Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Heart the Archives

 by Claire Weissenfluh, Program Assistant

Check out this gem of an image I found in the archives! This image was taken in 1938, when Park Street was lined with Elm trees and the Union Theater was just being built. You can see the contours of the stage house going up.

Fun fact: the Wisconsin Union was the first student union in the nation to identify the need for, and include, a theater in its building. The Wisconsin Union Theater has been valued by Madison audiences and by artists alike ever since, and the revitalized and improved Wisconsin Union Theater and Fredric March Play Circle will re-open in time for the 2014 Fall semester and the 75th Anniversary of the Theater in October 2014.

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From Mali to Madison - Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba

By Bola Olaniyan
World Stage Series & World Music Festival Coordinator

On Friday, January 24th at 8 pm, Bassekou Kouyate and his band, Ngoni Ba, will be gracing the stage of The Sett.

Bassekou Kouyate is originally from Mali, in west Africa. Born in 1966, he picked up the ngoni instrument for the first time at age 12, taking after his father, an acclaimed musician at the time. Since then, he has not been able to put it down, and even named his band after the instrument! His band is comprised of his wife, Amy Sacko (a brilliant singer in her own right) and his two sons.

The ngoni instrument is a stringed instrument that originated in west Africa, made out of calabash (a type of squash) with the dried skin, usually of a goat, over it. It is believed that the modern day banjo is based off of this instrument after slaves were exported to North America.

Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba bring the traditional sounds of Mali with a modern twist to their audiences. What a great way to get a feel for the way traditional music can surpass time and be appealing to people of all backgrounds and generations. As a Nigerian, I am always excited to see west African music appreciated in more ways than just Afropop.

As an internationally renowned musician, Bassekou has played with African greats like Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate, as well as Western ones like Bono and Bonnie Raitt. He has also collaborated with Bela Fleck who himself plays the "modernized" ngoni (banjo). Bassekou has also performed on stage with artists like John Paul Jones and Sir Paul McCartney.

This is not a show to be missed! I promise you will love it. Take a listen yourself...

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Jingle Bell Rock: the Lindell Family Rocks the Holidays

by Elysse Lindell
Marketing Intern

Jam session in the living room
As the days get shorter and the final papers get longer, I can't help but drift into thinking about the holidays.  While the commercialized 50's music ambles on in coffee shops and shopping malls, I look forward to music closer to home.

My family is very musical, so whenever we all return, the songs follow in short order.  My father taught himself guitar in college and played in a band, and my mother played piano and clarinet throughout high school, so we were always surrounded by some sort of music growing up.  They let my brothers and me mess around on the guitar and piano out in the living room, which is more of a music room nowadays.
At Revere's in Delafield.

As we grew up, my brothers and I all took different routes, despite all playing by ear like Papa.  I dabbled in orchestra but was more fond of fiddling, singing,  and playing any instrument I could get my hands on.  One brother became a classically-trained saxophone, clarinet and flute player, and a baritone jazz singer.  My other brother can take it away on the drums, bohran and make-shift percussion, plays a mean guitar and harmonica, and sang in choir.  And last but not least, slappin' da bass guitar is my boyfriend, who belts out the rugby songs and Of Monsters and Men alike.  Together we all play in our family band, Deep Pool.  (One time we even played at der Rathskeller!)
Performing at the Bremen Cafe in Milwaukee.
Look familiar?
Whether we have just walked through the front door or are gathering with the cousins (who also rock out), we bond over Lindell family originals, corny covers and some rugby jokes for good measure.

Happy holidays, and hope your ears will be open to hearing more than just Judy Garland!

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