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SnC 173 – Wed 24 June 2009

Music from the US, UK, Canada and Taiwan this week. Just putting the show notes together and checking the recording I’m very conscious of the birds outside and the young pigeons who are nesting and tap-dancing in the space in the roof of the barn that was supposed to be reserved for barn owls. I’ve been up to Norfolk today to visit my dad and thought the Canadians might like a picture of Captain Vancouver who was raised in my birth-town (King’s Lynn). Even if you are not Canadian, you are still allowed to like it!U Suck Noodles – Variety Workshop (Oldsmar, Florida, USA)Oldsmar’s Variety Workshop have an eclectic sound that’s not quite jam, not quite reggae, not quite ska — but it’s definitely a whole lotta fun. Bassist Ryan Reilly, singer Evan Brenner, guitarist Robbie Pereira and drummer Brad Whitsett are skate fiends who have produced videos and even have their own art and video production company. In January, the band released their debut self-titled CD, which Brenner says "was the culmination of close to two years of dedication and devotion creating music that not only is diverse, but still has an element of mass appeal." www.myspace.com/varietyworkshopBlacksmith’s Dance – Eastern Block / Goran Ivanovic Group (Illinois, USA)EASTERN BLOK features classical guitar virtuoso GORAN IVANOVIC, joined by DOUG ROSENBERG on woodwinds, MATTHEW ULERY on upright bass, and MICHAEL CASKEY on percussion.
The band was originally dubbed Goran Ivanovic Group by founding members Ivanovic and Rosenberg. They teamed up with Ulery and Caskey in 2004. After successfully packing venues throughout the country and honing their musical direction, the band released their self-titled debut album in 2005. The Goran Ivanovic Group record met with critical acclaim, combining traditional folk music from the Balkans along with Latin, flamenco and klezmer elements, European classical influences and American jazz. The track Blacksmith’s Dance was selected out of thousands of submissions as one of three finalists in the 2005 John Lennon Songwriting Competition.www.easternblok.netNear my ear – Swimming in Speakers (New York, USA)From their first meeting in October 2008, multi-instrumentalist Chris Clarke and lead vocalist Meadow Eliz knew they wanted to write music together. The snowy, subzero climate of Saranac Lake, New York, lent itself well to winter days spent creating and recording in Chrisʼs home studio, where they crafted the "Swimming in Speakers" demo armed with a Casio, a laptop and a hodge-podge of analog equipment. Jo Sorrell (cello) and Justin Grizzoffi (percussion and guitars) add nuance to the tracks, and local NPR station NCPR granted access to their brand new studio for additional recording and mixing.Swimming in Speakers, the eponymous E.P. is the pair’s first collection of demo recordings. From the smoothly burbling synth pop of In Knowing (played a couple of weeks ago) to the slippery delicacy of Near My Ear and the lilting twists and turns of Nevergreen, Swimming In Speakers’ sound defies easy categorization.www.myspace.com/swimminginspeakersUndecided – MoShang (Taiwan)MoShang is a sound jeweller who blends downtempo electronica with Chinese instruments and sounds from the streets of Taiwan. Made in Taiwan (2004)Chill Dynasty (2006)Asian Variations (2007)Undecided is taken from his 2008 EP Stone Bellhttp://moshang.net/Friday Evening – The Big George Jackson BandI played a George Jackson tune (The Daddy) on SnC 015. Then I discovered that I’d already played this track almost exactly three years ago.The band recorded the album in their own homemade studio. It’s straight hard-core blues, reminiscent to the raw, biting blues of the fifties. The band sounds tighter than ever before. No wonder that George feels so at home with his friends. His singing is relaxed but intense. I believe you will agree… this man definitely has got Southern in his soul! He does not only write great songs, but has got a unique voice and knows to tell a story… something that’s getting rare these days. George is on the Black and Tan label based in the Netherlands.www.black-and-tan.com/Fannie Mae by Grandpa Elliot now on Playing for ChangeThe latest release from the Playing for Change project. Wonderful voice and harmonica from Grandpa Elliot in Jackson Square, New Orleans.Ethel’s Cats – musicians from Pig Dyke Molly (Cambridgeshire, UK)Molly dancing is from the Cambridgeshire Fens – last recorded in 1934 at Little Downham, near Ely. It was about entertainment in an area and at a time which saw little of it. It was about a challenge to the ‘normal’ rules: the Molly is a man dancing in women’s clothes (in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, London had its "Molly houses" where homosexual men met to drink, dance (!), flirt, dress as women and… enjoy themselves). It happened in midwinter – especially Plough Monday (see the Whittlesey Straw Bear for a revived similar celebration). It was a "cadging" custom, to extract money, or a drink. Its dancers wore disguise such as painted faces, goggles, animal heads.It lay almost forgotten for sixty years… then there was Pig Dyke Molly  (named after a drainage ditch) which has been performing since the early 1990s. Their aim is to take the essence of Molly, shake it by the scruff of its neck, and present it in a way that entertains 21st century audiences. The story goes that there was a lady called Ethel who lived in Ramsey Heights, in the Fens between Peterborough and Huntingdon. Ethel was very fond of cats, as you’d have to be if you had 543 of them.Unfortunately, Ethel wasn’t very rich. In fact she was so poor that eventually she couldn’t afford to feed the cats. So the cats got hungrier and hungrier, and one day they got so hungry that they ate Ethel.And to this day, if children in Ramsey Heights and nearby villages aren’t perfectly behaved, they are sometimes warned that "Ethel’s cats are hungry…" www.pigdyke.co.ukStanding in my way – Warren Charles (Los Angeles, CA, USA)Warren Charles is brothers W. Peter Jacobson & C. Lucas JacobsonTheir blurb says: "Warren Charles is a duo of quirky singer songwriters that share (and sometimes fight over) the spotlight. While they typically perform with just piano, guitar, and vocals, they can also play shows as a full band with drums and bass. Whatever the lineup, Warren Charles is perfect for the collegiate crowd who sees intellectualizing over music as a welcome form of procrastination."Standing in my way is from the latest album, delightfully titled When Chandeliers Sway (2009) which is available on CDBaby and iTunes.4 Jul 2009  16:00    Venice Beach 4th of July Extravaganza, Venice, Californiawww.warrencharles.comwww.myspace.com/warrencharlesSaalam (Club Mix) – EMAR (Ontario, Canada)EMAR (pron. Ehm-Ahr) is an international world music artist. Born in the Balkans and raised in Canada, EMAR’s multicultural influences inspire her to sing and record in several languages including Serbian, Hindi, Persian, Arabic and Church Slavonic. Her debut album Sacred Soul is available from iTunes, CD Baby and selected stores throughout Canada and the US.www.emarmusic.com/www.myspace.com/emarmusic

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