In April we had the pleasure of hosting a group of Ethiopian musicians - brought together by producer Nick Page as Dub Colossus, to work on projects for Real World Records and their forthcoming B&W Music Club release - viewers of Peter Gabriel's monthly video may recall hearing a snippet of an impromptu highlight when Samuel Yerga, their 21-year-old keyboard prodigy, gave an impromtu performance on Peter's concert grand Bosendorfer - Sammy's sheer joy at the instrumant was infectious, captivating the few of us lucky enough to be in the room. That performance is now available as the track 'Ambassel In Box' on the four track Real World Records EP 'A Town Called Addis'
"I didn't have a piano until this spring," says Samuel Yerga, in an interview with David Hutcheon of The Times, "but most musicians don't own their instruments, we just can't afford them. There are so many other problems for the Government to fix first that music is still not an accepted part of the culture again. After the Derg, we are the first wave to break the ice, to take traditional music and turn it around. It will be good to see how people react.
Visitors to The Barbican last Friday, or Glastonbury Festival on Sunday may have been lucky enough to catch the first live outings for Dub Colossus in the UK, anyone who heard them play would be forgiven for thinking that they lived in a world where music and instruments were as available as the air they breath. If you missed them, the next best thing would be to head over to singer Sintayehu 'Mimi' Zenebe's Addis Ababa night club - where she's know as the Ethiopian Edith Piaf and regularly performs with fellow band member Teremag Weretow who, with his plaintive voice, playing his messenqo ( one-string fiddle) is a youthful carrier of an ancient tradition, but failing that check out the EP and watch this space for news of future releases and performances.
You can hear Peter Gabriel, Karl Wallinger and Stephen Hague talking about Big Blue Ball on NPR's 'Weekend Edition Sunday' from the Sunday June 22 show.
"It was just like a musical health farm, really," Wallinger says. "There wasn't any considerations other than the sounds you heard in the room, which were always pretty extraordinary and played by people who had been mastering their instrument in whatever way for however many years. I think the collective musical years that had gone down amongst everybody there would have been well into the thousands."
Big Blue Ball has taken on the curious legendary status of a slow maturing wine (or cheese). It is the creation of three years worth of Recording Week Sessions at Real World in the early 1990's but has taken many years to finally complete. This is the document of wonderful, rambling, spontaneous out-pourings of unexpected and unique musical collaborations co-produced by Peter Gabriel and Karl Wallinger. Now dusted down and whipped into shape by mixing supremos Stephen Hague and Tchad Blake. The record of those wonderful summery sessions is ready for release.
Featuring artists from a myriad of different cultures and nations - some well known names, others hidden gems of writing and performing talent .The Holmes Brothers, Jah Wobble, Billy Cobham, Joseph Arthur, Iarla O'Lionaird, James McNally, Deep Forest, Hukwe Zawose, Natacha Atlas, Hossam Ramzy, Marta Sebestyen, Papa Wemba, Sinead O Connor, Joji Hirota, Guo Yue, Peter Gabriel, Karl Wallinger ..and more .
"After all these years, it's a fine wine ready to be drunk," says Peter Gabriel, "It was the most fun music making I've ever had."
Release date in the USA is 24 June 2008 and for the UK 28 July 2008. For those in the UK it will be available in advance as a special offer to those attending the WOMAD Festival, Charlton Park.
Available on digital, CD, 150-gram double vinyl album in limited edition blue at 45rpm or standard black at 33 rpm.
The online WOMAD Shop will have some fun Big Blue Ball items for sale to accompany the release of the album.
We'd like to offer our warmest congratulation to Thomas Brooman - co-founder and for 28 years, from 1980 to 2008, Artistic Director of WOMAD, who was awarded the CBE (Commander of The British Empire) in The Queen's Birthday Honors List, "for services to Music and to Charity".
"Pure enthusiasm for music from around the world led us to the idea of WOMAD in 1980 and thus to the first WOMAD festival in 1982. The festivals have always been wonderful and unique occasions and have succeeded in introducing an international audience to many talented artists . Equally important, the festivals have also allowed many different audiences to gain an insight into cultures other than their own through the enjoyment of music. Music is a universal language, it draws people together and proves, as well as anything, the stupidity of racism." Peter Gabriel
June 9 sees the release of Dengue Fever's album 'Venus On Earth' on Real World Records. The album features a previously unreleased bonus track and is available worldwide outside of North America.
'Venus On Earth' has already received fantastic press reviews in the US and UK. Mojo magazine gave the album a 4 star review concluding 'Powerpop from the land where 1-2-3-4 is pronounced "muoy-pee-bye-boen"...the world's premier Cambodian psychedelic rock band'. THE TIMES newspaper asked 'Who will be the music stars of 2008?' Amongst the handful of serious contenders chosen were DENGUE FEVER. The article continued: 'If there is any justice in pop music, we'll all catch Dengue Fever before the year is out. A Los Angeles-based sextet whose lead singer, Chhom Nimol, left Cambodia at the start of the decade, Dengue Fever have reinvented the rock'n'roll recorded in Phnom Penh in the early 1970s (imagine Ethiopian funk meeting Bollywood soundtracks meeting American garage rock).'
Dengue Fever are performing at festivals around Europe throughout the summer. Visit our tour dates page for further details.
The Imagined Village live band opens the UK festival season at Wychwood. This will be the group's first appearance in 2008 following the success of the UK tour last year. The Wychwood Music Festival returns to Cheltenham Racecourse for its fourth year. With an eclectic mix of music, comedy, workshops and more, the festival plays host to some of the best artists from World, Folk, Indie, Jazz and Chillout. The festival has been nominated for the Best Family Festival Award in the UK Festival Awards every year so far.
As our sites begin to re-emerge on the web it's a joy to be able to add some new content, with some initial information on Big Blue Ball - including an interview with Peter Gabriel and Karl Wallinger and a remix pack from the album at Real World Remixed.
Our pack is from the track 'Exit Through You' from the long awaited 'Big Blue Ball', an album recorded over three Real World Recording Weeks, produced by Peter Gabriel and Karl Wallinger and featuring a dizzying array of international musicians. 'Exit Through You' opens with the distinctive vocal of Joseph Arthur with Peter Gabriel joining at the chorus for a funky spiky pop tune accompanied by Karl Wallinger and Justin Adams on guitars. The song was originally put together in a fast and furious live session in just over one hour back in 1995; further production work by Stephen Hague followed and a final mix came from Tchad Blake.