Music in the Key of C-19
This Time Last Year ...we were recovering from the annual Fiddlers Green Festival ... what a difference a year makes. It has been very strange coming to the end of July without seeing all our friends from around the world who regularly have their holiday here in Rostrevor.
But this year we have all learned how to cope with the virtual world. And for the most part we have enjoyed it here in this house and we certainly feel a lot more rested with less travelling. We are very aware of how lucky we are living where we do and hope that you are all safe and well wherever you are in the world.
Until we meet again, stay safe. We hope you and your families and loved ones are all keeping well and happy. Love and blessings from the shores of Carlingford Lough, Fil and Tom
I hope you are all feeling healthy and well in these unusual Corona times! For quite some time now, medical experts have agreed that listening to Music has many health benefits. In particular, music reduces stress and anxiety, decreases pain, improves immune functioning, aids memory and, of course, helps us exercise! (Well, some of us!). Neuroscientists have discovered that listening to music lights up almost every area of the brain, heightening positive emotion and calming people down even during highly stressful or painful events. And singing or learning to play an instrument bring many further benefits!
Whether a performer or a listener, I think we can all agree that the world would be a much poorer place without music, and many are feeling the loss of live performances in these strange times. But, thankfully, the marvels of modern technology can still bring “live” music into our homes through the medium of the Internet, and I’d like to invite you to listen and sing along – across the miles and kilometres – with another Home Concert from where I live in Ireland.
I’m getting excited about the “Gift of Song“ idea! The idea is that I film a 10-minute video, especially for you, or for someone special in your life. The video will include a unique version of your favourite Ben Sands song, plus a personal greeting from me - for a special occasion, e.g. Birthday, Anniversary, Christmas - or for no reason at all! Learn more at bensands.com/song-gift!
Look in and say hello! Best wishes, Ben Sands
The news has just broken that the cost of a touring US Visa is to increase by 50%. Oh dear American pals... Global pandemic aside that's made the most expensive and difficult visa to obtain 50% more expensive. Before the expense of buying a flight, hiring a car, an overnight trip Belfast/London to get the visa, fuel, accommodation, food, excess baggage for my guitar case... before all that... a US Visa sets each musician back between $500 and $1500 depending on the lawyers fees... I was quoted £5000 last year for performing visa that would last two weeks.
It's really sad because I would love to tour in the USA again. Cheers, Findlay Napier
Global Music Match Unites 14 Music Export Programs
96 artists from 14 countries are taking part in what could be the largest online matchmaking of musicians ever undertaken.
Global Music Match is a pilot initiative created to continue raising the profile of local artists in international music markets within the challenging parameters of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is a unique response to the limitations imposed on the music industry, that makes use of one of the only available platforms – social media and peer-to-peer collaboration – to increase networks and exposure for export-ready artists internationally.
Breaking artists into a new territory or country is a challenging process, exacerbated by the pandemic as traditional international showcasing opportunities reduce. This programme aims to develop new audience bases for artists in a range of international locations, providing a groundwork for future international touring development. The programme will also support participating artists to upskill their social media activity, as well as encourage cross border artist collaboration by connecting musicians from around the world.
Each week, one band/musician from each country ‘introduced’ another artist from a different country, engaging with them on social media to cross promote to their audiences. This is reciprocated for everyone involved, meaning that participating artists will be presented via social networks across a range of participating international artist’s online audiences. For the pilot edition of Global Music Match, artists are steeped in the acoustic, folk, roots, traditional and world music genres.
Lisa Whytock of Showcase Scotland Expo, one of the founding organisations said: “The idea came about on a zoom call between myself and Millie Millgate of Sounds Australia several months ago. We have since seen it grow to include so many export organisations and all of us have been meeting regularly to develop the initiative. It's great that we can all still connect through social media and we are really looking forward to seeing how all the artists work together. Most of them will never have met and many never have toured in the other countries, so it really is going to establish new international connections”
Search for the hashtag #globalmusicmatch to see some of the examples of the content each act shared during the pilot initiative – or head to www.globalmusicmatch.com to learn more.
Fairport’s Cropredy Convention
Fairport’s Cropredy Convention receives lifeline grant from Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund
Fairport’s Cropredy Convention music festival has been awarded £200,000 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future. Fairport’s Cropredy Convention is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced today as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. Gareth Williams, Cropredy’s Festival Organiser, said: “We have all seen how hard this Covid pandemic has hit the festival industry; 2020 has basically been a write-off. This most welcome grant from the CRF secures the future of our festival for 2021 and will help us cover any additional costs of providing extra safety measures we will need to put in place next summer. We can now plan ahead for 2021 with fresh confidence.”
The annual music festival, Fairport’s Cropredy Convention, has been postponed until August next year. The move is in response to the continuing Covid-19 outbreak in the UK.
The three-day event had been scheduled to take place on 13-15 August this year. It will now be staged over 12, 13 and 14 August 2021 (the equivalent weekend) on its usual farmland site in Oxfordshire.
The line-up of acts will be carried forward: artists booked to appear this year have agreed to switch to 2021. Highlights include Trevor Horn Band, Clannad, Steve Hackett – Genesis Revisited, Richard Thompson, Matthews Southern Comfort and host band Fairport Convention.
Festival Director Gareth Williams said: “We have no alternative but to postpone Cropredy until 2021. The safety of our festival-goers, performers, suppliers, crew and local residents must come first.”
Tickets purchased for Cropredy 2020 remain valid for the rescheduled festival and Fairport Convention hopes festival-goers will hang on to their tickets for Cropredy 2021. However, the organisers are of course offering refunds to those affected by the postponement.
“The postponement is a financial blow to Fairport Convention,” says Gareth Williams, “so we urge everyone to keep their tickets and join us for a great weekend of music in 2021.”
Shirley Elizabeth Collins (*5 July 1935, Hastings, Sussex, England). English folk singer Shirley Collins was a significant contributor to the English Folk Revival of the 1960s and 1970s. 1967 saw the essentially southern English song collection, The Sweet Primeroses, with Collins accompanied by her sister Dolly's portative organ which created a unique setting for her austere singing style. In the late 70s, the painful divorce from her second husband Ashley Hutchings was followed by the loss of her voice, leading to her retirement from music. In 2014, Collins sang for the first time for many years. She returned to recording and released the album Lodestar in 2016, followed in 2020 by Heart's Ease. The album included re-recordings of songs she had sung in her twenties.
Angélique Kidjo (*14 July 1960, Ouidah, Benin). Singer-songwriter Angélique Kpasseloko Hinto Hounsinou Kandjo Manta Zogbin Kidjo is noted for her diverse musical influences and creative music videos. Time magazine called her "Africa's premier diva". Kidjo often uses Benin's traditional Zilin vocal technique and vocalese, but her musical influences include Afropop, Caribbean zouk, Congolese rumba, jazz, gospel, and Latin styles. Her latest album is a tribute to Cuban singer Celia Cruz reinvented with an Afrobeat feel. Kidjo has also been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002.
Iain MacDonald (*28 July 1960, Glenuig, Moidart, Lochaber, Scotland). One of the trio of piping MacDonald brothers from Glenuig in Moidart (Allan and Angus), Iain MacDonald at age 18 became a founder member of the first Gaelic theatre company, Fir Chlis, based on Harris. When funding was withdrawn at the beginning of the 80s, he joined the newly formed folk group Ossian, playing with them for nine years. Extra-curricular activities included co-founding folk-rockers Wolfstone, before joining the Battlefield Band, in which he formed a powerful front-line with the young fiddler John McCusker. In 1997 Iain left Battlefield but continued to perform, not least with fiddler Iain MacFarlane, and to do production work (Julie Fowlis, Dàimh, his brother Allan’s recordings with Margaret Stewart). He now teaches on the Gaelic Language and Music course at Colaisde Bheinn na Faoghla, the Benbecula campus of the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Lews Castle College.
Declan Sinnott (*29 July 1950, Wexford, Ireland).
Around 1970 guitarist Declan Sinnott was a member of the poetry-and-music group Tara Telephone. He and percussionist Eamon Carr
left to form the Celtic Rock band Horslips, which Sinnott left before the recording of Horslips' first album.
In the 1980s, he was a member of Moving Hearts. He has been working with Christy Moore for almost 30 years.
Rodney Crowell (*7 August 1950, Houston, Texas, USA). Although best known as an alternative country artist influenced by Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell has enjoyed some mainstream popularity. His critically acclaimed album 1988's Diamonds & Dirt produced five consecutive No. 1 singles. He has won two Grammy Awards, one in 1990 for Best Country Song and one in 2014for Best Americana Album (Old Yellow Moon). In 2019, Crowell received the Poet's Award from the Academy of Country Music for his achievements in songwriting.
Steve Martin (*14 August 1945, Waco, Texas, USA).
He came to public notice in the 1960s as a stand-up comedian, and has become a successful actor since the 1980s.
Steve Martin picked up the banjo when he was 17 and learned how to play with the help from John McEuen, who later joined the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
He has increasingly dedicated his career to music since the 2000s,
In 2001, he played on Earl Scruggs's remake of "Foggy Mountain Breakdown", which won a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance in 2002.
In 2009, he released his debut solo album, The Crow: New Songs for the 5-String Banjo,
for which he won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.
In 2011, he narrated the documentary Give me the Banjo chronicling the history of the banjo in America.
In 2010, Steve Martin also created the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, established to bring greater visibility
to bluegrass performers; recipients include Noam Pikelny of the Punch Brothers, Rhiannon Giddens, Kristin Scott Benson and Jake Blount (see below).
Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin (*23 August 1950, County Louth, Ireland).
In 1994, Irish singer Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin recorded her debut album, A Stór is a Stóirín, featuring 36 songs with an emphasis on songs suitable for primary school children.
Her book, A Hidden Ulster, featured 540 pages of rare songs and their histories of the folk traditions of southeast Ulster and the Oriel area in particular.
In 2011, she released Songs of the Scribe, a collaboration with poets Ciaran Carson and Seamus Heaney on editing and translating song-poems from ancient Irish
manuscripts. In 2017, she released the double album, Ceoltaí Oirialla: Songs of Oriel, to coincide with the launch of the Oriel Arts Project, an online research and
multimedia project. In 2018, she was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Traditional Music Award at Gradam Ceoil TG4.
Currently she is composing devotional and spiritual music in the traditional style, releasing the new song ‘Beannú’ as an invocation of blessing in late August 2020.
Pádraigín is the sister of the late singer Eithne Ní Uallacháin and aunt to Eithne's sons Dónal O'Connor (At First Light).
Eliza Gilkyson (*24 August 1950, Hollywood, California, USA). Austin, Texas-based folk musician Eliza Gilkyson is the daughter of songwriter Terry Gilkyson, who wrote several hits in the 1950s and early 1960s (including "The Bare Necessities" from the 1967 animated Disney film The Jungle Book). She released her debut album, Eliza '69, in 1969 while raising a family, and did not follow with a second until ten years later. She has been with Red House Records since 2000. Her latest recording, entitled 2020, is a blend of new and old, reflecting the protests and activism that have defined her generation. “Beach Haven” has been adapted from a letter written by Woody Guthrie in 1952 to Fred Trump, who at the time was his landlord, regarding his segregationist renter policies. Woody pleaded to Trump to “open your doors” and “rip out the strangling red tape” that kept the apartment from embracing all races.
Van Morrison (*31 August 1945, Belfast, Northern Ireland). George Ivan Morrison's professional career began as a teenager in the late 1950s, playing with various Irish showbands. He rose to prominence in the mid-1960s as the lead singer of the Northern Irish R&B and rock band, Them, with whom he recorded the hit singles "Gloria", "Here Comes the Night" and "It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue". His solo career began in 1967 with the release of "Brown Eyed Girl". Much of Morrison's music is structured around soul music and R&B; another part of his catalogue consists of lengthy, spiritually inspired musical journeys that show the influence of the Celtic tradition, jazz and stream-of-consciousness narrative, sometimes referred to as "Celtic Soul". In 1988, he released "Irish Heartbeat", a collection of traditional Irish folk songs recorded with the Irish group The Chieftains. In November 2019, Morrison released his 41st studio album, "Three Chords & the Truth".
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Van Morrison was against social distancing as quoted, “Come forward, stand up, fight the pseudo-science and speak up.” Morrison released three new songs in September 2020, which had messages of protest against the COVID-19 lockdowns in the UK. Morrison accused the UK government of "taking our freedom". Subsequently, he has been called a "covidiot", and there have been calls for Belfast City Council to revoke his Freedom of the City honour. City councillor Emmet McDonough-Brown said that his lyrics were "undermining the guidance in place to protect lives and are ignorant of established science as we grapple with Covid-19."
Simon Nicol (*13 October 1950, Muswell Hill, North London, England).
In 1966, guitarist Simon John Breckenridge Nicol was asked to join local band the Ethnic Shuffle Orchestra by bass guitarist Ashley Hutchings.
They rehearsed above his father's old surgery in Fairport House, which gave its name to the band he and Hutchings formed with Richard Thompson
and Shaun Frater as Fairport Convention in 1967. He is the only founding member still in the band, sharing vocal duties and organising the Cropredy Festival (see above).
He has also been involved with the Albion Band and regularly rejoins the now suspended group for their Albion Christmas tours.
Billy Joe Shaver (1939-2020).
Texas country music singer-songwriter Billy Joe Shaver died on October 28, 2020, from a massive stroke.
When working at a lumber mill, he lost the better part of two fingers.
He eventually taught himself to play the guitar without those missing fingers.
His songwriting came to the attention of Waylon Jennings, who filled most of his album Honky Tonk Heroes with Shaver's songs. Other artists, including Elvis Presley
and Kris Kristofferson, began to record his music.
He is also known for his hit Live Forever, which Robert Duvall performs in the movie Crazy Heart.
In 2006, Shaver was inducted in the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame. The Americana Music Convention awarded him their Lifetime Achievement Award in Songwriting.
He later served as spiritual advisor to Texas independent gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman.
»Our thoughts are with the family of legendary songwriter and outlaw-country music pioneer, Billy Joe Shaver. Having written some of the greatest songs in the genre, his legacy will undoubtedly continue through the music we know and love. Listen to some of our favorite Billy Joe Shaver tracks.« - New West Records
Jerry Jeff Walker (1942-2020).
Jerry Jeff Walker (born Ronald Clyde Crosby) died of throat cancer on October 23, 2020.
He was best known for having written the 1968 hit "Mr. Bojangles", later covered from Bob Dylan and Nina Simone to Neil Diamond and Sammy Davis, Jr.
He settled in Austin, Texas, in the 1970s, associating mainly with the outlaw country scene that included artists such as
Willie Nelson, Guy Clark, Waylon Jennings and Townes Van Zandt.
Mac Davis (1942-2020). Award-winning Texas singer/songwriter Morris Mac Davis passed away on September 29th following heart surgery. During a five-decade career, Davis had many hits of his own, wrote “In the Ghetto” for Elvis and a multitude for the likes of Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Tom Jones, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Nancy Sinatra, Bruno Mars, Avicii, to name just a few.
Justin Townes Earle (1982-2020).
Justin Townes Earle died on August 20, 2020, in Nashville, Tennessee, at the age of 38.
He had developed a hybrid style of music mixing folk, blues and country.
His father Steve Earle, who gave him his middle name in honor of his own mentor Townes van Zandt,
will be releasing an album consisting of songs written by Justin. 100% of the royalties will be placed in a trust for Justin’s daughter.
Michael Peter Smith (1941-2020). Chicago-based singer-songwriter Michael Peter Smith died from colon cancer on August 3, 2020. He is best known for writing "The Dutchman", which was popularized by Steve Goodman. Song Talk Magazine once commented that "hearing the songs of Michael Smith in this day and age is like reading an anthology of short stories by Hemingway after decades of only comic books."
Jarno Sarkula (1973-2020). At only age 47, Finnish musician Jarno Sarkula passed away on July 12. He first became known with the band Höyry-kone (i.e. Steam-Engine), playing bass and woodwinds. In 1997, Sarkula co-founded the band Alamaailman Vasarat (Hammers of the Underworld), which specialised in fast-paced instrumental music taking influences from jazz, classical music, rock and klezmer, sometimes jokingly referred to as “Acoustic Heavy Metal”. The group disbanded in 2014 when Sarkula became pre-occupied with compositional work for the gaming industry. He already had been the host of PC game-oriented shows on cable TV under the moniker “Kreivi Stakula” (Count Stakula).
Judy Dyble (1949–2020). Judy Dyble had been the original vocalist with Fairport Convention from 1967 to 1968. The group recorded their debut album with Judy. She afterwards contributed to demo recordings of pop band Giles, Giles and Fripp, who would later evolve into the progressive rock band King Crimson. Dyble would go on to become one half of the duo Trader Horne with ex-Them member Jackie McAuley. In 1973, Dyble left the music business altogether. She began writing and performing again not until 2003. Dyble died on 12 July 2020 from lung cancer. Her latest recording, Between A Breath And A Breath ft. David Longdon, was posthumously released in September.
Eric Taylor (1949-2020).
Known for his storytelling style combining spoken word with anecdotal songs to create a theater-style performance, Texas
singer-songwriter Eric Taylor has released seven albums. His songs have been recorded by Nanci Griffith
(Taylor was married to her from 1976 to 1982), Lyle Lovett and others.
He toured extensively and conducted songwriting workshops throughout the United States and Europe.
He died on March 9, 2020 from liver disease.
2 AWARDS FOR GAIZCA PROJECT
We are very proud to announce that GAIZCA PROJECT has received :
- Coups de Choeur 2020 deAcadémie Charles Cros - logo / France
- The award of best World Music album 2019 from Indie Acoustic Project / USA
A creation at the crossroads of the musical traditions of Galicia, the Basque Country and Catalonia … with a nod to the aranés, official language of Val d’Aran. A resolutely festive project, a large bowl of positive energy, a parenthesis of “Alegria e Liberta”, in this troubled world, where respect, tolerance and expression of differences are shaken from all sides ; a repertoire invites the public to singing and dancing.
IALMA : voices, pandereita, pandeiro, lata, cunchas Iñaki PLAZA : trikitixa, txalaparta Manu SABATÉ : gralla, tenora Ciscu CARDONA: voice, guitar Nicolas SCALLIET : drums, txalaparta
Jake Blount Wins 2020 Steve Martin Banjo Prize
Washington DC's own Jake Blount has just won the "Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo & Bluegrass." Hosted by the FreshGrass Foundation, Steve Martin's Banjo Prize has now expanded to five awardees this year with a total of $50,000 divided between them. Jake is the second Black artist to receive the Banjo Prize after Rhiannon Giddens, and his win comes with the reminder that the Banjo is first and foremost an African and African-American instrument. Jake's new album Spider Tales foregrounded Black and Indigenous stories in Appalachian music, pulling forth centuries of pain and anger that had been coded into the music.
Jake Blount had this to say: "I've known about the Steve Martin Banjo Prize since I stumbled upon previous recipient Noam Pikelny's work at the beginning of my slow voyage from rock music to bluegrass and old-time. In the intervening years I saw it go to seemingly untouchable musical talents, including my inspiring friends Rhiannon Giddens and Victor Furtado, and my respect for the committee and the prize only deepened. I'm not sure I'll ever feel like I can match the technical skill or musical vision of the other awardees I so admire, but I can say I'm profoundly touched to know that the banjo legends and respected industry professionals on the award committee even know I exist. That they found my music deserving of such recognition means more than I can say."
For as long as it’s existed, the American music industry has obsessed over Black music, co-opting it into a package to be marketed and resold. Many Black perspectives deemed too threatening were defanged or erased in the process—particularly in genres like country, bluegrass, and folk, which draw on African-American sources but are usually performed by and for white people. Banjo player and fiddler Jake Blount resurrects those perspectives on his new album, Spider Tales. He’s digging deep into the roots of the music, pushing all the way back to Africa; the album’s title, Spider Tales, is a nod to the great trickster of Akan mythology, Anansi. “The Anansi stories were tales that celebrated unseating the oppressor,” Blount says, “and finding ways to undermine those in power even if you’re not in a position to initiate a direct conflict.” Blount is also drawing out the coded pain and anger in the songs to give voice to those who were shunned from America's musical canon. “There’s a long history of expressions of pain in the African-American tradition,” Blount says. “Often those things couldn’t be stated outright. If you said the wrong thing to the wrong person back then you could die from it, but the anger and the desire for justice are still there. They’re just hidden. The songs deal with intense emotion but couch it in a love song or in religious imagery so that it wasn’t something you could be called out about. These ideas survived because people in power weren’t perceiving the messages, but they’re there if you know where to look.” Blount is determined to show that this music didn't form in a vacuum, but in the face of ruinous hardship.
The songs of Spider Tales are focused on retribution and pursued by loss. It’s this sense of doom that dovetails with Blount’s own experience as a queer activist starting in high school. “I realized later that many of the songs on the album are about losing people,” he says, “about saying goodbye. The side effect from working with LGBT youth is that a lot of us don’t make it to adulthood or go through terrible things along the way. Going through late high school and college right when I started to make the transition into folk and old-time music, every few months someone would just die. People would just drop off the map. I’d realize I hadn’t heard about someone for a while, so I’d reach out to a mutual friend and then find they’re homeless.” When he interprets Leadbelly’s classic song “Where Did You Sleep Last Night”, to Blount these lyrics speak of friends rendered homeless, a starkly different interpretation than the usual jaded love song most singers interpret. Blount realized that this same sense of loss pervades the African-American songs and history on the album. “Connecting with my family history and my father’s childhood history, he’d talk about people disappearing. Those lynchings didn’t all happen in broad daylight; my dad talked about people in his community ‘disappearing’ and you’d kind of assume what had happened. For me there was a very direct connection between what I’d gone through in the queer community and this narrative of disappearance and loss that surrounded the Black community in the South throughout much of our nation’s history, and still arguably does.”
On Spider Tales, Jake Blount has assembled a band of mostly queer artists, including himself, to showcase these fourteen tracks. This reflects a recent sea change in Appalachian music that’s seen queer artists and artists of color rise to greater visibility than anyone thought possible. Blount himself has twice won the famed Appalachian String Band Festival competition in Clifftop, WV—the first time a Black artist had won in his categories—and in 2019 queer artists and artists of color swept the top spots at the awards. It’s a sign of hope for Appalachian mountain music—a sign that voices once lost to these traditions are finally being heard.
31st Annual IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards
Sister Sadie – Tina Adair, Dale Ann Bradley, Gena Britt and Deanie Richardson – won the coveted “Entertainer of the Year” Award at the 31st Annual IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards presented by Count On Me NC. The IBMA Bluegrass Music Awards presented by Count On Me NC, hosted by Sierra Hull, Joe Newberry, Tim O’Brien and Rhonda Vincent, was streamed online as part of IBMA Virtual World of Bluegrass. Awards were voted on by the professional membership of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA).
ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR: Sister Sadie VOCAL GROUP OF THE YEAR: Sister Sadie INSTRUMENTAL GROUP OF THE YEAR: Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper SONG OF THE YEAR: “Chicago Barn Dance” - Special Consensus with Michael Cleveland & Becky Buller ALBUM OF THE YEAR: Live in Prague, Czech Republic – Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver GOSPEL RECORDING OF THE YEAR: “Gonna Rise and Shine” – Alan Bibey & Grasstowne INSTRUMENTAL RECORDING OF THE YEAR: “Tall Fiddler" – Michael Cleveland with Tommy Emmanuel NEW ARTIST OF THE YEAR: Mile Twelve COLLABORATIVE RECORDING OF THE YEAR: “The Barber’s Fiddle” FEMALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR: Brooke Aldridge MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR: Danny Paisley BANJO PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Scott Vestal BASS PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Missy Raines RESOPHONIC GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Justin Moses FIDDLE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Deanie Richardson GUITAR PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jake Workman MANDOLIN PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Alan Bibey
Additionally, the show featured a segment honoring the recipients of the 2020 Distinguished Achievement Awards: festival pioneers Norman & Judy Adams, “Musicians Against Childhood Cancer” (MACC) founders Darrel & Phyllis Adkins, fiddle virtuoso/educator Darol Anger, San Diego’s KSON “Bluegrass Special” host Wayne Rice, and bluegrass innovator Jack Tottle.
The Momentum Awards, hosted this year by Stephen Mougin, and sponsored by the California Bluegrass Association and Canadian Consulate, focus on artists and industry professionals who are in the early stages of their bluegrass music careers. There are four performance awards: one each for Band and Vocalist, and two for Instrumentalist. Two more awards recognize industry achievement: Industry Involvement, and Mentor. The Mentor Award is the one Momentum Award that recognizes veteran bluegrass professionals, where they have made significant contributions fostering excellence in young bluegrass performers and members of the industry.
Industry Involvement: Kris Truelsen Mentor: Annie Savage Instrumentalist: Thomas Cassell, Tabitha Agnew Vocalist: Melody Williamson Band: The Slocan Ramblers
Unsigned Only Music Competition 2020
The winners of the US-based Unsigned Only Music Competition were announced. The overall 2020 Grand Prize is awarded to the Haitian world music artist Jean Belony Murat, known as BélO. Hailed as Haiti's musical ambassador to the world, BélO is a socially conscious singer/songwriter whose music reflects the issues and challenges facing his home country. BélO has always been committed to the causes of the less fortunate, the education of children, women’s rights, social solidarity, environmental protection, and peace in Haiti and around the world. His social activism is especially significant during these challenging times and exposes the enormous contradictions and inequalities of our societies. “Haiti has a lot to offer to the rest of the world, and our culture reflects the beauty of its diversity,” said BélO. “When we are united there’s not much that we can’t achieve. As always I am proud to represent my country and to share my music with the world. I would like to extend my gratitude to the fans who supported me and carried me throughout the years.”
BélO’s sound is a mixture of world, rock, reggae, jazz, and Afro-Haitian traditional rhythms known as “ragganga.” Born in Croix-des-Bouquets, near Port-au-Prince, BélO was only 11 years old when he realized he wanted to be a professional musician. For him, it was seemingly his destiny because music was everywhere: in his home, on the streets, and all over Haiti. His first album was released in 2005, and since then he has performed all over the world, garnering accolades and multiple awards, including winning the prestigious "Prix Radio France International Discoveries” award. “BélO’s message is so relevant right now; it speaks to the turbulent and challenging times in which we all live,” said Founders/Directors Candace Avery and Jim Morgan. “His message of unity and peace resonates now more than ever.”
Grand Prize BélO (Port-Au-Prince, Haiti) – “EDA” Americana First Place: Brit Taylor (Hindman, KY, USA) – “Waking Up Ain't Easy” Second Place: Big Little Lions (Royston, BC, Canada) – “Against The Wall” Country First Place: Sonia Leigh (Nashville, TN, USA) – “Jack Is Back” Second Place: Buck Twenty (Harrow, ON, Canada) – “All I Can Do” Folk/Singer-Songwriter First Place: Kelson (Atlanta, GA, USA) – “Holy Smoke” Second Place: Sahara Beck (Fortitude Valley, QLD, Australia) – “21st Century” World Music First Place: Jaja Bashengezi (Bukavu, Democratic Republic of The Congo) – “Fata Katibu” Second Place: OYME (Pushkino, Russia) – “Vaya” Fandemonium (public online vote) Winner: BélO (Port-Au-Prince, Haiti) – “EDA”
Unsigned Only is designed for solo artists, bands, and singers all over the world who are looking for exposure, recognition, and a chance to be noticed by industry professionals. The goal of Unsigned Only is to find an outstanding, talented performer: a band, singer, or solo artist...a newcomer or veteran...raw or polished - the “gem” that needs to be discovered.
Transglobal World Music Chart | Best of 2019-2020 Season
Best of the Year chart becomes Best of the Season. It’ll be announced in September every year from now on, taking into account the monthly charts between September of the previous year and August of the current year.
BEST ALBUM Aziza Brahim · Sahari · Glitterbeat BEST OF NORTH AFRICA & MIDDLE EAST Aziza Brahim · Sahari · Glitterbeat BEST OF SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA Tamikrest · Tamotaït · Glitterbeat BEST OF NORTH & CENTRAL AMERICA Lakou Mizik · HaitiaNola · Cumbancha BEST OF EUROPE Damir Imamović · Singer of Tales · Wrasse BEST TRANSREGIONAL ALBUM Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn · Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn · Smithsonian Folkways Recordings BEST OF ASIA (CENTRAL & EAST) & PACIFIC Minyo Crusaders · Echoes of Japan · Mais Um BEST COMPILATION V.A. · Léve Léve: São Tomé & Príncipe Sounds 70s-80s · Les Disques Bongo Joe BEST OF SOUTH AMERICA Lido Pimienta · Miss Colombia · Anti- TWMC 2019-2020 SEASON TOP 100 ALBUMS 1. Aziza Brahim · Sahari · Glitterbeat 2. Tamikrest · Tamotait · Glitterbeat 3. Lakou Mizik · HaitiaNola · Cumbancha 4. Aynur · Hedûr / Solace of Time · The Orchard / Dreyer & Gaido 5. Asmâa Hamzaoui & Bnat Timbouktou · Oulad Lghaba · Ajabu! 6. Damir Imamović · Singer of Tales · Wrasse 7. Sam Lee · Old Wow · Cooking Vinyl 8. Lina_Raül Refree · Lina_Raül Refree · Glitterbeat 9. Maria Mazzotta · Amoreamaro · Agualoca 10. Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn · Wu Fei & Abigail Washburn · Smithsonian Folkways Recordings ...
Transglobal World Music Chart (TWMC) is a network of world music specialised journalists, critics, writers, DJs... from all the continents, that produces a monthly chart, according to quality criteria, selecting the best recent world music albums from all over the world.
Bri Murphy: The Surprising Reason We Don't Value the Arts
A few years back in late summer, I sat waiting in a band van on a horse farm somewhere in West Virginia. There was a hint of fall outdoors, with views of perfectly manicured lawns and polished copper statues of stallions with their manes blowing in the breeze. Sound check was another hour or so away, and the members of the wedding band were given explicit instructions that we were to be seen on the premises as little as possible, and could we maybe just stay in our van until it was time to play? "Time to play" was six or seven hours away from that moment, and thankfully I was working under a bandleader who stuck up for us and suggested an outdoor green room of sorts. He also pointed out that our contract included dinner, to which the wedding planner stared at him, eyes wide, mouth agape. She hemmed and hawed and mumbled something about "getting back to us". Getting back to us ended up being given TV dinners and instructed to use the microwave in the catering kitchen, and eat outdoors behind the kitchen please, yes, next to the porta potties for the kitchen staff, and for glory's sake, make sure none of the guests see you.
That evening continued to get more and more memorable, as we were instructed not to load out until catering was done packing up, which brought us to about 2am. At that point, everyone in the band was drunk except for me, and it was pouring rain outside. After loading out our gear and swatting away a few lingering intoxicated wedding guests, I got in the driver's seat around 3:30am and navigated a 16-passenger van with a trailer through curvy West Virginia mountain roads in the pouring rain, finally got on the interstate, and promptly blew a tire. One more blown tire and two AAA rescues later, we made it home, and ever since then let's suffice it to say I am *very picky* about the 16-passenger van situations I enter.
Anyway. This blase attitude towards working musicians is something that has always confused me, but one which every working musician/creative type has a myriad of stories to illustrate.
Then, last week, after I finished Weber's The Protestant Ethic, something clicked. The Protestant Reformation ushered in a paradigm that systematically devalues cultural goods. Let's roll this back a few hundred years. The Reformation birthed the concept in Christianity of predestination. This is the idea that some folks are saved, some are not, and no one can know whether or not they truly belong to the elect who make it to the pearly gates and get to chat with John Lennon. But the best way you could attempt to attain any certitude of grace was to labor faithfully in your calling.
A "calling" was a new concept to Western Europe and wee baby colonial America. But a calling wasn't the magical kind we think of and associate with artists today. Rather, it's the idea that whatever job you're working at is divinely ordained, and for the best chance of heaven, you better work as hard as you can for as long as you can and provide as much value as possible for your employer. Weber repeatedly talks about various Protestant sects like the Calvinists and the Puritans taking the magic out of faith. Instead of the heavily mystic tradition of Catholicism, there was a very rationalistic and transactional view of religion and labor. Weber claims that over time this intense work ethic, originally associated with closeness to God in Christianity, was distilled out of religion and replaced our overall societal views of work and economics. Hence, modern capitalism. Work harder, profit more, reinvest, waste not.
Where do the arts fit into this lens? Weber, almost as a sidenote, marks off "cultural goods" as being "tolerable" only on the condition that one does not pay for them. Under this system of modern capitalism, any pleasure, "aesthetic or athletic," is worthless from an economic standpoint. Which brings us to the artists' conundrum today: why won't people pay for our work? Why do people feel entitled to consume the products of our labor at no cost? [There is a whole 'nother conversation to be had here about how this applies to the world of athletics and exploitation of athletes, particularly of Black and brown bodies and particularly in the U.S. Alas, that's for another day.]
Of course, there are exceptional people who value the arts and are willing to spend their disposable income on cultural goods. If you're someone who already tips at free shows and sends a PayPal gift during a livestream, you, for whatever reason, have cultivated a very different view of value than the average Western citizen, and on behalf of artists everywhere, thank you. But the vast majority of folks pass by the tip jar but still ask you to smile more, stream the song from Spotify but refuse to pay 99 cents to download and support the artist directly, and sometimes even send you out back by the porta-potties with a TV dinner. I would argue that this is a direct result of the Reformation and the system it ushered in, which inherently devalues cultural goods to a point of worthlessness and mere tolerable consumption.
With all that in mind, this week, may I suggest supporting an artist? Find someone whose music or acting or poetry or dancing brings joy into your day, and then ask yourself: what is this joy worth to me? Is it worth taking two minutes out of my day to find a way to support what they do?
Just because some of us came from Puritans doesn't mean we have to keep acting like them.
I have SO MANY MORE THOUGHTS on this but this is already a novella, so I will leave you be and go apply for a PhD program or something.
xoxo, Bri Murphy