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Top Five Artists To Whom More People Should Listen To

Top Five Artists You Think More People Should Listen To

Before I begin: I used to collar people and demand that they listen to some particular track. It wasn’t generally successful. I did manage to ‘give’ a musician to a particular friend once or twice, but on the whole, people weren’t impressed by what I was spinning, and honestly I can’t imagine that I would have enjoyed the tracks while under the gun like that. Since that time, I’ve grown to understand that people are different, one to another, and that different people like different things, and that’s what makes the world interesting and fun. I have no way of knowing whether people will like a particular band, and I certainly don’t want people to have to listen to stuff they don’t like. That’s what radio’s for.

So, what criteria are left for me? First of all, there are artists who I think might not continue recording unless more people start listening to them. Then, I suppose, there are the artists whose work I would like to have in the referrosphere, just so my references to them would actually communicate something other than my own pretentiousness. That said, here are my Top Five.

  • The Klezmatics: I happen to like the lineup of this group, and would like to see the members rewarded for their stuff together, rather than for their other projects.
  • Jim’s Big Ego: I doubt he’d actually give up, and in these internetty days I don’t actually have to go to the CD release party to get any new stuff he puts out, but it would be nice to see him make a little money doing what he does.
  • Gilbert & Sullivan: Actually, now that my filking days are done, I would be happy if people just committed the libretti to memory. Being witty isn’t much fun if nobody knows I’m being witty.
  • Ben Thomas: By ‘more people’ here, I actually mean Your Humble Blogger. I special-ordered my old college buddy’s first album at Tower Records, and five years later they closed the store. Without coming up with the disc. I’ve been too lazy to get the thing since. He’s the only person I know in the music business, and I would like to see him become rich and famous, so he could lend me money. Hey, wait, he owes me money!
  • Woody Guthrie: It probably wouldn’t work, but it’s possible that if more people listened to Woody Guthrie, the current administration and its cronies would be tossed out on their collective ear, come the election. And, I suppose, it would annoy the right to listen, so there’s that petty benefit as well.

Sadly, I don’t think that any family members or close friends are in a band, so there’s no cash incentive in it for me. This is a tragic oversight.

chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,


what do people listen to now? that would help figure out what else people need to hear.

and that "should" is so cool to play with. good musicians with small audiences, that's one way. good musicians lost to demographic or geographic differences, that's another thing. good musicians who experiment (and are known only to other musicians). good musicians who were wiped out by a big, different trend alongside them. good musicians in the dust bin. good musicians who don't play very often. good musicians with a hit song that's nothing like their usual great stuff.

good musicians trapped in a bad contract. good musicians who died before anyone figured out how amazing they were. good musicians who used to be just okay with a different band. good musicians who take some time to appreciate. good musicians who are great live and make bad records.

wow this could go on a while.

i guess on thinking this over that in the last few months i've totally switched on how i look at this question. the assumption is that the suggested artists all make music within the boundaries that the listener understands, right? i mean everyone who has recommended music to someone has heard the "oh! ick! that made me vomit!" sort of thing. and also, been the one doing the hurl.

i'm just about through with a semester course in the musics of the caribbean and latin america. the lectures covered history, rhythms, arrangements, lyrical subjects, etc. for equal time though i had to closely listen to more than 30 hours of music from all over down there and from the parallel universe that is the spanish-speaking US.

okay so... what i learned from the class more valuable than anything else is how integral rhythms are to one's "ear." it's unbelievable how much being able to tap your foot to "the rhythm" defines which stuff is ours and which isn't. if someone sits down and claps out the foundation of a "foreign" beat, talking about where it comes from (they all come from somewhere, if not many-where), demonstrates how people dance with the stuff, that opens up the entire body of music from that place or those people. i guess.

i really recommend finding a class that does that for the southern western hemisphere. here are five women who, after that kind of ear-adjustment, become amazing...

celia cruz. born in cuba, famous here, the voice of salsa music forever and a day. recommend: on fire: the essential celia cruz or the best of celia cruz.

totó la momposina. a colombian woman with insane commitment to finding and performing music from her part of the world. try pacantó.

marisa monte from brazil. she does everything and the more you know about brazilian music, from all regions, the better you'll like rose and charcoal. um obviously there's tons of other music. brazilian music is a world unto itself.

mercedes sosa from argentina. she sings political songs from all over the americas. we've had the compilation 30 años for about a year and now that i've had some exposure to the different ballad styles, her facility with all of them is amazing.

sharlene boodram. okay this is a weird choice. she's of east indian descent and she sings ragga-chutney - which is to say, modern dance music that derives from hindustani music, calypso, dancehall reggae, kompas from haiti, and who knows where else. her album colours of unity will be difficult to find but what it contains is an amazing blend of all the stuff that's been churning in the caribbean since the end of the colonial governments.

+1 because mexico can't be ignored... linda ronstadt's albums canciones de mi padre and más canciones are pretty good!!!

this is like a drastically condensed version of the rough guide to world music - i've been using it heavily. the selections though come from learning about the music and the folks and suggesting a way to meet them. really though, i recommend a class.

(sharlene boodram is from trinidad.)

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