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Songlines World Music News Win flights to Morocco and tickets to the Essaouira Gnawa and World Music Festival!



Courtesy of the Moroccan Tourist Board, we have a pair of return flights and full festival passes to the Essaouira Gnawa and World Music Festival in 2018 to give away!

The colourful world of the Gnawa is awash with rumours of spirits and mystery, and recent years have seen it grow out of the hidden courtyards and onto the world stage. In the January/February (#134) edition of Songlines, Andy Morgan travels to Morocco to meet the masters and tap into its brotherhood.

In June this year, Essaouira’s now world-famous Gnawa and World Music Festival celebrated its 20th anniversary. Tens of thousands of Moroccans crowded into Place Moulay Hassan to see some of the greatest Gnawa maalem (masters) fusing their art with the music of Carlinhos Brown, Ismaël Lô, Lucky Peterson and others.

We’re delighted to offer one lucky winner a pair of return flights and full festival passes to the 2018 edition of the festival.

Click here to enter the competition.

The Essaouira Gnawa and World Music Festival takes place June 21-24, 2018. For more information, visit

Terms & conditions: The tickets are for two people travelling together and must be used specifically for travel to the 2018 Essaouira Gnawa and World Music Festival (June 21-24). Flights are for London-Essaouira-London in economy class and always subject to availability. The tickets are non-transferable and have no cash value. Travel must originate in the UK. This prize is non-negotiable, non-refundable and does not include insurance, accommodation, transport to and from the airport and any sustenance during the stay. Reservations for the flights must be made at least 60 days before departure. See p19 for our standard competition rules and deadline.

from Songlines World Music News
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Songlines World Music News Culture Ireland: Music from Ireland 2018 – Bonus CD

Screen Shot 2017-12-07 at 10.15.16

This bonus CD is exclusively available with the January/February (#134) edition of Songlines

This year Showcase Scotland, Celtic Connections’ industry event, has selected Ireland as the spotlight country. Given Irish artists’ long-standing participation at the Glasgow festival, it’s appropriate that a new generation of emerging Irish artists take centre stage as Celtic Connections celebrates its 25th anniversary. This compilation, specially compiled for Songlines, celebrates the diversity and artistry of young musicians working across the folk and traditional genres, stretching boundaries and producing the new, unmissable music of today.

The Showcase Scotland participation at Celtic Connections is part of Culture Ireland’s special GB18 programme: Promoting Irish Arts in Britain, a year-long programme of activity presenting Irish artists across Britain and celebrating our cultural links with Ireland’s nearest neighbour.

This 12-track CD features many of Ireland’s top emerging artists.



1. Daoirí Farrell – ‘Pat Rainey’,  True Born Irishman (2016)

2. Wallis Bird- ‘Change’, Home (2016)

3. Aoife Scott- ‘All Along the Wild Atlantic Way’, Carry the Day (2016)

4. The Young Folk – ‘Home’, First Sign of Morning (2016)

5. Lorcán Mac Mathúna – ‘A Grey Eye’, The Arrows that Murder Sleep (2015)

6. NOTIFY- ‘In Continuum’, InConcept (2015)

7. Aoife Scott – ‘Down by the Shelleybanks’, Carry the Day (2016)

8. NOTIFY – ‘The Aud’, Previously unreleased (2017)

9. Daoirí Farrell – ‘Van Diemen’s Land’, True Born Irishman (2016)

10. The Young Folk- ‘First Sign of Morning’, First Sign of Morning (2016)

11. Wallis Bird – ‘Seasons’, Home (2016)

12. Preab Meadar – ‘Séadnadh Mór (The Lion and Fox)’, Preab Meadar (2014)

These artists perform at Showcase Scotland (January 31- February 4 2018) during Celtic Connections (January 18- February 4) as part of Culture Ireland GB18: Promoting Irish Arts in Britain

from Songlines World Music News
Take a look at what’s in Folk, World & Country at mandersmedia on Discogs

Songlines World Music News Top of the World albums: Songlines #134 (January/February 2018)

Here is our selection of the top ten new releases reviewed in the January/February 2018 issue of Songlines. Tracks from each of these albums are included on the free cover-CD with issue #134.

To buy the new issue or to find out more about subscribing to Songlines, please visit:



La Chiva Gantiva
An album of kick-ass cumbia, fiery combinations of rock and hip-hop, crowd-pleasing anthems and impassioned raps, as heard on this opening track. You’ll be dancing along in no time.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Maryam Saleh, Maurice Louca & Tamer Abu Ghazaleh
Five stars for this innovative album with influences from all sides of Arabic music, from Sufi music to electro-chaabi.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Boubacar Traoré
Dounia Tabolo
Recorded in a studio deep in Louisiana, this album features some talented guests including Cedric Watson and Leyla McCalla, who help make Traoré’s blues more profound than ever.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn
Echo in the Valley
Washburn’s striking voice takes the lead here while the duo’s banjos provide atmospheric accompaniment.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Belem & the MeKanics
Belem & the MeKanics
A splendidly eccentric album from this duo and their unusual mechanical band of marvels. This track showcases the elegiac quality of the accordion, sonorous cello and Walter Hus’ musical machine.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino
An album that sees the pizzica superstars set about combining homegrown sounds with multicultural influences.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



XL Recordings
This excellent second album from the French-Cuban sisters features captivating vocals (that particularly shine on ‘Valé’), sophisticated use of samples, giant Yoruba beats and theatrical presence.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Kapela Maliszów
Wiejski Dżez
Unzipped Fly Records
Talent runs in the family as this father and his children perform wild mazurkas, polkas, haunting dances and original tunes in an album of music rooted in vanishing Polish traditions.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Laissez Passer
The bouncy and catchy title-track has clear desert influences and is named after the temporary travel documents given to those living in Israeli-occupied Syrian territory, the Golan Heights.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Maya Youssef
Syrian Dreams
Harmonia Mundi
The virtuosic ability of qanun player Maya Youssef is clear both on this track and on the entire dream-like album, which she describes as her ‘personal journey through the six years of war in Syria.’
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify

Pick up the January/February 2018 issue of Songlines to enjoy our Top of the World cover-CD, which contains tracks from each of the albums above. This issue also includes an additional bonus CD: ‘Culture Ireland: Music from Ireland 2018′. To find out more about subscribing to Songlines, visit:

from Songlines World Music News
Take a look at what’s in Folk, World & Country at mandersmedia on Discogs

Songlines World Music News Introducing Songlines issue #134 (January/February 2018)


The January/February 2018 (#134) issue of Songlines is now on sale!

Our cover feature this issue is about Gnawa music from Morocco – from its spiritual healing roots to becoming a global festival phenomenon. Other features include our round-up of the Best Albums of 2017; an interview with Irish fiddle player, Martin Hayes and his new quartet; Italian pizzica pioneers Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino; a Beginner’s Guide to the Tunisian oud master Anouar Brahem; a Spotlight on Scotland’s Blazin’ Fiddles; Introducing TootArd from the Golan Heights, plus the latest CD, book, world cinema and live reviews. 


The Top of the World CD includes tracks from Ibeyi, Boubacar Traoré, Maya Youssef and Belem & The MeKanics, as well as a guest playlist from Peruvian restaurateur, chef, writer and DJ, Martin Morales, featuring music from Ojos de Brujo, Bonobo and others.


There’s also an exclusive bonus CD from Culture Ireland featuring a selection of emerging Irish artists who will be performing as part of Showcase Scotland at Celtic Connections 25th anniversary edition in January.


To buy the new issue or to find out more about subscribing to Songlines, please visit:

from Songlines World Music News
Take a look at what’s in Folk, World & Country at mandersmedia on Discogs

Songlines World Music News Trad stars align to celebrate the MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards 2017


On Saturday, the biggest names in Scottish traditional music gathered at the 15th MG Alba Scots Trad Music Awards, with Elephant Sessions, Skipinnish and Talisk (pictured) all picking up prizes

On December 2 the stars of Scottish traditional music gathered at Paisley’s Lagoon Leisure Centre to celebrate the best of traditional talent from the past year. Broadcast live on BBC ALBA and BBC Radio Scotland, the prestigious event featured performances from Elephant Sessions, The Shee Big Band, Siobhan Miller and more.

The award for Album of the Year went to innovative folk-rock five-piece Elephant Sessions for their second album All We Have is Now, while Live Act of the Year was clinched by Highland band Skipinnish. The coveted Scottish Folk Band of the Year award went to fast-rising folk trio Talisk, while Robert Robertson picked up Gaelic Singer of the Year.

The full list of winners 

Album of the Year – All We Have is Now by Elephant Sessions
Community Project of the Year – Tiree Songbook
Composer of the Year – Adam Sutherland
Live Act of the Year – Skipinnish
Citty Finlayson Scots Singer of the Year – Siobhan Miller
Up and Coming Artist Award – 
Music Tutor of the Year – Emma Tomlinson
Gaelic Singer of the Year – Robert Robertson
Folk Band of the Year – Talisk
Dance Band of the Year – Duncan Black Band
Scottish Pipe Band of the Year – Inveraray & District Pipe Band
Club of the Year – Edinburgh Folk Club
Instrumentalist of the Year – Gary Innes
Event of the Year – A Night for Angus (Shooglenifty at Celtic Connections)
Trad Music in the Media – BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards
Venue of the Year – Tolbooth (Stirling)


from Songlines World Music News
Take a look at what’s in Folk, World & Country at mandersmedia on Discogs

Songlines World Music News La Linea Festival: First line-up announced


Ana-Tijoux-©.Mário Pires

Photo: Mário Pires

The London Latin Music Festival, La Linea, will return in April 2018 with an eclectic line-up of artists

The first acts set to perform at London’s La Linea Festival, the London Latin music event which runs for ten days at the end of April, include Buena Vista Social Club frontman Eliades Ochoa, French-Chilean musician Ana Tijoux (pictured) and legendary Senegalese dance group Orchestra Baobab.

Since its inception in 2001, the festival has shone a spotlight on both emerging and established Latin acts, providing an international platform for their work. Taking place London-wide in a variety of venues including the Barbican, Electric Brixton and the Royal Albert Hall, La Linea will continue to ignite a Latin spark across the capital this April.

The first acts confirmed are:

Ariwo + Soundspecies
Eliades Ochoa
Ana Tijoux
Orchestra Baobab
La Pegatina

Click here for more information

from Songlines World Music News
Take a look at what’s in Folk, World & Country at mandersmedia on Discogs

Songlines World Music News Lo’Jo at Rich Mix, London



photo: Fabien Tijou

Veteran French fusion group Lo’Jo will perform at London’s Rich Mix on December 6

For 35 years French outfit Lo’Jo have been breaking musical ground with eclectic combinations of instruments and cultural melting pots of sound. Their recent album, Fonetiq Flowers, was released to much critical acclaim and was a Songlines Top of the World in #132 (November 2017). Their sound is practically impossible to pigeon-hole, with influences ranging from African swing to Berber blues to Gypsy dance. This is a live experience not to be missed!

Get tickets here

from Songlines World Music News
Take a look at what’s in Folk, World & Country at mandersmedia on Discogs

Songlines World Music News Songlines Best Albums of 2017


Songlines’ editors Jo Frost and Simon Broughton select their favourite albums of 2017

Jo Frost and Simon Broughton have handpicked their ten favourite albums of the year from over 700 featured reviews. Below you will find their choices for this year’s greatest albums, accompanied by the original Songlines reviews, but be sure to pick up a copy of the new issue (January/February 2018, #134), on sale December 8, for a full rundown.

Subscribe to Songlines today to discover the best music from around the world.



Justin Adams featuring Anneli Drecker



From his solo debut with 2001’s Desert Road through to his production work with Tinariwen, collaborations with Robert Plant and Lo’Jo and his fine series of albums with Gambian griot Juldeh Camara, there’s not much on Justin Adams’ well-travelled CV that hasn’t earned the Songlines stamp of approval. Inspired by the work of visual artists such as Joan Miró and Jackson Pollock, Ribbons is an endlessly captivating set of ‘sound paintings’ that eschew conventional rock dynamics in favour of slowly shifting abstract patterns in which Adams’ filigree guitar is filtered through a prism of loping Tinariwen grooves, Steve Reich pulses, Gnawa trance rhythms and droning raga loops. Anneli Drecker, whom Adams met more than 20 years ago when they were both part of Jah Wobble’s Invaders of the Heart, is best known as the singer with Norwegian dream-poppers Bel Canto and Röyksopp. Currently researching a PhD on ancient and traditional singing styles at Tromsø’s Arctic University, she adds texture to the canvas with wordless vocals that evoke Björk at her most audacious and draw on global influences from Native American chants to Tuvan throat singing. Another pleasingly bold adventure. Nigel Williamson





(Real World)

With their lilting, soulful melodies, drums and guitars, the paranda songs of the Garifuna people are one of the world’s great musical traditions. Their unique blend of African, Caribbean and Latin influences reflects the extraordinary history of a people who can trace their ancestry back to the African slaves who escaped from a shipwreck to intermarry with the Arawak people of St Vincent, and who now live along the Caribbean coast of Central America. Since the death of the great Andy Palacio, it has been left to his former colleague Aurelio Martinez to promote this glorious, compelling music on the international stage. His fourth solo album is something of a magnificent curiosity. It’s a ‘Greatest Hits’ set – a selection of the most popular songs in his live shows, including nine that appeared on his earlier albums. And it’s also his answer to a live album, though it wasn’t recorded on stage but live at the Real World studios, soon after he made a tremendous appearance at WOMAD last year. Backed by his own guitar, two large Garifuna drums, bass, and twanging electric guitar from Guayo Cedeño, he treats songs such as ‘Dondo’, the charming ‘Laru Beya’ or the more slow and pained-sounding ‘Dugu’ to a thrilling, compelling work-over. Well worth checking out, even if you own all his earlier albums. Robin Denselow



Debashish Bhattacharya

Hawaii to Calcutta: A Tribute to Tau Moe

(Riverboat Records)

Bhattacharya is an extraordinary musician. He may be best known for inventing the slide guitars that allow him to play Indian ragas, but he has eclectic taste, as he shows with this tribute to the Hawaiian guitarist Tau Moe. It’s not as strange a project as it may first seem, for Tau Moe spent several years in India, where he taught and worked with local musicians. One of his students was a close friend of Bhattacharya’s childhood guitar teacher, and Bhattacharya first started playing on a Hawaiian steel guitar, when he was just three years old. Years later he travelled to Hawaii to perform with Tau Moe. This tribute set mixes Hawaiian favourites popularised by Tau Moe with new compositions by Bhattacharya. There are Indian influences and trademark rapid-fire guitar solos on the opening ‘Playful Melina on Diamond Head’, but the real delights are his treatment of the slow and charming Hawaiian favourites ‘Meeting by Waikiki’ or the melodic and sentimental ‘Aloha ’Oe’, along with the swinging and jazzy ‘Kaua I Ka Huahua’i (Hawaiian War Chant)’, on which he is joined by ukulele star Benny Chong. Hawaii to Calcutta: A Tribute to Tau Moe is a charming, virtuoso set. Robin Denselow



Kapela Maliszów

Wiejski Dżez

(Unzipped Fly)

Wiejski Dżez (Village Jazz) is a music rooted in vanishing traditions, reconnecting the here-and-now with the going, going, gone. It’s the fire of their improvisations that makes this music of tradition as relevant and contemporary as a broadband connection…

Read the full review of this album in Songlines #134, on sale from December 8




Decade: The Best of Lau 2007-2017

(Lau Scotland)

How can one possibly put together a compilation of the most exciting, musically adventurous trio in British folk without leaving out some of their classic recordings? Well, this is a brave attempt, partly curated by the band themselves, and with the exception of one track (an exhilarating 14-minute version of ‘The Lang Set’, recorded in 2011, four years after it first appeared on their debut album), it follows a strict chronological order. It starts with tracks from their first release Lightweights & Gentlemen in 2007, and ends with two songs from their fourth and latest offering The Bell That Never Rang, two years ago. Lau’s Orcadian singer and guitarist Kris Drever dominated at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (winning Folk Singer of the Year and Best Original Track) so it’s perhaps to be expected that the set starts not with a trademark freewheeling instrumental, but with a song – his gently exquisite treatment of ‘Unquiet Grave’. Then come the instrumentals, ‘Hinba’ and ‘Gallowhill’ as a reminder of the remarkable, tight interplay between Drever’s guitar with Martin Green’s accordion and Aidan O’Rourke’s fiddle, and their thrilling ability to improvise. Later tracks provide a reminder of how electronica entered the Lau mix on the Race the Loser album in 2012. Magnificent stuff. Robin Denselow



Orchestra Baobab

Tribute to Ndiouga Dieng

(World Circuit)

Despite the title, the first album from the legendary Senegalese dance band in a decade is not a tribute album in the usual sense. Instead, it is a set of mostly new songs that simply carry a heartfelt dedication on the cover to original vocalist Dieng, who died in November 2016 after singing with the group in every phase of its career since the early 70s. It would be crass to say he’s not missed, but one of Baobab’s strengths was that they have always boasted several lead vocalists and the sturdy voices of founder members Balla Sidibé and Rudy Gomis and the presence of Dieng’s son Alpha cover his loss without skipping a beat, while guest vocalists Cheikh Lô and Thione Seck (who left Baobab to go solo in 1979) provide further sinuous vocal variation. The rock-steady Afro-Cuban rhythms and sweetly lyrical brass arrangements also remain reassuringly familiar. Yet there have been changes. For the first time, a kora has a permanent place in the line-up, the dreamy cascades of notes from Abdouleye Cissoko taking centre stage in the classic Baobab shuffle on tracks such as ‘Fayinkounko’ and ‘Magnokoputo’, plus the acoustic ‘Mariama’, which sounds quite unlike anything else in the Baobab canon. To an extent, the kora fills the substantial gap left by veteran guitarist Barthélémy Attisso, who has returned to his law practice in Togo. His replacement, René Sowatche, a young guitarist from Benin, makes some spirited contributions, despite being very much a junior partner in the enterprise. It’s good to have them back. Nigel Williamson



Karine Polwart

A Pocket of Wind Resistance

(Hudson Records)

From the first note to the final, pulsing heartbeat, this is not merely an album of songs but a full 57-minute composite of music, field recording, song and spoken word. The results are devastatingly powerful…

Read the full review of this album in Songlines #134, on sale from December 8



Oumou Sangaré


(No Format!)

The last time this reviewer interviewed Oumou Sangaré was in January 2009. She was about to release the album Seya and the date sticks in the mind for it was the day of Barack Obama’s first inauguration. It was only her fourth album in a 20-year career and we’ve had to wait eight years for the follow-up. In that time the White House has received a scary new incumbent and Oumou has moved to a new label, after spending her entire career on World Circuit. The long absence and change of scenery seem to have done her a power of good. Mogoya remains rooted in the rich musical heritage of the Wassoulou region from which she hails. But this is also Oumou as we’ve never quite heard her before, for alongside the traditional African kamelengoni (lute) and calabash percussion, the sound is augmented by rock guitars, keyboards and synths, while Tony Allen guests on drums on the funky ‘Yere Faga’. This subtle but striking makeover comes courtesy of Swedish producer Andreas Unge and the crack French team of Vincent Taurelle, Ludovic Bruni and Vincent Taeger. Amid all the innovations, their smartest move of all, though, is to emphasise the raw power of Oumou’s voice to create perhaps her funkiest album to date. Nigel Williamson




At Least Wave Your Handkerchief at Me: The Joys and Sorrows of Southern Albanian Song


This is a journey into the mountains of southern Albania with producer Joe Boyd and engineer Jerry Boys. Boyd and co-producers Edit Pula and Andrea Goertler have assembled the eight-piece band drawing on the beautiful arabesques of saze, whose instrumental mix of clarinet, violin and lute originated in the 19th century, but whose vocal style, combining at least two melodic lines, is as old as the hills. That sense of deep soul and the intertwining of East and West, of the ancient with the tempered scale, will suffuse the whole of your journey through this album. Singers Donika Pecallari and Adrianna Thanou sculpt thrilling harmonies with the contrasting timbres of their voices, while the violin of Aurel Qirjo and the weeping clarinet of Telando Feto, a village music teacher, are equally compelling. Shepherds, flutes, flocks, bandits, the yearning heart, the rebel yell – the songs’ subjects are as old and tough as the mountains, but the sweetness and ache in the telling is fresh as milk. When the singers rest, the emotive kaba – the ‘Albanian blues’ – speaks just as powerfully through passages of melancholic improvisation. This is a superb introduction to a mysterious, little-known culture on Europe and Asia’s borders. This album is your visa, passport, local currency and point of contact. Tim Cumming



Trio da Kali & Kronos Quartet


(World Circuit)

This album is a sublime meeting of two superb chamber groups. On the one hand there is San Francisco’s string quartet Kronos, who’ve been exploring music around the world for 40 years; on the other, the relatively young Trio da Kali, featuring top musicians on Mali’s oldest instruments – the voice, the balafon (xylophone) and ngoni (lute). The trio, put together by Lucy Durán and supported by the Aga Khan Music Initiative, come from the sort of lineage that only Mali can provide: singer Hawa Diabaté is daughter of the great griot singer Kassé Mady Diabaté; bass ngoni player Mamadou Kouyaté is the eldest son of ngoni maestro Bassekou Kouyaté; and Lassana Diabaté is probably the country’s leading balafon player (and also composes most of the music). The opener ‘Tita’ has Trio da Kali taking the lead in a song of advice, with light quartet accompaniment until about three minutes in, when they respond with a great emotional outburst. In the upbeat ‘Lila Bambo’, the delicate counterpoint of balafon and strings is superb, thanks to arranger Jacob Garchik. When Kronos leader David Harrington first heard Hawa Diabaté, he says she immediately reminded him of gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. The most arresting track is ‘God Shall Wipe All Tears Away’, a Jackson song translated into Bamana, with the quartet imitating a church organ. The title-track is also a Mahalia Jackson melody, but with Malian lyrics about practicing what you preach, condemning Islamists praying and then murdering, as happened in Timbuktu. With its bluesy balafon solos and powerful fusion of two great traditions – the Malian, dating back to the 13th century, the string quartet dating back to the 18th – this record shows just how innovative, meaningful and musically satisfying such meetings can be. Simon Broughton

from Songlines World Music News
Take a look at what’s in Folk, World & Country at mandersmedia on Discogs

Songlines World Music News New Apple Music Playlist: Reggae Instrumentals

Reggae instrumentals icon

What with toasters galore, charismatic singers and vocal harmony trios, reggae is probably primarily a vocal music. Given, too, the thin line between it and both ska and dub, it’s a challenge to find pure reggae instrumentals that don’t stray too far into forbidden stylistic territories. Nevertheless, here are 14 suggestions that feature artists renowned more for their prowess on instruments like the bongos (Bongo Herman), drums (Sly Dunbar), keyboards (Jackie Mittoo), guitar (Ernest Ranglin), saxophone (Tommy McCook) and melodica (Augustus Pablo). Playlist by Mark Sampson for Songlines.


from Songlines World Music News
Take a look at what’s in Folk, World & Country at mandersmedia on Discogs

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