April 1 , 2006

Issue IV:
Escape from NY
White Hassle,SXSW,
and Mardi Gras


04/17 - 04/23, 2006






Buy New York Night Train Recordings here...

Kid Congo Powers, Solo Cholo

Grand Mal,
Love is the Best Con in Town

Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds, Philosophy & Underwear

Plus upcoming releases by:

Viva l'American Death Ray Music (June)
Dimestore Ensemble (June)
MC Trachiotomy (July)
Vietnam (July)
Ghost Exits
Moon and Moon
Cause for Applause
Gibby Haynes



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For this week's New York Night Train show list go here. For information about the venues go here. Click the names in bold to learn more about the artists.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Lion of Africa

Thomas Mapfumo & the Black Unlimited – S.O.B.’s $20-$22
If I had to pick one show tonight I’d be watching Lion of Africa himself in the flash with his amazing backing band Blacks Unlimited at S.O.B.’s. Famously playing an important role in the 1970s civil war that helped transform Rhodesia into Zimbabwe, Thomas Mapfumo’s music is equally vital today. Mapfumo’s sound fuses the traditional Shona music that he grew up with in the countryside with contemporary rock, pop, and soul – a potent hybrid that he labeled “Chimurenga,” (or “struggle” in Shona – and a name that appears in the titles of most of his CDs). Mapfumo’s singles were not only the soundtrack to the revolution, but also played an important role via the coded messages within. The Rhodesian government imprisoned him in 1977 over his controversial song, “Hokoya (Watch Out).” Though he, along with Bob Marley, performed to celebrate the independence and election of Robert Mugabe, Mapfumo soon musically and verbally targeted the corruption of the new leadership – which eventually resulted in his exile. Mapfumo hasn’t abandoned the theme of his life and music – his new record is entitled Rise Up.

In addition to Mapfumo’s story and his politics, I'm also drawn to the music that is inseparable from the former. With his radio feeding him a steady diet of Rolling Stones and Wilson Picket, he was part of the first generation of African rock’n’roll rebels - performing live in his teens and even arrested once for wearing his silver stage jacket in a police raid. So this young rocker got the melodies played on the mbira (or thumb piano – a popular a local instrument) and translated them into harmonized arrangements for electric guitars. The result was some of the most some of the most unique, masterful, and dizzying guitar work ever performed in pop songs. Defiantly singing in Shona, he also worked drums and horns into the traditional music and wound up a national, African, and world music star. The better stuff is mesmerizing at least and transcendent at best. While Mapfumo continues to produce groovy, but slick, music, I recommend that you start out with his early singles, which are the rawest, and therefore closest to my personal taste. You can easily find these on the first half of the widely available new DBK Works compilation Spirits to Bite Our Ears. Get entranced...


Adelynm The Flood, Metro-sexuals, The Shorebirds, The Upwelling – Pianos $8
Bill Frisell Quintet - Village Vanguard $30/$35
The Brunettes, Nicole Atkins & The Sea, The Wowz, Patricia Vonne – Mercury Lounge $10
Calexico - Virgin Megastore Union Square FREE
Daylight's for Birds, Michael Leviton, Yvel - Tonic $10
Hott Beat, Dada Swing, The Right Moves – Cake Shop $6
Jana Hunter – Northsix $10
The Live Ones, Dark Skies, Monumentals, Dirty Excuse, The Americans UK - Trash $6
Octokthonous – The Stone 8PM $10
Slick Rick (DJ Set) & El Michaels Affair – Canal Room
Susquehanna Industrial Tool and Die Co. – Rodeo Bar
TV on the Radio, Celebration, The Fakers – Bowery Ballroom $17
Vincent Chancey, Mary Halvorson, Eyvind Kang – The Stone 10PM $10


Go to NYNT's Live Archive here.



© New York Night Train , 2006