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Archive for April, 2007

This coming weekend will have a lot going on between the Festival of Nations in St. Paul and the May Day Parade and celebration at Powederhorn Park. Due to my newness to the area, I’ll defer to N.S. Gill from About.com for a description of the event:

May Day is celebrated on May 6, 2007.

On May Day (actually, the first Sunday in May) from 1 p.m., Minneapolis celebrates May Day at Powderhorn Park. Starting with a colorful parade filled with living puppets from The Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater, the parade and parade watchers wend their way down Bloomington Avenue, in South Minneapolis, until they reach Powderhorn Park. The Heart of the Beast living-puppet cast then performs along the banks of Powderhorn Lake in front of crowds gathered on the hillsides. 

Two Jesters    May Day Parade   The Band

For a great explanation of the parade and the May Day festival at Powderhorn Park, go to the Heart of the Beast. This is one event I have been told by friends not to miss.

MayDay Poster

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Travel the World without a passport at the 2007 Festival of Nations held in St. Paul. Given that this is my first full year in the Twin Cities, it’s hard for me to offer up a qualified opinion, except that it looks awesome. At the 2007 Festival of Nations, 97 different ethnic groups from around the world will share their foods, crafts and traditions that form the mosaic of our American culture. According to the website, this is the 75th year for the Festival of Nations, which means they have definitely been doing something right.

Kontraband from Croatia

The Festival of Nations is being held at the St. Paul River Centre on 175 W. Kellogg Blvd. this coming Friday through Sunday (May 4, 5, and 6). Especially in this time of adversity, it’s important to celebrate and understand diversity. A comment I found on the Festival of Nations website from one of their 10,000 volunteers summed it up best:

 “One of the reasons why I participated at the beginning, and again this year, is that our ethnic group becomes one of the many. Nobody is better than the other. Everybody belongs.”

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There is a lot more to German music than just the jewels of David Hasselhof. Instead I would suggest the sounds of the German group Badesalz performing the Michael Jackson classic “Black or White.”

Badesalz (German for bath salts) is a famous comedy duo of Henni Nachtsheim und Gerd Knebel. From Frankfurt, they’re well known for their sketches using thick hessisch (hessen) accents.

Badesalz Links (auf Deutsch)

Sicherheitskraft

Badesalz Fanspage

Wo ist die Kugel?

David Hasselhoff Fan Page (Check out the multimedia files)

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The Thrill of Frigg

Four concerts in five days and I’m feeling pretty good. I’ll delve more into the Congolese and Malian music in the coming days.

Frigg, a Finnish-Norwegian fiddle band, played Thursday at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. The opening act the Orange Mighty Trio was the perfect complement to Frigg…they were all over the place musically and I think TC Cheap Concerts captured it perfectly in describing OMT’s violinist, Zach Kline’s playing style as:

“…he showed a sure and steady hand while bowing slow, empathic pieces across your heart, but it was the lightning-fast, dragonfly-nimble notes that buzzed and crackled past your ears that really caught my attention and made Kline stand out in my memory from all the other violinists I’ve seen perform.”

Orange Mighty Trio

OMT was not what I expected…a great surprise that I hope to see again. I highly recommend checking out their MySpace site and listening to their songs. I really liked their performance of Millenium.

After the intermission, Frigg came on and played more of a Finnish-folksy, blue grass set. I did like the fact that they would introduce each song, and played a lot of different Finnish polskas, which sounded very different than the polkas, I keenly recalled being played at my grandparents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary many moons ago.

The chemistry of the band was great through out the entire set. The band was extremely warm in both playing and speaking with the audience. Antti Järvelä, who played double-bass and fiddle, was especially great in feeling out the audience and explaining the meaning of the various polskas written by the group – one inspired by what they called the European version of Nascar called touring car racing and another that was dedicated to some infamous Finnish cross-country skiers accused of doping. The songs were good, I wish they could have played a little longer…but they were fun to watch and a good way to end a week of great concert going.

Additional Links

Zack Kline – OMT Violinist’s Website

Finnish Fiddler Music – From Virtual Finland

The Nation of Singers – Explains the musicality of the Finnish culture and language

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While attending the Vieux Farka Toure concert at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis, the MC mentioned that Tinariwen will be playing in concert in November. The group is amazing and has a lot of material on the web. This is definitely one not to miss.

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Sometimes words fail to describe a band or concert experience that was so foreign to my ears. Konono #1 was that type of experience. Sweat-covered, I wasn’t sure what I had experienced, other than I really liked it.

The music had constant meringue-techno trance beat which kept most people in the joint moving, and others standing still trying to figure out what was happening.

Vincent Kenis, the band’s producer, in an interview with the Guardian described the music best as,

“what sounded like an electronic version of the traditional trance music of the Congo’s Bazombi tribe, laced with feedback and distorted almost beyond recognition. “To me it was a kind of African punk music,” he says.”

Another person who attended the concert yesterday described it as extreme trance.

For me it was a hypnotic experience, the brash style was hard for me to initially wrap my ears around, but the constant beat and watching the band play brought me in. It was a great show to watch.  To describe the sight, I turn to Wikipedia

They combine three electric likembé (a traditional instrument similar to the mbira) with voices, dancers, and percussion instruments that are made out of items salvaged from a junkyard. The group’s amplification equipment is equally rudimentary, including a microphone carved out of wood fitted with a magnet from an automobile alternator and a gigantic horn-shaped amplifier. 

Electrified Likembe

The band has a fascinating history and the fact that they are together after all of the strife and civil unrest taking place in the Congo is nothing short of amazing.  I’ll go in to that later posting.

The bands’ website offers even more images.

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With the music from yesterday’s concert at First Avenue still in my head, I searched online and found several free Antibalas MP3s and streaming sites.

SXSW Performance – Minnesota Public Radio
Contains around 30 minutes of performance from this year’s SXSW Festival in Austin.

Beaten Metal (Read Free MP3)
The first track from their latest album, Security, along with a review.

Antibalas Security Album Cover

Live performances from Antibalas and other Afrobeat bands from SoundRoots including Antibalas’ performance at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2003. There are a few broken links on the posting.

CNET’s Music Download Site offers free two songs for download – I.C.E. and Obanla’e.

During the concert, Antibalas gave everyone a chance to relax and be amazed with the song I.C.E. from the Security album. After the great chaos and energy displayed during their earlier numbers, the tightness and control on this song was great to see live.

Finally, Ropeadope has a great page detailing Antibalas’ history.

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