In a previous story I mentioned the Klezmatics nomination in Contemporary World music, a reader wrote to me to suggest that I take a closer look at the Traditional World music catagory:
Music Of Central Asia Vol. 2: Invisible Face Of The Beloved: Classical Music Of The Tajiks And UzbeksThe Academy Of Maqâm[Smithsonian Folkways Recordings]
Endless Vision Hossein Alizadeh & Djivan Gasparyan[World Village]
Hambo In The Snow Andrea Hoag, Loretta Kelley & Charlie Pilzer[Azalea City Recordings]
Golden Strings Of The Sarode Aashish Khan & Zakir Hussain[Moment Records]
Blessed Soweto Gospel Choir[Shanachie]
It is good to see Smithsonian Folkways and Shanachie release on that list. Shanachie has cut back on traditional, folk and Irish music releases and hopefully this nomination might help to change that.
It is even more pleasing to see Azalea City Recording artists nominated. The reader who e-mailed me noted that Andrea Hoag, Loretta Kelley & Charlie Pilzer are three Washington D.C. based artists who perform traditional and contemporary Scandinavian tunes. "Hambo in the Snow" is the trio's second CD, the first being "Hambo in the Barn".
Andrea is an American born Swedish fiddler who has also dabbled in American and Celtic fiddle tunes. In Sweden she studied with fiddlers Päkkos Gustaf and Nils Agenmark, in the Southern Appalachians with Wilson Douglas and Lily Mae Ledford, and in Scotland with West Highland fiddler Angus Grant. In 1984 she graduated from a course in Folk Violin Pedagogy at Malungs Folkhögskola in Sweden, where she studied with Jonny Soling and Kalle Almlöf.
Loretta Kelley is perhaps the foremost American performer on the hardingfele, a beautifully decorated Norwegian fiddle that has a nearly flat bridge. Loretta specializes in slått music - dance tunes rooted in the 18th century with sometimes unique asymmetrical rhythms, modal scales with "floating" intervals, and haunting tonalities.
Joining the fiddlers is Charlie Pilzer, who plays bass with the group. Charlie also performs with the pan-Scandinavian band Spælimenninir (“the folk musicians”) The groups members hail from the Faroe Islands, Denmark, Sweden and the United States and have performed on "A Prairie Home Companion".
For more information about the group, check out their website -
There are other Grammy catagories that feature aritists heard on Traditions. Trout Fishing in America and also Dan Zanes have been nominated for Childrens recording and there are catagories for bluegrass, blues, Native American, Reggae, Tejano and other forms of music that make up the fabric of "folk".
Best of luck to all, and we will report on the winners following the February 11th ceremony. Any attention that these awards draw toward folk music will be a benefit for all of us who enjoy it!
Sounds like a great lineup!! Check them out at www.outpostintheburbs.org
I know that probably will piss off a few people at Fox News and maybe the religious right by saying that, but I don't care. There are so many wonderful holidays to celebrate at this time of year that I am filled with the hope that we can all celebrate our diversity with simple "season's greetings" and not turn it into a political issue.
Which leads me to the topic of commercialism. This is the time of year where people complain about what the holidays have turned into. For the season of Chanukah, I hear people complain that a holiday that used to have children receiving gifts of fruit, nuts and candy has turned into iPods, Xbox and hi-tech "trinkets". People complain about the early start to the Christmas season and the expensive gift giving and endless holiday parties that the holiday brings.
It is not a seasonal phenomenon. Look at how we live in "modern" times. The problem of overweight people who start to resemble the globe we live on is a growing concern. I saw a photograph of my father taken in the 1930's - a handsome and very skinny man looking quite dapper. Certainly not the overweight man who died from congestive heart failure at the age of 83. When that picture was taken, everyone cooked. There were no fast food burger joints, frozen foods loaded with chemicals or take out food loaded with salt and calories. Over the years the way we eat has changed due to modern convenience and change in lifestyles.
Getting back to music, we can see how the art has changed along with technology. Popular music is not so much a product of creative process as it is the outcome of study groups and formulas. Turn on your radio station and the holiday offerings on most stations will consist of retreads of holiday "classics" by artists who seem to be going through the motion. Slap a holiday picture on the cover of the CD and you have a quick and cheaply produced moneymaker. This trend has been growing, but you can trace the start back to the early days of LP records.
When I started TRADITIONS back in 1980, I wanted to do something special for the holiday. While "carols" are not true folk-songs by most musiciologist definitions, I feel that they define the essence of what folk music can accomplish. My earliest memories are of my mother singing "Silent Night" and other carols. They became ingrained in me and part of my tradition.
As I began seriously studying folk music, I became fascinated by the history behind the songs. So, I decided that for Christmas 1980 I would produce a TRADITIONS holiday program. Originally called The Music America Christmas Party, the program featured artists like Pete Seeger, Odetta, Noel Sing We Clear, the Christmas Revels, and other artists performing traditional holiday music. I stayed clear from the elevator music that we were used to hearing.
I'm happy to say that the show was a success and this year will mark the 27th annual broadcast. It has become a tradition to present this annual program on the Sunday before Christmas. Each year I receive phone calls and e-mails from people who tell me that they gather with friends and family to listen. Some people trim the tree while the program is airing. It is a real honor to become part of the holiday tradition.
Each year I try to offer something different while incorporating features that define the program. Yes, we will present Robert Lurtsema's telling of the "The Night Before Christmas" once more! Even though we focus on the traditional songs, this year's plans include a sampling of contemporary songs as well. In the past, I've stayed away from many contemporary songs either because they were too sappy and thrown together(see "commercialism" comments above) or they were tired attempts at humor that fell flat. I'm happy to report that songwriters have been looking at the season with a keener eye in recent years, and I will share some songs that offer superb messages and looks at what the season is about. Spiritual and secular will be offered!
I hope you will tune in this Sunday, December 24th from 3 to 6pm ET on WFDU-FM (89.1FM in the NJ/NYC metro area or you can listen online at www.wfdu.fm ) . Also, if you have any requests - please be sure to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I will try to play as many as possible.