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Monday, July 30, 2007

Rapid Fire Learning for July

The Lowell Folk Festival introduced me to five new groups but more importantly, to 3 new types of music, hence my Rapid Fire Learning for this month will be dominated by the Lowell Folk Festival.

1 - "sacred steel"
The Lee Boys is one of the country's most exciting groups playing "Sacred Steel," a music unique to House of God churches, where the steel guitar has been the driving musical force for spirit-filled church services for over 75 years. Rarely heard and largely unknown outside the church until recently, the Sacred Steel is now gaining a national following. While the Lee Boys' music is rooted in the church's gospel tradition, it is infused with elements of R&B, jazz, rock, funk, hip-hop and world music to produce a unique and powerful sound.
I think it is fitting that the "sacred steel" music introduced to the festival for the first time, actually came to mainland USA from Hawaii in the 1930's. Aloha, Rosa!

2 - "Gypsy jazz"
"Gypsy jazz" or "hot jazz" is the explosive, thrilling genre created from a melding of American jazz and Gypsy folk melodies. Almost since its inception, Gypsy jazz has been associated with its greatest exponent, Manouche Gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. His musical legacy has been reverently kept, passed from father to son by fellow Manouche musicians, with each generation expanding the repertoire and adding new influences tot to the genre. Because many of today’s finest Gypsy musicians prefer to perform close to home, the opportunity for U.S. audiences to experience their live performances has been extremely rare. This 2007 Lowell Folk Festival is honored to present Reinhardt’s rightful heir, the brilliant and charismatic Manouche guitarist, violinist and composer Dorado Schmitt leading an all-star ensemble of Gypsy musicians from France.

3 - "forró pé de serra"
The sounds of Brazil’s lilting, romantic bossa novas and swaying sambas are known throughout the world, but in the dry northeast interior of Brazil there is a different musical force. Forró for All is dedicated to a distinctive music of the Northeast, traditional forró pé de serra, performed with a sensibility born of New York City’s diverse and dynamic musical culture. Forró’s members are not all from the northeast interior, but represent the amalgamation of styles and sounds that make up the Brazilian-American experience. Many nights of the week in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens, Forró For All can be found playing for Brazilians and non-Brazilians alike, continuing the centuries-old tradition of creating an celebration for all to enjoy.

4 - With no RSS feed reader to distract. With no email to keep checking. With a stream meandering along just over the bank. With stars in the sky just like on the charts in the books. With time on one's hands to just sit and be. The sherku flowed. I am sure you noticed. Almost 20 sherku completed with more in draft. It was a productive time. And in case it needed to be reinforced, on how to induce such a productive time, look at the ingredients for stepping back and away from it all in your life. Then do so.

5 - The Cracker Jack prize has to be included. The return from the wilderness was made doubly good when the prize was discovered! Thanks again to Rosa for inspiring so many visitors and wonderful comments. The blogosphere is a great place to live and learn in!

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