After performing together for over 60 years, there aren't many gigs The Blind Boys of Alabama haven't played, but these soulful septuagenarians - fresh off a fourth consecutive Grammy win and Grammy telecast performance with Kanye West and John Legend - will make their South by Southwest debut this year, with a March 18 performance at the Austin Music Hall. With Robert Randolph, Mavis Staples and Amos Lee joining the bill, this promises to be the roots music event of SXSW '05.
The Blind Boys will also preview their March 18 SXSW showcase with a 1:30PM in-store performance that same day at Austin's Waterloo Records.
Following their SXSW appearance The Blind Boys will also make stops in Boston (3/26) and Ann Arbor (4/4 & 4/5) along with several dates with the legendary Charlie Musselwhite - who is also featured on their forthcoming album - in Philadelphia (3/29), New York (3/31), Ridgefield, CT (4/1), and Washington, DC (4/2)
You can hear a special preview of a track from the forthcoming Real World Afro Celt Sound System album on A day of World Music on Radio 3. Andrew McGregor hosts a virtual roundtable with Ian Anderson and Ben Mandelson, following the story of the genre latterly known as World Music - from a pub gathering in 1987 to Radio 3's own Awards for World Music. Meanwhile features through the day include the story of Malian bluesman Ali Farka Toure, a beginners guide to Indian classical concerts, and Lucy Duran following the making of a world music track by the Afro Celts. You can also catch an interview with Peter Gabriel and founder of WOMAD Thomas Brooman. This musical feast runs from 1pm to 6pm followed by the Radio 3 Awards for World Music Pollwinners Concert.
Is there no stopping them? The wonderful Blind Boys of Alabama have just picked up their forth Grammy in as many years for their collaborative album with Ben Harper 'There Will Be A Light'! Their win was in the catagory of Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album.
Coming up in March will be the release of a DVD of Ben and the Boys performing at the Apollo Theatre. Both album and DVD are available on Virgin Records.
Now released is a special version of 'Diam' by Daby Touré featuring two new songs and an enhanced track with his video for 'Dendecouba'. Daby will be touring Fnac stores in France to promote the new release, where his reputation just keeping growing. Watch out for touring dates in the UK in May.
It is with enormous sadness that we announce the death of Martyn Bennett after a long struggle against cancer. Martyn died in Edinburgh on Sunday 30 January. He has left behind an extraordinary and seminal body of work - influential recordings and the memory outstanding live performances. His last album 'Grit' is an image of a struggle and endurance - both of the singers featured and of Martyn himself.
"On various levels this is an extraordinary album. The charismatic fiddler/bagpiper/dance innovator has endured an horrendous couple of years battling with cancer, and Grit - born of pain, passion, emotion and a very real sense of roots - is the immense response. Paradoxically it's tender yet explosive; ancient and futuristic; beautiful yet violent; scarred yet triumphant; quietly reflective yet full-on dance.... Remarkable stuff." ( fRoots Magazine)
Anyone wishing to pass on their condolences to Martyn's loved ones can do so by mailing email@example.com and we will pass them on.
Hotel Rwanda, for which the Afro Celts have contributed to an outstanding soundtrack has been nominated for three oscars. Don Cheadle is up for Best Actor, Sophie Okonedo as Best Supporting Actress and Keir Pearson and Terry George for Best Original Screenplay.
Saturday night saw a packed Union Chapel in Islington for an inspiring performance of "I Could Read The Sky' with readings by Timothy O'Grady and music from Iarla O'Lionaird,Karan Casey, Martin O'Connor, Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill. (pictured at the event below)
You can still catch a performance in Glasgow, Gateshead. Southport and Stamford and at an extra date -the 30th January at the Irish Centre at Blacks Road in Hammersmith London (tel 0208 563 8232).
Real World artist and Afro Celt vocalist Iarla O Lioniard is set to join writer Tim O'Grady and a host of brilliant Irish musicians in theatres around the UK. Their show on Saturday 22 January in London will be the last ever musical performance at the popular venue of the Union Chapel in Islington.
In a recent interview Tim O'Grady describes the show:
"It's not a play," he stated firmly, his accent wavering between Irish and American - using "toon" for "tune".
"It's about an old man who migrated to England from Ireland.
"The character is a musician and what he's doing is remembering, so the tunes that are played are part of that and remind him of what he's left behind and what he is.
"I will be reading from the text, some musicians will be playing and we will project images onto the stage - some of Steve Pyke's photographs and also some images from a film which was made of the book.
"There will be guitar, accordion and violin, and singers who alternate different performances between songs and pieces of the book, with projection going on all the time.
"It's a performance of the book but not like a book - but it suits because of the way the book is written in that each of the incidents are more or less self-contained."
To me, the book appeared to be almost like a biography with its first-hand narrative, but Timothy assured me it's a work of fiction.
"I was actually born and raised in Chicago, and I then went to live in Donegal when I finished university. Then I moved to London but I was in Ireland a lot over a 20-year period.
"The book came about because my publisher was speaking to Steve about doing a book of his photos and he asked me if I would write some text to accompany it. And over a long period of time, it transformed into a novel."
Vocalist Iarla O'Lionaird (pronounced Earla O Leonard), who had been photographed for the book, then sang at its launch in Dublin, accompanied by musicians, which planted a new idea in Timothy's head.
"It was such a different experience and seemed to send the words out much better. So we rented the Shepherd's Bush Empire to perform it. It was a crazy idea at the time, but now, here we are."
The performances will also feature Karen Casey on vocals, Martin Hayes on violin, Dennis Cahill on guitar and Mairtin O'Connor on accordion. Full details of the show are on our tour section.
The original book by Tim O Grady and Steve Pyke and the CD of the soundtrack to the subsequent film are both available at the WOMAD Shop.