Getting You Ready For globalFEST 2012

Audio recordings from globalFEST will be posted soon. You can check out this page for full sets and festival recaps later in the week.

This Sunday, January 8 is globalFEST, one of the best world music events in the U.S. For that one night, 12 bands from around the world come to New York City for a marathon concert on three stages. It's the perfect way to stretch your musical boundaries for the new year.

We've curated a globalFEST music stream so start listening there. Next week on All Songs Considered I'll speak with my favorite world music journalists Banning Eyre, Anastasia Tsioulcas and Rob Weisberg, who will play highlights from the festival at Webster Hall. If you're thinking about coming to globalFEST, maybe these videos or the following preview of globalFEST 2012 from WFMU's Transpacific Sound Paradise DJ Rob Weisberg will entice you to make the trip. If you can't make it, stay tuned — we'll have audio of full concerts next week.


Meet The Artists by Rob Weisberg

Unlike globalFEST night proper, you get to sample this year's artists in slightly less frantic fashion in this mix.

The Gloaming is a new project featuring several top-notch players of traditional Irish folk music. These include Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh and Iarla Ó Lionaird, singer for the roots-electronic outfit Afro-Celt Sound System, as well as quirky, classically trained indie artist Thomas Bartlett a/k/a Doveman (who once covered the entire Footloose soundtrack).

Paris-based Haitian singer-songwriter BélO is noted for lyrics calling for political and social change. Reggae is a key influence, as are elements of Haitian traditional rhythm and melody.

The 9-piece powerhouse Yemen Blues is a Bedouin-inspired, horn-and-percussion-driven musical brainchild of Yemeni-Israeli singer Ravid Kalahani and bassist/oud player/arranger Omer Avital. When this band goes full throttle, total catharsis ensues — but there is also a subtler side.

You'll also hear Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino's careening pizzica tarantata and other traditional sounds from Salento, Puglia in southern Italy — a great tradition not actually heard that often in the US.

And there's perhaps the most sublime and experimental artist in this year's lineup, Chinese-born, Paris-based jaw harp master Wang Li, who uses both traditional and avant-garde techniques and improvisation to create a surprising sonic palette.

Deep-voiced French singer Zaz then brings us to new-generation French chanson and gypsy swing with elements of other styles in the mix.

Mayra Andrade is another engaging young singer, from Cape Verde via France. Cape Verdean music has long been notable for its stylistic range, influenced by Africa but also other Lusophone countries like Brazil and Portugal, and Andrade's base in Paris stretches it even wider.

The Silk Road Ensemble, as you may know, was initiated by the great cellist Yo-Yo Ma, but the group is now stepping out on its own without Ma. The Ensemble's dozen-plus virtuoso musicians play a range of traditional instruments spanning Europe and Asia, from the Chinese pipa of Wu Man (who's been featured on a Tiny Desk Concert) to the Galician gaita (bagpipe) of Cristina Pato.

We also pump up the volume with the New York-based Afro-Colombian juggernaut M.A.K.U Sound System. M.A.K.U has a rootsy base driven by its potent percussion section working from traditional Afro-Colombian rhythms, and its style sometimes extends into a swirling, psychedelic cumbia.

SMOD is a new Malian rap group that shows the influence of a couple of influential helpers. The Malian duo Amadou and Mariam are the parents of one of SMOD's members, and several songs are like rap-infused variations on their music. Producer Manu Chao gave the group's debut album an effervescent feel reminiscent of his playful and lively production on Amadou and Mariam's Dimanche a Bamako.

Diogo Nogueira is probably the biggest star in this year's lineup — albeit back home in Brazil, where he's a TV idol. He's trying to cross over to North America with his upbeat, Rio-style samba-canção.

And closing out globalFEST is Debo Band, a dynamic young Boston-based group with a brassy interpretation of the classic late '60s/early '70s Ethiopian sound. They should provide a rousing finale to a thoroughly enjoyable night of superb music from around the world.

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