Martin Simpson – The Banks of the Bann

Martin Simson - Leaves of Life

Martin Simson – Leaves of Life

Enough of Bamako, Lucky Thirteen takes us from the River Niger to The Banks of the Bann.

Today’s track, called The Banks of the Bann, is taken from Martin Simpson‘s 1989 CD Leaves of Life. In the sleeve notes, Martin tells us that “Leaves of Life is a collection of acoustic guitar pieces based on the melodies of traditional ballads and songs from England, Ireland, Scotland and Australia”. He says that all of the songs were learnt from singers and goes on to thank Dave Burland, Martin Carthy, Shirley Collins, Bobby Eaglesham, Dick Gaughan, Andy Irvine, Jessica Simpson, June Tabor and the Watersons “for their various inspirations”.

I’m not sure where Martin learnt this song, but it was certainly in the repertoire of Dick Gaughan so he may have been the inspiration. The album Leaves of Life is still readily available as a CD and also as an mp3 download. It is certainly recommended to all but especially to acoustic guitar fans. It is delightfully understated but, after only a couple of listens, the tunes get lodged in the mind. Earworms, quiet but compelling.

And for UK readers, Martin Simpson has a full schedule of concerts lined up for 2012, so drag yourselves away from the tv (you can always record the Transatlantic Sessions, The Only Way Is Essex etc.) and get out to see a gig.

Martin Simpson – The Banks of the Bann

Amadou & Mariam – Bali Maou

Various Artists – World 2000

Various Artists – World 2000

More from Mali this week.

I have it on very good authority (and from some less reliable sources) that the Festival sur le Niger was a blast. Our IS team enjoyed fantastic music and met lovely generous people, including their Malian hosts, a couple of mad Americans who had driven an ambulance from London to Bamako and … Salif Keita himself. But don’t take my word for it – read the blogs linked above.

Here in the less exotic English Midlands, we had to satisfy our curiosities and musical appetites by reading the article about Amadou and Mariam in today’s Observer and enjoying the photos taken on the trip to Bamako to interview them. Much is made in the article of the school for the blind in Bamako where Amadou and Mariam met and there are photos of the school today in the photo gallery. The current IS group are working at the school as part of their project and have a Just Giving site to accept donations to support their work there. If you would like to support the the Just Giving page is here.

Today’s track is Amadou and Mariam singing and playing Bali Maou – taken from Charlie Gillett’s compilation World 2000.

Amadou & Mariam – Bali Maou

Salif Keita – Wamba

Salif Keita - Soro

Salif Keita – Soro

Festival sur le Niger

Festival sur le Niger

Another interruption to the Lucky Thirteen series to mark the Festival sur le Niger which is being held this weekend.

Wouldn’t you just love to be lazing alongside the Niger river listening the musicians listed above? Wouldn’t you love to be able to watch & hear Salif Keita, Rokia Traoré and several bands / singers who you don’t know, will probably will never make it outside Mali, but are fantastic musicians? If you would, you will be jealous of Frances, Felicity, Jemma, Hibz, Rachel and the other IS volunteers who are chilling out in Segou this weekend.

To take the edge off your jealousy just a bit, I’ve the opening track of Salif Keita‘s breakthrough album Soro for you. While you listen to Salif’s magnificent vocals, trawl the Internet for trips to the festival at Segou and resolve to book for next year.

Salif Keita – Wamba

Root Doctors – Winin’ Boy Blues

Root Doctors - Dr Roots Gumbo Kings

Root Doctors – Dr Roots Gumbo Kings

Che coincidenza! – I’ve just watched Wales beat Scotland in the 6 Nations Rugby Tournament and Lucky Thirteen selects a CD from Wales for me to post from. Wales via New Orleans that is as today’s track is from Mike Harries Root Doctors.

Their website tells us that : “Mike has been making music in Cardiff since the late 1940’s for the most time in the New Orleans traditional style. He formed the ROOT DOCTORS in 1987, bringing together a group of both experienced and young musicians, proficient in a variety of musical styles. The ambition was to blend together a programme of jazz, blues, R’n’B, funk and all stations south, creating a fresh and exciting sound. There have been many personnel changes over the years, but the music is always eminently danceable and above all else FUN.”

I’m not sure how come I bought this CD or where or when. I don’t even put the CD on my player much but when a track from the CD comes up when I am “shuffling” the mp3s on my computer, my ears prick up and my toes start to tap. (This constitutes the very highest praise this ageing, non-dancer can give to a tune!)

I’m not sure if Winin’ Boy Blues is the best track on the CD – perhaps my vote would go to a live version of Don’t You Lie To Me – but I chose it because a typo on the sleeve notes calls the track Winnin’ Boy Blues and there were 15 Welsh Winnin’ boys on the pitch when the final whistle went in Cardiff this afternoon.

Root Doctors – Winin’ Boy Blues

Patrick Street – The Girls Along the Road

Patrick Street – All in Good Time

Patrick Street – All in Good Time

No post last week due to a weekend away at the capital of the Sussex Riviera – Bognor Regis.

And a short post this week – at the time of my life when I should be slowing down, I seem to be increasingly busy at home and at work. Still it could be worse, I could be out of work with nothing to get me out of bed of a morning at home.

So, enough cod philosophising, on with the music. This week we’ve got Patrick Street – The Girls Along the Road, from the album All In Good Time which has featured here before.

Patrick Street – The Girls Along the Road

Carlos Núñez – The Moonlight Piper

Carlos Núñez – Brotherhood of Stars

Back to Lucky Thirteen again after a couple of weeks dedicated to Mali. And we are back with our old friend Carlos Núñez, the Galician bagpiper. I’ve chosen to post The Moonlight Piper as, in my mind there is a small link to Frances’s trip to Mali. In the evening her group have taken to meeting at the apartment block where some of the volunteers are staying. There they cook a communal meal and then sit out on the apartment’s roof terrace and enjoy the (relative) cool of the evening. I don’t think they are serenaded by Galician pipers but you never know!

Carlos Núñez – The Moonlight Piper

Bajourou – Mansa

Bajourou - Big String Theory

Bajourou – Big String Theory

As usual I’m rushing to get this posted. I’ve been busy at work in the week and busy at home over the weekend. Mustn’t grumble though – that’s how I like it.

So, a very quick post – a second Malian track to send Frances and colleagues on their way in Mali. And the best way to fire up a quick post is to quote from the record label’s website:

“BAJOUROU (which means ‘big string’ or ‘big tune’) unites two of Mali’s prime guitar shapers – Bouba Sacko and Djelimadis Tounkara (now winner for Africa of BBC Radio 3’s Music of the World Awards) and singer Lafia Diabate in a superstar acoustic trio, recorded deep and direct in the Malian night.

During November of last year, intrepid GlobeStyle person Ben Mandelson and Lucy Duran journeyed to Bamako in Mali. There they recorded direct-to-DAT Bajourou, a superb trio of Malian acoustic stars. The band’s leader and electric guitarist Jalimadi Tounkara and singer Lafia Diabate were part of the legendary Super Rail Band (in fact, Lafia was the singer who replaced Mory Kante and Salif Keita when they left for solo careers). Rounding off the trio, Bouba Sacko is the most in-demand accompanist and arranger for all of the cantatrices or singing women of Mali. Big String Theory is a showcase for Bajourou (in Manding “Big String”), the Malian music of celebration and relaxation. The ambient recording captures a music of many subtle delights, framed against a natural acoustic background and the distant Malian night. The tour Mali Unplugged is a more acoustic showcase for music that has often become synonymous with the loud, electric performance. Mali Unplugged brings it all back home to the glorious acoustic roots of its traditions.”

The song I’ve chosen is Mansa “.. a beautiful song … on the theme of ‘life is short, make the best of it'”. Well, credit to all those going to Mali as part of the International Service scheme – they are making the most of their lives.

Bajourou – Mansa

Super Rail Band – Konowale

Super Rail Band - Super Rail Band

Super Rail Band – Super Rail Band

Another excursion away from “la diritta via” of Lucky Thirteen. This is to mark the start of my daughter’s three month stint of volunteering in Bamako, Mali. She is a Team Leader for International Service initially leading a group of young British volunteers living with disabilities who will be aiming to share experiences with their Malian counterparts and to contribute to the promotion of the rights of people living with disabilities in Mali. After that she will be working with another group of British volunteers carrying out research and development activities for the Malian organisation which is “hosting” the placement: FEMAPH (Malian Federation of Disabled People’s Associations).

So with Frances off to Bamako, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post a track from the Super Rail Band of Bamako, or the Super Rail Band Of The Buffet Hotel De La Gare De Bamako, Mali to give them their full name. The album is eponymously titled but don’t expect me to type all of that over again – or even copy and paste it!

From the Ace / Globestyle records website we learn that “Formed in July 1970, the Super Rail Band was the first major pop band to be sponsored by the Ministry of Information in its native Mali. The country’s severe shortages of musical instruments and the electricity to power them (often no more than 3 hours at best was available per day) meant that government sponsorship was essential. The band became synonymous with the regular venue they played – the capital city’s railway station hotel and refreshment room – thus acquiring the name the Super Rail Band of the Buffet Hotel De La Gare De Bamako, Mali.

In October 1982, when the recordings were made that appear here, Djelimadi Tounkara was the compositional and guitar driving force behind the Super Rail Band and the singers were Sekou Kane and Lafia Diabate. All of the Super Rail Band’s trademark style is fully in evidence (on this album) – the soaring, almost Arabic sound of the vocals, the cascading electric guitars (emulating both the traditional kora and ngoni instruments of the region), the tight horn riffs and loose backbeat of the drumming. The electric guitars owe a debt to the dominant soukous stylings of the period but they relocate the musical terrain to a whole different plane. A classic African music sound.”

I couldn’t put it better myself. Enjoy Konowale from the CD.

Super Rail Band – Konowale

Charles Mingus – Girl of my Dreams

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um

Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um

Happy New Year. Despite being on holiday for 10 days I seem to have no time to post to Furious Music. So, apologies for a late post and very short text.

Thirteen steps from Thomas Mapfumo is Charles Mingus. I only own the one Mingus CD – note to self, should buy more Mingus – and so Mingus Ah Um it is. And from the album we’ve Girl of my Dreams – dedicated to my wife and daughter, the Girls of my Dreams!

No more words; on with the music.

Charles Mingus – Girl of my Dreams

Thomas Mapfumo – Pachinyakare

Thomas Mapfumo - The Singles Collection 1977-1986

Thomas Mapfumo – The Singles Collection 1977-1986

After a diversion to celebrate the life of Cesaria Evora I’m back to my Lucky Thirteen series. (When I say my I mean, of course shamelessly stolen from Joe Boyd. And talking of Joe Boyd, is everyone else out there astonished by the fact that Joe Boyd has not been awarded a gong of any description for his services to British music? I know that he is an American but if George Bush and Ronald Reagan are worthy of an award

Enough lobbying, on to Thomas Mapfumo. As trailed last week, thirteen steps from my Machanic Manyeruke CD is Thomas Mapfumo – The Singles Collection 1977-1986. It is hard to find now but is still available online new and used.

The track I have chosen to post is Pachinyakare which is probably the best one to post on Christmas Eve as the news is filled with stories of bombs are being set off round the world killing hundreds of people and maiming many more. Pachinyakare is “A folk song that vividly describes life in the “golden years” of the past when people lived in peace, without numerous problems being encountered in today’s life like disease, shortage of food, pollution etc.”

Have a peaceful Christmas and lets all hope for golden years.

Thomas Mapfumo – Pachinyakare