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Here you’ll find all kinds of suggestions as to how you can access great world music entertainment in Boston and the surrounding area. Just read my “About” page for further details. Even if you are not from Boston, this information can be very useful in a more general way. Aside from the specifics, you will get an idea of all the different types of settings in which you can enjoy world music. Then look for similar events and entertainment venues in your local area.
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Join in the Summertime Fun Reggae Style as Hot Like Fire Lights Up Boston’s Infamous Downtown Crossing: August 28th, Tuesday & August 30th and September 6th, Thursday (5:30 – 7:30 p.m.)
Yes indeed!It’s a block party and you’re invited for free. That’s right, no cover charge for one of Boston’s top Caribbean party bands. Widely considered to be the no. 1 dance band on the East coast that performs reggae in true authentic style, Hot Like Fire has been nominated three times for the Boston Music Awards and is the 2011 winner of the New England Urban Music Award for Best Caribbean Band. Dance, dance, dance up a storm in front of Downtown Crossing’s Macys , to the reggae beats of the bands originally composed tunes, Bob Marley oldies and other well-seasoned crowd favorites, as well as special arrangements of top hits from other popular genres. You can even expect some soca, ska, and calypso style sounds thrown in for a little extra variety. Hot Like Fire always gets and keeps the crowd going while they demand encore after encore performance.
SurfSide5 Beach Bar & Grill (Beach Party)
Can’t make the block party? Then just come to the beach party at the SurfSide5 in Salisbury, MA. Every Sunday during the summer season and on into the fall, Hot Like Fire attracts approximately 600 fans to this seaside eatery’s 8,ooo square foot outdoor dance floor. In addition to the music, you can enjoy their picnic style fare of fresh Maine lobster, New England clam chowder, a variety of salads, sandwiches, paninis, wraps, and hot dogs too. Come to either of these two events and I guarantee you that you will be movin’ and groovin’ to some of the very best reggae around anywhere!
About the Band
Kelly B., the band’s leader and composer, founded the group in 1998 while a student at the Berklee School of Music. After a trip to Barbados, she was inspired to start-up her own reggae band. Hot Like Fire’s current membership includes: Kelly B. on lead and back-up vocals, trumpet, and percussion, John “Redd” Lima on back-up vocals and keyboards, M’ Talewa Thomas on bass, Glen “De General” Grant on drums, Charleston Sarjeant on keyboards and steel pan, and dj Flex Murder on vocals.
When: August 28th, Tuesday and August 30th and September 6th, Thursday (5:30 – 7:30 p.m.)
Where: Downtown Crossing (In front of Macys)
When: Sundays (Summer season – Columbus Day) – Starting at 4:00 p.m. and continuing until anywhere between 8:00 and 10:00 p.m.
Where: SurfSide5 Bar & Grill (Salisbury, MA)
Admission: No cover charge listed
More Info: 978-463=9222
Join Malagasy-American Singer Razia Said and Madagascar’s Biggest and Brightest Stars in a Musical Effort to Save the African Rainforest: July 19th, Thursday @ 8:00 p.m.
How can you manage to contribute to an all-important global effort to save the rainforests of the world and enjoy fabulous world music and dance at the same time? By partaking of Razia Said‘sWake Up Madagascar Tour of course! Now a US citizen, although originally from Madagascar herself, Said has long been concerned over the damage done to the rainforests of her native homeland by the illegal deforestation activities of the logging industry. Proceeds from her upcoming concert will go towards local and global efforts to end this senseless destruction of one of our planets most precious natural resources.
Coming off the heels of a highly successful similar event of last year, this year’s tour features the same star-studded line up of musicians and dancers, including in addition to Said, Madagascar natives Jaojoby, Charles Kely, and the Saramba. The music genre of the evening will be salegy, a native form of pop considered to be most representative of Malagasy culture. And, as it just so happens, none other than Jaojoby, himself, is one of the forefathers of the style. Based on African folk genres of the sub Sahara, it gradually piqued the interest of the general population of Madagascar, most notably through a heavy incorporation of electric guitar beginning in the 1950s which gave it a distinct funk-like character. Salegy is uplifting in mood, vibrant in character, and teeming with energy. Both poly rhythmic and poly harmonic in over-all structure, it is most often performed in the key of A minor, and features, in addition to electric guitar and bass, accordion, and a percussion section typically comprised of drum set, djembe, and shakers.
This is definitely party music folks! So, if you’re in the audience, expect to be called on upon to participate. Salegy features periodic episodes of call and response interchanges between the members of the band and the audience in the form of repeated vocal phrases and hand clapping patterns. The dance that traditionally accompanies this genre emphasizes hip movements and will be amply demonstrated by dancers on stage the night of the concert. So get ready to sing out loud, clap those hands and swing those hips at the Wake Up Madagascar Afropop concert gone dance party. Sounds like a great time for a great cause to me.
Singer/composer Razia Said has most definitely joined the ranks as one of America’s rising world music stars. National Geographic predicted that her recording “Zebu Nation” (2010) would rank among the year’s top 12 in the world music category even before it actually came out. Read more about her accomplishments as well as those of other members of her amazing tour at these links: Razia Said / Jaojoby / Charles Kely / Saramba.
When: Thursday, July 19th @ 8:00 p.m.
Where: Johnny D’s Uptown (Somerville)
More Info: 617-776-2004 OR 617-800-9720
Relive Afro-Pop’s Golden Age of the 70’s with the Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Contonou: Also appearing, African Hip Hop Sensations SMOD: July 20th, Friday @ 9:00 p.m.
Afrobeat funk was all the rage throughout the continent during the era of the 70s. This highly energized form of dance music soon made its way overseas, receiving a warm reception in Europe and beyond. Well, now this once highly popular genre of world music is making a huge comeback across the globe and what better way to experience it other than at the hands of Benin’s Orchestre Poly-Rythmo Contonou. Not only are they considered to be their homeland’s top music ensemble of all time, but major critics, such as the New York Times, have dubbed them one of the world’s premier funk bands. Although heavily influenced by the late great James Brown, the band has developed a version of Afro funk that is distinctly all their own, infusing it with elements of psychedelic rock, native folk rhythms, Latin genres such as the Brazilian samba, jazz, soul, and voodoo music. The voodoo music makes its mystical presence known in the form of ritualistic chants and rhythm patterns pounded out on a large drum. And don’t let the band member’s age fool you for one minute! They are filled with just as much vibrant energy as ever. To them, African music’s era of the 70s is only just yesterday.
Appearing with OPC, will be SMOD, a popular Malian hip hop band. “African” hip hop that is. Determined to do much more than just copy the original American form of the genre, the group has brought traditional African vocals and rhythmic motifs as well as tons of renewed energy to the mix. They see their version of hip hop as a vehicle through which they can effectively express their views on the impoverished state of their native continent and the governments’ refusal to ease the hardship of their citizens. The group’s leader, DJ Sam, just happens to be the son of none other than the legendary Amadou and Miriam of current international fame. Faithfully honing their craft in practice sessions located on the rooftop of this famous duo’s home, this vocal trio has been rising steadily in popularity, serving as the opening band for such well-known world music names as Salif Keita, Manu Chao, and of course Amadou and Miriam as well as a number of other stars. In fact, none other than super star Manu Chao himself is the producer of SMOD’s latest cd release.
So, come on out to the Brighton Music Hall and catch some of African music’s top acts. How can you possibly go wrong with a ticket that brings you two world renown bands for the price of one?
When: July 20th, Friday @ 9:00 p.m.
Where: Brighton Music Hall (Allston)
More Info: 617-876-4225
Feast on Five Dollar Tapas Platters and Live World Music @ Masa in Boston’s South End: Thursday Evenings (9:30 p.m. ‘Til Close)
Each and every Thursday night, now you can enjoy the fine world music offerings of Los Three to the additional tune of scrumptious sampler platters of tapas. Come on out to Boston’s South End and let the folks at Masa, winners of Food and Wine Magazine’s “Best New Restaurant” award, treat you to an evening of their fine Southwestern cuisine enlivened with New England-style culinary touches. All the while you’ll be movin’ and groovin’ to Los Three’s high-spirited arrangements of Latin, reggae, funk, and oldies but goodies tunes. Such a combo of great music and tasty cuisine is sure to please.
Matt Jenson, on keyboards and vocals, is a member of the faculty at the Berklee College of Music and a tried and true Bob Marley aficionado. So much so in fact, that he actually teaches a course entitled The Music and Life of Bob Marley which always attracts large numbers of eager students. In addition, he also has a reggae jazz cd to his credit and two of his own bands, Acid Reggae Xperience and Rebel Tumbao. Over the course of his career he has performed with such renown artists as Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, Johnny Adams, Mighty Sam McClain, Cyril Lance, and Johnny Neel. He currently performs on a rotating basis with a number of Boston area Latin bands.
Alex Alvear, on bass and vocals, leads one of Boston’s most renown Latin ensembles, Mango Blue, which features his own original and arranged Afro-Latin compositions. Before traveling to the US, he made a huge impact on the national music scene in his native Ecuador. Since his arrival in America over 20 years ago, he has continued to rise in popularity, appearing frequently around New England, in NYC, across the nation, and overseas as well. He has performed with such world music stars as Celia Cruz, Orlando “Puntilla” Rios, Israel “Cachao” Lopez, Francisco Aguabella, Paquito D’Rivera and others. He also holds the honor of being involved in the making of two Grammy-nominated cds.
Pablo Bencid, on percussion and vocals, was awarded a scholarship from the Berklee College of Music where he trained for a successful international career, performing frequently in the Americas, Europe, Australia, and the Virgin Islands. In his travels he has appeared at a number of the world’s most prestigious events and venues including the Istanbul Music Festival, Bolivar Hall (London), The Sodra Teatern (Stockholm) and many others. In addition to his performances with the well-known local band Either/Orchestra, he has also appeared with the Labeque Sisters of international fame, the JCA Orchestra, Zalo Grau & La Clave Secreta, the Aquiles Baez Quartet, David Holmes and Nu Quartet, and other notable names.
When: Thursdays (9:30 p.m. ’til Closing)
Where: Masa (South End)
Admission: No cover charge listed
More Info: 617-338-8884
Join in the Celebration of Bulgaria’s Special Day with Fabulous Folk Song and Dance: May 13th, Sunday @ 5:00 p.m.
Participate with Boston’s Bulgarian-American community as they celebrate the 8th Bulgarian Cultural Festival in New England in recognition of their native homeland’s independence as well as the establishment of the Slavic alphabet. Presented by the Bulgarian-American Center (MADARA), this well-established popular event promises attendees an evening of colorful folk music and dance originating from a wide variety of local regions throughout Bulgaria. Featured performers will include the folk dancers of Ensemble “HORO” from Chicago, women’s chorus Divi Zheni, and men’s chorus Zornitsa. I know that I have posted about this event before, however, this year activities appear to have been expanded a bit to include native food and games, making it a more family friendly event. So, why not bring the kids along too! This long-running ethnically inspired event is sure to please crowd members of all ages.
About the Performers
Ensemble “HORO” (The Ensemble for Bulgarian Folk Dances) is comprised of 40 or so very passionate adults and teens dedicated to the promotion of their native culture’s performing arts here in the United States and beyond. Artistic directors Irena Gotcheva and Todor Gotchev, both formerly of the highly esteemed Bulgarian troupe Ensemble “Silven”, established this Chicago-based troupe in 2003, assuring that their repertoire would represent all of Bulgaria’s main cultural sects in authentic folk music and dance including, Severniashka, Trakiiska, Shopska, Dobrudjanska, Pirinska and Rodopska. In addition to frequent local appearances throughout the Chicago area, the ensemble has also performed in St. Louis, Toronto, and Montreal.
Divi Zheni (Wild Women) is an all-female chorus which performs a most authentic repertoire of Bulgarian folk songs either a capella or accompanied by ethnic instruments such as the tambura, dumbek, and tupan. Members of this group come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and range in age from young to old. Their repertoire includes both village and more popular dance songs which they perform at concerts, festivals and dance events. Founded in 2000, they not only appear locally, but nationally and overseas in Bulgaria as well.
Zornitsa, the male counterpart to Divi Zheni, was the first group of its kind to perform Bulgarian folk and popular songs. In addition to appearances at folk music events around the New England area, they have also performed in Bulgaria where they were aired on Bulgarian National television.
Tatiana Sarbinska, internationally renowned Bulgarian folk artist, is the artistic director of both Divi Zheni and Zornitsa. As a recipient of the prestigious honor of National Treasure status, compliments of the Bulgarian government, she is recognized as instrumental in the preservation of her country’s native music culture. Thus, it is under her tutelage that Divi Zheni and Zornitsa are able to perform so successfully in the true Bulgarian folk style. She has had and still enjoys an illustrious career as a vocalist and has recorded her own cds, Makedonsko Devojche and Katerino Mome. Since 1991, she has shared her numerous artistic talents in the United States through the direction of various ensembles, music events, and workshops.
When: May 13th, Sunday @ 5:00 p.m.
Doors open at 4:30
Where: ACAS Center (Woburn)
Tickets: $20.00 (Advanced purchase) / $25.00 (At the door) / $5.00 discount for students and seniors / Kids under 12 are free
Round Out Your Week with a Little World Fusion: See What Transpires When Japanese Folk Music Meets Jazz with the Tomoko Omura Quartet: April 26th, Thursday @ 8:30 p.m.
Jazz violinist Tomoko Omura is an artist with a mission. “I want to push the barriers of jazz violin” she urges, recognizing a pronounced absence of string players when it comes to the achievement of true stardom in the world of jazz. Still a young developing artist in the early stages of her career, already she has been haled by the likes of “The Strad” magazine as a creative genius, moving beyond the stylistic advancements made by even the great Stepahnie Grapelli himself. Her latest artistic venture, entitled Roots, involves the fusion of Japanese traditional music and jazz, the music from which will be featured at her Thursday night performance at Ryles with the Tomoko Omura Quartet. As with her earlier project, the “Visions” cd (2008), Omura shares her own highly innovative, leading-edge original works or arrangements, showcasing her ulta-modern interpretative skills and compositional techniques. However, even though she is truly an experimental jazz artist in her own right, one can still notice the influences of her earlier classical music training which remain ever-present throughout all of her compositions, as cleverly constructed improvisations are well balanced against solidly structured harmonies. With respect to Omura’s playing style, she is one of a tiniest minority of violinists attempting to solidly establish the presence of standard jazz idioms within her performances not normally associated with a string instrument. So, why not come and see what this exciting young jazz musician and her quartet have to bring to the genre, this Thursday night at Ryles.
Tomoko Omura developed an affinity for jazz early on during her training as a classical violinist. As a young music student attending Yokohama National University, she was one of a very few studying the instrument to take a serious interest in this particular genre. Eager to develop a career in jazz, she came to the United States to study at the Berklee College of Music where she graduated sums cum laude. During her tenure there, she became the very first string major ever to receive the coveted Roy Hanes award for jazz performance. Currently, she is enjoying a well accomplished professional career as a jazz composer and performer, having been featured in both The Strad and Strings magazines. In addition to her numerous recording credits, she is in constant demand as a stage performer, either as a soloist, leading her own small ensembles or as part of various other jazz groups, appearing regularly at top clubs and other major venues and events around New England and in New York City, as well. She also continues to perform in her native Japan where she was a part of J-Pop superstar, Mai Kuraki’s hit song entitled “Be With U”.
When: April 26th, Thursday @ 8:30 p.m.
Where: Ryles Jazz Club (Mainstage)
Admission: $10.00 (Purchase Online)
More Info: 617-876-9330
Experience the Vision of Beauty and Drama that is Classical Indian Dance at Its Very Best with Priyadarshini Govind: April 22nd, Sunday (4:00 – 6:00 p.m.)
Priyadarshini Govind (video)
Priyadarshini Govind is considered to be among the best if not the best in the world at her craft. Performing since the age of 16, she has pushed the art form of Bharatnatyam, one of the oldest styles of classical Indian dance, forward with her progressive approach to both technique and expression. The genre began as a part of the religious rites performed for deities worshiped in Hindu temples over 2000 years ago. Built around an artistic vision of seemless unity between dance movements, often precisely rhythmic in character, and highly expressive drama, this particular style of movement presents itself as a true challenge to even the most accomplished dancer. It is the their job to achieve an exact balance between whats refered to as the “nritta” or manner of movement that emphasizes purely technique and the “nrithya” which is focused upon the dramatic aspects of dancing. The latter is achieved through employment of a specified series of techniques associated with abhinaya, an Indian form of artistic expression. These include mudras (sacred gestures), mime, facial expressions, and body movements.
As a true master of Bharatnatyam, Govind sums up her artistic role thusly, “Dance is such a complete line with visuals, poetry, drama, music … You use your whole body to communicate all of this”. She considers her connection with the audience of utmost importance, aiming to virtually transport them into her world with her as she performs, wherever she happens to be artistically at any given moment. Although Govind considers the dramatic aspects of her dancing as more personally fulfilling, her technique is most impressive nonetheless. One can truly appreciate her sharpness of body line, intriguing footwork sequences, and overall flexibility, physical extension, and control. Her sense of expression is very precise, intense, and down to earth. No phoniness here. She can change character seamlessly at the drop of a hat and no emotion, idea, or concept seems too abstract for her to handle, dramatically speaking. In keeping with her artistically progressive outlook, she often chooses to portray modern up-to-date concepts, which are unique to her own personal dance repertoire. Govind manages to effectively communicate a vast array of varying emotions within in a variety of differing dramatic scenarios, all during a single performance, literally mesmerizing audiences with her theatrical skill in the process. Her visit to Boston presents a rare opportunity indeed for all of us in the area to experience the ultimate in classical Indian dance.
Priyadarshini Govind began dancing in the Bharatnatyam style as a young child. In fact by the age of nine she had begun training with the great masters of her native India. Exceptionally talented, she continues to enjoy an international career of the highest order earning herself the most coveted title of “Kalaimamani” in honor of her artistic achievements. You can read more about her many accomplishments here.
When: April 29th, Sunday (4:00 – 6:00 p.m.)
Where: MIT (Kresge Auditorium)
Tickets: $30.00 (General Admission) / $15.00 (MITHAS Members) / Free (MIT Students)
More Info: firstname.lastname@example.org / 617-258-7971