Archive for the ‘podcast’ Category

4 Generations of Congo Music

April 19, 2015


from and

Click on the link below to listen.

Afropop Worldwide produced a nice podcast that takes us on a historic trip through four generation of music from the Democratic Republic of Congo. No other country’s music on the African country spread so much like the Rumba or Soukouss which was engineered in Kinshasa and fascinated millions on the continent.

Congo has always played an oversize role in entertaining dance lovers on the continent and beyond–Franco, Tabu Ley, Doctor Nico, Zaiko Langa Langa, Papa Wemba, Pepe Kalle, and others.

We start in pre-independence Congo with the beloved “Papa” Wendo Kolossoy (RIP), the grandfather of rumba, as he talks with us at his home in Kinshasa. We talk to the man and listen in on a recording session. After sitting out most of the 3-decade Mobutu era, Wendo put together a band of veterans with stories to tell, and sweet melodies and rhythms to share.

We also talk with the legendary singer and composer Simaro Lutumba who sat at the right hand of Franco. We catch Simaro rehearsing his band, Bana OK. We also check in with dueling superstars Werrason and JB Mpiana.

There are two countries called Congo—The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Republic of the Congo. While both capital cities have been involved in the musical developments, it is the capital of the DRC, Kinshasa, that has provided most of the Congolese superstars. Kinshasa was Africa’s undisputed musical heart, pumping out and endless flow of dance music and great bands. Each generation brought its own style, but all played music known in the West as rumba or soukous.

Afro-Cuban rumba stormed West and Central African before and after World War II. It was quickly reappropriated by the Congolese who adapted the piano part for the guitar. Unlike Ghanaian highlife, Congolese music was less influenced by European taste and in many ways more African.

The forefathers of Congolese music include Feruzi, often credited with popularizing the rumba in the 1930s. The cross-border popularity of Congolese music was boosted by a number of practical factors. It was ‘non-tribal’, using the interethnic trading language, Lingala. The guitar style was an amalgam of influences from Central and West Africa.

Finally, postwar Belgian Congo was booming and traders were taking advantage of the commercial potential including the sale of records. Early Congolese labels released a deluge of 78rpm recordings and in the early 1940s Radio Congo Belge started African music broadcasts.



Remembering Hugh Tracey

April 7, 2015



In this podcast, Afropop producer Wills Glasspeigel heads to South Africa to reveal the story of the inimitable Hugh Tracey, a field recordist born at the turn of the 20th century in England. A wayward youth, Tracey found himself in Africa in the 1920s where he became fascinated with music from Zimbabwe.

Tracey became a pioneer field recordist, making over 250 LPs of traditional African music for the Gallo label in South Africa. Like John and Alan Lomax in the US, Tracey was instrumental in preserving hundreds of songs that have since gone extinct. Glasspiegel speaks with Dianne Thram, director of Tracey library in Grahamstown, South Africa; Tracey’s son Andrew, a musician and field recordist in his own right; Michael Baird, an expert on the Tracey catalog; and esteemed South African anthropologist David Coplan.

Excerpt from podcast of interview with Professor David Coplan:

“If not for Hugh Tracey, we wouldn’t have any of this music because you can’t go out in the countryside and hear it as you could then. Or, if you do, like with the bow playing lady who’s now become quite famous, it’s been this sort of world music movement that hit everybody and now there’s a great deal of consciousness now about what you’re doing when you’re playing your traditional music. And that there’s a whole – the sort of, I don’t want to call it the naturalness – but the un-self-consciousness about, “Well, here’s this guy with this microphone. We’re going to sing our music,” is no longer there.

Now it’s got to be a contract thing and there’s got to be agreements even to do that. So, it’s very important to have all this stuff and it will be there as one of the great resources and testimonies. Since we’ve thrown it all away, so to speak, it’s important to have it. People have been talking about African culture dying for years and Africans themselves talk all the time about how we are throwing away our culture. Well, they’ve been throwing it away for a hell of long time – I wonder when they’re going to run out because, as I often tell people, 100 years ago, black newspaper writers were writing exactly this. “We’re throwing away our culture.”

Listen to podcast here.

See also here and here.


BBC Radio 3’s World Music Archive

April 6, 2015



from and

BBC Radio 3’s World Music Archive

Praises to BBC Radio 3’s World Music Archive, which makes available a decade of site-specific programming from across the globe, compiled and presented by the indefatigable Andy Kershaw  and Lucy Duran. Given the financial resources and massive international audience of which the BBC can boast – and those in an age when nearly every other like minded outlet is hemorraghing both – it’s no wonder that Radio 3 has consistently churned out some of the most well-wrought radio explorations into living vernacular music anywhere, in the spirit of mid-century folk-music programmers like Peter Kennedy and Alan Lomax, but far surpassing their geographical breadth.

The  globally-accessible online archive  features indigenous music from some of the world’s most dangerous conflict zones, as well as its most inaccessible states. There are audio clips of singing waitresses performing sea shanties on the coast of North Korea, and harp-playing cowboys in rural Venezuela.

In all, there will be 100 hours of programming on the BBC’s World Music Archive, alongside dozens of photographs of recordings being made in the most remote locations. Essentially the resource – a mix of entertainment, journalism and curation – comprises the output of Radio 3’s world music programmes from the past decade. An index offers the music of 40 countries.

Kershaw, who recently returned to Radio 3 after two years off-air, is especially excited to have his back catalogue given a permanent platform. “There are documentaries here I’d forgotten I’d made, some of which uncover the music and the reality of life in the world’s most extreme, secretive, feared and misunderstood countries,” he said. “I’m amazed some these regimes let me out. Even more amazed they let me in. Since joining Radio 3 in 2001, it seems I have seldom been home. This archive would explain why.” (more…)

Studs Terkel and Bill Broonzy

April 1, 2015



What do you get when you take one of the foremost oral historians of the 20th century, and sit him down with one of the most beloved blues musicians of all time? The legendary interviews of Studs Terkel and Big Bill Broonzy, which took place over a period of several years, between 1954 and 1957.

Luckily for us, some of these were captured for the sake of posterity at the WFMT radio studios (where Studs hosted a daily radio show for almost half a century), finding eventual issue on the Folkways Record label. A box set of his last recording sessions, “The Big Bill Broonzy Story,” also featured music and additional dialogue between these two iconic figures, and fast friends.

As for Studs, he always seems to ever so gently guide the proceedings, while clearly taking delight in what transpires. Although he never appears to be intrusive, he does occasionally stop to ask a question, if it seems that some minor point needs clarifying. As for Big Bill, he seems most intent on telling his story — his truth, as it were — so that the events and details of his life could be shared and remembered.

So that we could know, firsthand, what it was like to be a blues musician or a railroad porter, a short order cook or a plowhand, a janitor or a dishwasher, or to work on a levee camp — in other words, too many to count. But as Big Bill later reveals, to have the blues, you had to have lived that life. And in turn, everything that Big Bill was or ever did, became the very fuel and fodder for the hundreds of blues songs he wrote and sang over the decades.

Although it’s hard to know exactly how to describe what you’re about to hear over the next couple of programs, suffice it to say that we find two men — each of whom has great respect and admiration for the other — engaged in a fascinating and compelling dialogue. One that is coupled with an underlying and ever so faint sense of urgency. To try and get the story out before it’s too late.

The week after Big Bill’s last recording sessions, in July 1957, he underwent surgery for lung cancer. He’d had a rather worrying hunch about it, one that he confided to Studs. He told him he was afraid they were going to cut his vocal cords. Studs tried to reassure him, saying it wasn’t his throat they were after, it was the lung. “But the knife….” he told Studs. But the knife….

Big Bill Broonzy passed away one rainy and stormy August morning in Chicago, in 1958. As Studs later put it, it was just one more storm this Big Man was passing through.

After interviewing thousands of people around the world and authoring countless books, Studs Terkel passed away at the age of 96, in October 2008. And while it’s hard to grasp the enormity of his lifetime of achievement — being, as it were, the ears to the world — there remains something extraordinarily special about those times that two old friends, Studs and Big Bill, sat down in front of a microphone and talked about the blues. One of them had a guitar in his hands. The other kept an eye on the ever-revolving spool of audio tape. And what transpired between them, it’s fairly safe to say, will live on in the hearts and minds of blues fans for all time.

Listen: Studs & Big Bill (Part 1, Hour 1)

Part 1, Hour 2

Part 2, Hour 1

Part 2, Hour 2



Music of Georgia

February 27, 2015


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Russ Tanner (fiddle) and Phil Tanner at Tanner’s Chicken Shack in Dacula, GA


Music from Georgia: World Routes, An Appalachian Road Trip, Episode 3 of 3

Musician and writer Banning Eyre heads to the American state of Georgia, gateway to the Deep South, and southern end of the Appalachian Mountains, to record some of the unique vocal music that has been preserved in the area, and meet the personalities who have kept the traditions alive.

Banning drops in to the converted chicken shack that is home to Phil Tanner and the Skillet Lickers, to hear them in their weekly session. Phil is the grandson of chicken farmer Gid Tanner who in 1924, with the original Skillet Lickers, became the first southern rural artist to record for the Columbia record label, and whose blend of music and comedy sold millions.

He meets 92 year old blind gospel legend Sister Fleeta Mitchell, who still sings and plays the piano alongside her musical companion the Revd Willie Mae Eberhardt, herself in her late 70s. Together they recall disturbing tales of life in the south, and the songs that gave people hope.

The Myers Family and Friends, a singing family of guitar playing ladies, recall the songs they sang as children for corn shuckings and bean stringings, and local artist and folk song collector Art Rosenbaum talks about the unique character of North Georgia, and picks a tune on one of his many banjos.

As well as the banjos and the ballads, Banning also attends the 141st Annual Alpharetta June Singing, and discovers that the 19th Century tradition of congregational ‘shape note’ singing still lives on in the south.

Listen here.

Joe Bussard Radio Show

October 3, 2011

Fun to put on when you are cooking supper ….Boy this 9/25/11 show sure gets off to a great start .. we forgive Joe for screwing up performers name at end of the selection…. ha! I remember when I first heard this tune .. I was apple picking up in Peru, NY .. Floored me!

Right here

The TRANSFRONTIER Sound System Nº1

September 30, 2011

Ephraim McDowell of Brattleboro, VT has created a series of music podcasts called Xillbilli Mau-Mao that mix American old time and African music.  Highly recommended.  Here’s Brother Eph:

This is where the Southern Highlands of America buck dances with the “Motherland” – big ole Africa… Yesterday, today & tomorrow.  Worldwide, Hollers, Nooks & Crannies, Appalachian Old-Time music, Afro-Beats, Hillbilly Blues, Country & Eastern, Banjo & Fiddle tunes, Xalam & Kora improv, Griots bills paid in full, Boubon & Highlife, Mento Breakdowns, Oud laments, Field Recordings from the darkest basements, Holler Dub & Jungle Mixes, Self-determination & Sustainable designs, Finger picking guitars from Eastern Kentucky & East Africa…..   (from

Listen to Xillbilli Mau-Mao’s  “Kentucky to Kenya” podcast: