From Democratic Republic of Congo: STAFF BENDA BILILI
With the irresistible pulse of Congolese rumba, Cuban swing and James Brown–inspired funk, Staff Benda Bilili’s inspirational concerts and extraordinary story have caused a sensation across the globe. A group of paraplegic street musicians who used to live in and around the Kinshasa Zoo, the band consists of four seasoned singer/guitarists perched on spectacular customized tricycles, backed by a young acoustic rhythm section and a teenage prodigy who plays infectious guitar-like solos on a one-string electric lute he designed and built out of a tin can.
Tinariwen, a free-flowing band of nomadic Tuaregs, blends time-honored musical forms with a rebellious sensibility to create entrancing desert blues. A sensational live act, they electrify traditional Tuareg melodies with edgy blues, rock, pop, Berber and Arabic influences to create a gritty, hypnotic sound. Their most recent recording, Tassili, which included several tracks with members of TV On The Radio, won the 2012 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album.
"Tinariwen is just about the best guitar-based rock band of the 21st century."—Bob Boilen, NPR Music
One of the greatest percussion ensembles in the world, the Royal Drummers and Dancers of Burundi are a spectacle of music and dance. Full of energy, grace and pure athleticism, they hammer out compelling rhythms and complex syncopations while leaping, dancing and singing over their waist-high drums.
“Sheer pleasure! A celebration of ability.”—The New York Times
Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai, Mongolian khoomei throat-singer Shinetsog Dorjnyam, Mongolian yatag (zither) player Munkh-Erdene Chuluunbat and didgeridoo player Stephen Kent come together to create deeply evocative music.
They call upon three ancient traditions that are intrinsically linked through the experience of nomadic life, seasonal migrations, the sounds of nature and ultimately the earth itself. The musicians evoke a meditative and inspiring musical resonance.
Fine Arts Center Concert Hall, UMass Amherst campus
Heidi Miller, guest conductor
Mennin: Canzona, Maslanka: Mother Earth, Persichetti & more
Tickets are available on line www.umasstix.com/musicanddance or at the Fine Arts Center Box Office, 413-545-2511. Tickets are $3 for UMass Amherst students; $5 for other students, senior citizens, and children under 18 years of age; $10 for the general public.
On his latest release Just Us Kids, James McMurtry follows up his critically acclaimed Childish Things with a dozen new, sharply drawn illuminations as he continues to hone and expand his considerable gifts. The self-produced opus (James’ fourth venture pulling strings on both sides of the glass) unquestionably represents his most ambitious, accomplished and ass-kicking presentation to date. Just Us Kids will be the first release for Nashville-based Lightning Rod Records.