you, or how you’re supposed to dance there. (But that won’t stop you – who else can get a bunch of stiff bogotanos to dance mapalé?)
I was thinking about this, and I remembered the stories of the Festival del Caribe in Cartagena in the early 90s where Joe Arroyo got onstage, completely unrehearsed, to trade verses with Haiti’s Rara Machine, Zaire’s Loketo, and a group from Cuba (forget which) one after the other. We thought we were pretty original when we started La Pelanga 3 years ago, to bring all these musics to the same space. But this man beat us by about 15 years! Well, we can still try our best.
Here’s Sheila Degraff with Clifford Sylvain from Rara Machine. (Short attention span? Your patience will be rewarded.)
And Loketo! Superstars of “TGV soukous” (the branch of soukous named after the French high-speed rail system), huge Pelanga favorites, and the only band I know to feature a car-honking solo:
In the comments of Papicultor’s excellent previous post of Ogyatanna Show Band he requested another 10 min African burner. Well this is about hot as they come. The one and only Lita Bembo et L’Orchestre Stukas Mombombo. Known in the 70s as just Orchestre Stukas, they started out in Kinshasa, Zaire as a pure James Brown cover band. Unlike their famous contemporaries Zaïko Lang Langa and O.K. Jazz who played in the downtown clubs they took to the strategy of playing in the outskirt rural areas for those who couldn’t afford to see the big acts in the city. This proved wise as they gained a big following to the point that the government actually had them performing daily on TV as a way to keep kids off the streets. Their popularity even gained them a spot at the legendary 3 day concert event — Zaire 74 (the famous concert that coincided with the Muhammad Ali – George Forman fight “Rumble in the Jungle”, which featured: Miram Makeba, The Fania All-Stars, BB King, Tabu Ley Rochereau, Bill Withers and James Brown.)
I’m not even sure where to begin to describe this song Dina.
If you close your eyes while listening you’ll likely have some strong visions like being in a cramped humid Kinshasa cinder block walled club, or perhaps some alternate world filled inter-galactic travelers who offer you a draw off their colorful hookah pipe. Whatever it is, if you’re anything like us pelangueros by half way through the song you’ll have all your furniture pushed out of the way, the volume up twice as high and be dancing wildly all over the place. Adjoa, I hope you like this one too. Enjoy!
And here they are performing “Mombomo Dominé” from one of their many TV performances. These guys are just nuts!