Thursday, August 26, 2010


Often when making small talk with people you've just met the subject of music comes up. Which means the invariable question of "what kind of music do you listen to?" or the alternative "who are your favorite artists?"

Being a world music DJ means that my favorite artists are those that most people outside of the US have never even heard of.

"Such as?" you ask. Well, such as Sanseverino a French singer/songwriter/guitarist influenced by Django Reinhardt but with a modern pop/jazz sound. Great fun and delicious music. Henri Dikongue from Cameroon. Acoustic guitar and warm, light, sweet vocals. Lesser known than most international African artists, but so wonderful. Omara Portuondo best known for her vocals with the Buena Vista Social club. This Cuban singer is probably in her 70s by now but that only makes her style more sophisticated and her voice richer.

Of those three, Omara Portuondo is probably the best known, simply because of her BVSC work. Within their own countries, the other two are well known and extremely popular.

The problem is that when I talk about the music I love, I get the impression that people think I'm a snob. I'm not. And I'm certainly not throwing out potentially obscure names to seem "in the know." It's just that I like music that you're not going to hear when you turn on the radio.

But, for the record, my favorite US artist of the past decade is Garth Brooks. So yes, I do like some popular artists. But honestly, I'd prefer to listen to Paris Combo. (Or Ken Hirai. Or Robert Mirabal. Or Tarras. Or....)

1 comment:

Duke said...

I can't say music is a big love in my life but I'm very fond of Bluegrass and jazz club guitar like Reinhardt. I'll also listen to classic 60's rock (cream, Santana, and so forth) but it's in small doses.

For the most part, the people I listen to are virtuoso instrumentalists. This explains my love of bluegrass, who have probably the best musicians in the world. That may sound strange, especially if you've never listened to much bluegrass, but I've found it to be universally true. I'm not saying bluegrass is the 'best music' because that's subjective based on your tastes, but merely the musicians who play it are supremely talented.

Like you, when I say my favorite artists are people like Johnny Staats I get a big 'HUH, who's that?'. You tend to lose most people past Lady Gaga.