March 19, 2013 |
William J. Ridenhour, 71, of Ambler, a gifted singer of African American spirituals and gospel music, died in his sleep Monday, March 11, at home. He was a heart patient, his family said. Mr. Ridenhour ran his own business, Celebrity Caterers, from home. Dapper and distinguished looking, he liked to move among people and make them feel welcome. He did that with his gift of gab, his cooking, and his singing. "There is a biblical term called 'given to hospitality,' and he was that," said his wife, Ann. "He loved people, and to chitchat.
January 14, 2013 |
Hard-driving African music held court Saturday night at World Cafe Live. And though rhythms of Africa and its diaspora dominated the proceedings, drums had very little to do with this domination. Debo Band, from Boston, has gone all in on the Ethiopian pop music of the 1970s, a veritable golden age of creativity in that venerable land. Though other groups, including Either/Orchestra, Debo's Hub homeboys, have done homage to this music, none is as adventurous or unabashedly traditional as Debo.
May 8, 2012 |
Vieux Farka Toure is a second-generation guitar luminary who has made a career successfully merging Africa and the diaspora. When he appeared at the Annenberg Center's Prince Theatre for the first of two sets Friday night, he showed the world he is not blending the music of his native Mali with that of other places. With an array of songs that ranged from African chamber music to Maghreb-Andaluz romps to slashing, incisive blues to joyous, rocking dance tunes, the guitarist showed the world that it's all been in Africa since the beginning.
March 25, 2012 |
Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the Nigerian bandleader and political firebrand whose life and legacy are celebrated in Fela! , the Broadway musical that completes its eight-show run at the Academy of Music with two performances Sunday, is a singular figure in pop-music history. As an artist, Fela - who's best known mononymously, like Madonna or Adele - continually expressed his contempt for the military dictatorship of his own country, as well for what he saw as the rapacious colonialism of Western business interests.
January 28, 2012
Theater The Scottsboro Boys is not a minstrel show. It's a musical, yes, the last by John Kander and the late Fred Ebb (book by David Thompson). It revives the characters and conventions of minstrelsy and it's plenty entertaining. But this tale about a very real miscarriage of justice uses every element of the minstrel form to highlight the viciousness and humiliations of racism. Philadelphia Theatre Company, producing the show's first post-Broadway incarnation, features some homegrown talent, including Eric Ebbenga, who provides sharp musical direction, and several Philly-based actors, including Forrest McClendon.
January 27, 2012
Stephane Wrembel's 2012 Django a Go-Go Festival The song and sound of Parisian hot jazz come to the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Friday night; more specifically, for Stephane Wrembel's 2012 Django a Go-Go Festival. The festival, a six-year-old tradition of New York jazz cafe society, celebrates the life and sweet-and-lowdown music of gypsy jiving guitarist Django Reinhardt and his lusty shuffling rhythms. Wrembel, too, is no slouch when it comes to the six strings and pulsating grooves.
October 21, 2011 |
Senegal's Baaba Maal is respected as both a musician and an ambassador of African culture, and his "Tales From the Sahel" pays equal attention to both roles. Typical of all of Maal's work, it's a hybrid. The 57-year-old has recorded with Brian Eno and with New York electronic artists Brazilian Girls, and he's long mixed traditional Senegalese styles with Jamaican reggae, American blues, and other genres. He studied music formally in Paris, and he's an international star who between tours returns to his native fishermen's village of Podor.
July 22, 2011 |
Friday-Sunday Exponential Experience A slew of artists from various backgrounds will play at the XPoNential Music Festival, sponsored by WXPN. Performers include Emmylou Harris, the Smithereens, Ben Folds, Ra Ra Riot, and Johnny Miles and the Waywards. Doors open at 4 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday and Sunday at Wiggins Park Marina in Camden along the waterfront at Mickle Boulevard. A three-day festival pass is $65, $45 for WXPN members. Daily tickets are $30, $20 for WXPN members, $5 per child each day. Information: 215-222-1400; www.xpn.org/concerts-events/festival11 . Saturday Music from the world The 40th Street Summer Series will continue this weekend with a free outdoor concert including Brazilian, Middle Eastern, and African music.
April 14, 2010 |
For the members of Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, "African music" isn't just a phrase; it's a sentence. Or at least that's how they used it at World Cafe Live Monday night, as if the music needed no subject or object to be complete. For a time, music was the closest to a home the group's eight members had. As chronicled in the 2005 documentary named for the band, they came together in refugee camps after being displaced by the civil war in Sierra Leone, a grisly affair in which tens of thousands died and many more suffered amputations at the rebels' hands.
February 19, 2010 |
'Every time I pick up my banjo it seems like there's something new waiting there for me to figure out," says Bela Fleck. Although he's best known for his work in bluegrass, with New Grass Revival and his own fusion group, the Flecktones, Fleck is a restless explorer. He's played jazz with pianist Chick Corea, composed classical concertos with bassist Edgar Meyer and Indian percussionist Zakir Hussain, and released a version of "Jingle Bells" with Tuvan throat singers. And that's just in the five years that have followed Fleck's three-month sojourn in Africa, exploring the origins of the banjo and collaborating with musicians from Mali, Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda, Senegal, and elsewhere.