When the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) convenes in New York each year, one of the goals is to decide who will be performing on North American festival stages in the coming season.
An influx of independent musicians, many having traveled a great distance to be here, either over the course of their lives such as Brooklyn-based Innov Gnawa, or like Cuba’s Septeto Santiaguero, arriving direct from Cuba, enlivened city stages showcasing their talent for the music professionals.
Innov Gnawa, Moroccan Gnawa ensemble led by master Hassan Ben Jaafer, center, now based in Brooklyn, performing at the Barbes/Electric Cowbell showcase at the Manhattan nightclub Drom. All photos by William Farrington.
Septeto Santiaguero performing at the World Music Fire showcase at SOB’s in Manhattan.
Savvy local listeners have found that this cold January weekend has become the year’s most exciting weekend of live music, like being in the kitchen with the chefs as they prepare for the summer when hundreds of thousands will enjoy their efforts.
Jojo Abot, a dynamic Ghanaian performer currently staying in New York, on stage at globalFEST.
Part of attending a showcase is showing up with an open mind: seven or eight bands do short sets. While you might discover an artist who you wish would just keep playing the rest of the night, after a few songs it’s over and the next artist is scrambling to set up. Luckily there may be another opportunity, as with Septeto Santiaguero, who dazzled globalFEST with their music and footwork; a quick Google search showed they would be at SOB’s World Music Fire the next evening, where the intimate setting accentuated the band’s warm personality.
Vox Sambou, rapper and vocalist with his group during the Mundial Montreal showcase at Drom.
Over the course of four nights, I took in 30 performances. I enjoyed the camaraderie of the world music scene, and now look forward to seeing which artists will be returning during the year.
Vox Sambou, rapper and vocalist, originally from Haiti, now living in Montreal, with his group during the Mundial Montreal showcase at Drom.
Leyla McCalla, center, with Daniel Tremblay, banjo, and Free Feral, viola.
Sierra Leonean vocalist Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang at the Barbes/Electric Cowbell showcase. Janka’s music, based on the bubu rhythm of his homeland, was enhanced by the retro-psychedelic sound of the band. Janka says: “Bubu is an old, old music, but people don’t know about it. You can add new things into the beat if you know it really well, and make your own sound out of it.”
Hoba Hoba Spirit, from Casablanca, Morocco, who fostered an underground music scene there that paralleled the Arab Spring movement performing at globalFEST at Webster Hall in Manhattan, Sunday January 8th.
The Garifuna International Band, formed in New York from members drawn from Belize, Honduras and Guatemala, featuring Felix Gamboa on lead vocals, performing at World Music Fire showcase at SOB’s.
Christiane Obydol, vocalist of Zouk Machine, the all-female band that broke barriers on their way to stardom in the 1980s. At the World Music Fire showcase at SOB’s, dynamic as ever, she reprised her hits with a microphone and DJ backing her up.
Betty Bonifassi, a Canadian rock musician, performed music from her new album Lomax, on which she interprets work songs from the American south from 1920 Alan Lomax field recordings.
Alash, a trio of traditional throat singers and instrumentalists from Tuva on the Russian Mongolian border region, the subtle vocal technique held the Drom audience spellbound.