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Current Projects

Alejandra Ribera, La boca (Pheremone Recordings), Alejandra Ribera has a small tattoo inside each wrist. On the right, in Spanish, is the word ‘Listen’: on the left, ‘Remember.’ They’re not for display, but reminders to herself, watchwords for living and art. And she does both without compromise. 04/03/14 >> go there
Arabesque, 2014 Center Stage Tours, There is one independent contemporary dance company in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon): Arabesque. Under the Artistic Direction of Nguyên Tán Lôc, an alumnus of Tokyo’s Fujisato Ballet Company, and the guidance of Kiev-trained ballerina (Ngô Thuy Tô Nhu), this striking Vietnamese company has worked hard to find a new vocabulary of movement in a country where contemporary dance is rarely taught or presented. 12/10/13 >> go there
Benyoro, Self-titled, Benyoro: the band is, quite literally, a meeting place. Its name, taken from Mali’s Bamana language, means precisely that. That the six-piece group would come together in NYC seems almost inevitable. The city is the polyglot home to a thousand different languages and dialects, where African music devotees can find their kindred spirits in recent émigrés from the continent. Where South African jit can nuzzle up next to merengue and the blues can sit next to Kenyan benga. 05/01/14 >> go there
Brushy One-String, Chicken in the Corn Remix, When filmmaker Luciano Blotta walked out of a rural Jamaican recording studio, way off the beaten path of tourists and music hounds, he saw something wildly unusual: a man with an instrument. Even more surprising, the instrument in question—a battered but resonant acoustic guitar—had only one string. 03/13/13 >> go there
Cascada de Flores, Radio Flor (Ita Music), It’s the sound and feel of XEW, a powerful station out of Mexico that broadcast far beyond Mexico’s borders. It broke down national boundaries, and for many listeners in the early-20th century, the voices of XEW became members of the family, the music the soundtrack to daily life. It’s a warm summer evening. The windows are open, and the radio is on. As the family gathers and chats, the radio orchestra fills the living room with psaltery and violins. Piano and poetry segues into jingles and wildly romantic boleros. Finally, the deep booming voice announcing “Chucho el Roto” drifts in from the receiver. The family huddles around the radio to catch every moment of the eagerly anticipated radio drama. 05/12/14 >> go there
CD Baby, Strange things are happening to earn independent musicians more money thanks to the explosion of online video. The band The Covering started seeing a spike in digital sales of an old song thanks to an impromptu “how to” powerwashing video. Rock and dubstep band Family Force Five got an extra 1.7 million views thanks to a basketball trick shots video, including 1000-foot shots to basketball hoops raised with helium balloons. While YouTube was once seen as a potential promotional outlet, this is the year it became a legitimate income stream of musicians at all levels. 07/26/13 >> go there
CD Baby, The Iceberg Tip Sheets, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Macklemore both had their start on CD Baby and their catalog titles are still offered. Other artists, like Ingrid Michaelson and Gregory Alan Isakov have maintained independent and highly successful careers even as they’ve continued their partnerships with CD Baby. Greg Brown and Grant Lee Phillips are among musicianswho’ve dropped the old label system and run their own indie careers with the help of CD Baby. But which CD Baby artists will be the next to reach household name status? The Iceberg Tip Sheet offers a quick round up of recent and upcoming releases distributed by CD Baby, showcasing breakthrough artists, as well as cult stars and up-and-comers. 05/06/14 >> go there
Center Stage 2014 Tours, Now in its second season, the program will bring seven acclaimed contemporary dance and music ensembles from Morocco, Pakistan, and Vietnam to the U.S. to perform, interact, and begin meaningful dialogues with Americans during independent month-long tours scheduled nation-wide from June through November 2014. 10/18/11 >> go there
DakhaBrakha, 2014 Tour, They craft stunning new sonic worlds for traditional songs, reinventing their heritage with a keen ear for contemporary resonances. With one foot in the urban avant-garde theater scene and one foot in the village life that nurtured and protected Ukraine’s cultural wealth, DakhaBrakha show the full fury and sensuality of some of Eastern Europe’s most breathtaking folklore. 02/20/14 >> go there
Fleur d' Orange, 2014 Center Stage Tours, “I made a decision,” states choreographer and dancer Hind Benali, founder of Fleur d’Orange, a contemporary dance company in Casablanca. “I had to dance and that meant I had to fight.” 12/10/13 >> go there
globalFEST @ Lincoln Center Out of Doors 2014, globalFEST, one of the most catalytic world music events in North America, goes on the road, taking over multiple locations at Lincoln Center with a globe and genre-spanning line-up in a day-long celebration. 05/07/14 >> go there
Hoba Hoba Spirit, 2014 Center Stage Tours, They’ve played Roskilde. They’ve recorded at Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studio. But this isn’t your typical stadium-packing rock band. This is clever, catchy Morocc’n Roll. Casablanca’s unfettered and irreverent Hoba Hoba Spirit finds the rock drive within the bold clack of qarqaba (double castanets) and rhythmic swagger of North Africa. 12/10/13 >> go there
Joe Purdy, Eagle Rock Fire (Mudtown Crier Records), When Arkansas songwriter Joe Purdy was told to evacuate his California home because of nearby forest fires, he didn’t pack up his dog Smalls and a couple favorite guitars. Instead he sat down and started writing a song: “Warn all the horses, warn all the riders, that the fire is coming down.” He finished the song and the evacuation warning passed. 05/28/14 >> go there
Khumariyaan, 2014 Center Stage Tours, It all started with a smashed lute. A friend of the Peshawar-based ensemble Khumariyaan’s founder Farhan Bogra had brought the rubab, a traditional Pushtoon (Pashto) instrument, home, only to meet with serious paternal disapproval. The instrument was soon in pieces, to be replaced by a more respectable guitar. That got Bogra thinking: If the instrument sparked such potent passion, what might the plucky long-bodied lute be able to say? 12/10/13 >> go there
Kuenta i Tambú, Tambutronic (Jiga Musica), Tradition is a tricky beast. There are those who would leave it as a dusty, living museum exhibit. Then there are others who see further, into the possibility of tradition, a line that runs through history all the way to the present. They’re the ones who respect the past but aren’t going to be hidebound by it, who make it a very vital part of now. People like KiT. 11/18/13 >> go there
Lost Origins Sound Series (Lost Origin Productions/Electric Cowbell), It all began with a bad cell phone connection. Musician and all-around creative instigator Jason Hamacher was about to drive into a tunnel near the DC zoo, when a friend and fellow musician called and said he had to check out “Serbian chant” for a new project the two were involved with. 04/09/14 >> go there
Mónica Giraldo, Que venga la vida (Polen Records), Mónica Giraldo is a woman walking two paths. The first is taking her deeper and deeper into the heart of Colombian music, surrounded by the power of her native land’s traditional rhythms. The other leads her out and away, following melodies and harmonies from overseas. 06/03/14 >> go there
Poor Rich Boy, 2014 Center Stage Tours, “It’s the truth of the matter: We are poor rich boys. We are okay, well off, and are still sad,” explains Shehzad Noor Butt of Lahore, Pakistan’s experimental rock band Poor Rich Boy. 12/10/13 >> go there
Rebel Tumbao, self-titled (Sacred Rhythm Music), “This is a movement,” says band co-founder and percussionist José Claussell. “That is even more important than the music. It's about the message, and we're passionate about getting it out into the world.” 01/29/14 >> go there
Ribab Fusion, 2014 Center Stage Tours, To really make a monochord like the Amazigh (Berber) ribab sing, you have to have the chops of Jimi Hendrix. Or so insists Foulane Bouhssine of Ribab Fusion, who’s on a mission to turn the bowed, one-string fiddle into a furiously funky sign of a new era. 12/10/13 >> go there
Rumblefish, Musicians and labels are getting paid for well over one billion monthly YouTube views because of one company. While YouTube monetization is on the tips of tongues across the music industry, innovator Rumblefish—started by a professional musician and film composer—is in the unique position of having the most cleared copyrights (5 million) in the world and the largest number of micro-licensing partners, apps, and marketplaces of anyone in the online music space. Their multi-year head start makes them attractive to large digital distributors, deep label catalogs, and independent songwriters alike. 05/01/14 >> go there
Song of the Bird King, 2014 Summer Projects, Code: It’s a language of secrets, a precise pattern of presence and absence, sound and silence. It’s the hidden foundation of technology, covertly connecting scattered bits and bytes. Composers/percussionists Susie Ibarra and Roberto Rodriguez crack and play with code, uniting diverse but entwined projects in their new digital music initiative, Song of the Bird King. 06/09/14 >> go there
The Bad Things, After the Inferno (Silent City Records), Seattle. The whole world knows the bands that word conjures. But they only tell one small fragment of the city’s musical story. Hidden by the noise of electric guitars and the sweet scents of gentrification, a strong, vital underground scene still flourishes. A junkyard cabaret inhabited by the underdogs and freaks, caught in the sudden glare of burlesques and little jewel box clubs. A place filled with the joyous outcasts, of celebration and commiseration. 06/18/14 >> go there
The Polish Ambassador, Push Through the Pavement (Jumpsuit Records), “Every night, before we go on stage, we look each other in the eye and say let’s get loose; let’s spread the love,” smiles producer and madcap musical activist David Sugalski a.k.a. The Polish Ambassador. “We dance like crazy when we perform and that’s permission for the crowd to do the same. We encourage everyone to drop the facade of coolness and celebrate their existence, no matter where they are coming from.” 05/01/14 >> go there
Tri Minh's Quartet, 2014 Center Stage Tours, The twang of the zither against the overtone-laden bamboo mouth harp, hinting at tradition one moment, and the analog experiments of midcentury electronic music the next. Sweet jazz piano and hand drums, juxtaposing electronic and organic. These are the sounds of Hanoi, where open-ended experimentation is coming into its own in Vietnam’s capital city. 12/10/13 >> go there
Zebrina, Hamidbar Medaber (Tzadik), Canadian jazz pianist Jonathan Feldman had an epiphany. Raised on a steady diet of Miles Davis and his former bandmates’ records like Chick Corea’s “Light as a Feather”, Feldman hadn’t really explored the music of his family’s Jewish faith. Growing up Jewish in Hamilton, ON and attending a Jewish elementary school and summer camp exposed him to some Israeli folk music and the liturgical music of the synagogue, but aside from the avant-garde offerings of clarinetist Ben Goldberg, he never checked out much klezmer music, sometimes called “Jewish Jazz”. 06/16/14 >> go there
Zongo Junction, No Discount (Electric Cowbell Records), Every journey, they say, begins with a single step. For Zongo Junction, that first footfall came in the Bay Area, when drummer and West African music explorer Charles Ferguson was young. His drum teacher began to show him the wide world of music that was waiting out there. 06/16/14 >> go there