Global Bonnaroo: New York’s globalFEST Curates Tent at America’s Biggest, Best-Loved Summer Music Festival
Since it began nine years ago, globalFEST (globalfest.org) has become North America’s most influential showcase and festival of global music, centered around its annual multi-stage event in New York each January.
But now it’s taking the show—and its distinctive curatorial vision—on the road to Bonnaroo on Saturday June 9, 2012. The first globalFEST tent will also host Spectrum Road, a supergroup tribute to Tony Williams with Vernon Reid, John Medeski, Jack Bruce and Cindy Blackman-Santana.
The not-for-profit globalFEST, co-founded and produced by Bill Bragin, Isabel Soffer, and Shanta Thake, has now expanded to include curating at other festivals in the US and globally (including Bonnaroo, SXSW, and Festival D’ Ile de France), and oversees the globalFEST Touring Fund, which provides much needed tour support for local and international artists to reach new markets throughout the US.
“globalFEST’s role in developing audiences for a wide variety of international music styles and to encourage artistic risk taking in the performing arts field has made significant strides for venues, audiences and artists alike,” explains Soffer. “We hope our mission to encourage cross-cultural exchange, support diverse programming, and develop meaningful cultural diplomacy relationships will create new opportunities within the performing arts field and beyond.”
“Part of our goal has been what I half-jokingly refer to as ‘infiltration.’ We’ve been successful in moving world music to the center of the conversation in the performing arts world,” Bragin notes. “In recognition that the touring ecology for global music moves between non-profit performing arts centers, festivals and commercial venues, we’ve now started to work on infiltrating the more commercial music field as well, especially targeting younger audiences.”
“Through globalFEST’s ‘infiltration’ success, we are acknowledging that a younger audience now exists for world music,” Thake adds. “Bringing globalFEST to these festivals is working to fill an actual desire of festival audiences to see these world music bands in venues and festivals that they frequent.”
“I’ve attended globalFEST in January in New York every year for many years now, and I’m always blown away by the music that I discover there,” enthuses Ashley Capps, Bonnaroo co-founder. “The curators behind globalFEST are deeply aware of the most exciting music being created throughout the world, and they’ll bring a strong vision and more than a little magic to the World Music Tent at Bonnaroo this year.”
“Bonnaroo represents a huge leap forward – to reach some of the most active, and open-minded indie-music audiences at one of the most beloved and best curated festivals in the country,” says Bragin.
Debo Band: Debo Band is not about recreating some mythical gilded age of Ethiopian pop. Taking cues from vintage and contemporary artists unsung in the West, they unleash rolling grooves, serpentine melody lines, and joyful vocals. A sound that won them a record deal on indie stalwart label SubPop/Next Ambiance, produced by Gogol Bordello’s Tommy T, which will come nationally in June.
“Though their music is steeped in 1960s Ethiopian music, to me, they’re a rock band first. That means the beat is hard, the guitar is blistering, the horns are lyrical and you don’t have to understand what is being said to understand the emotions behind the voice. Their appeal is universal.”–NPR Music
Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang: Hard-hitting beats from the grand master of Sierra Leonean bubu, an age-old ritual music turned modern hybrid thanks to a Brooklyn-based gang of musicians.
“Nabay severely strips down this (traditional Bubu music) setup while preserving its teeming twitchiness, using keyboards and carburetor pipes to create a minimal but undeniably kinetic brand of music that he weds to socially conscious lyrics.”- Pitchfork
Khaira Arby: Arby’s music shifts seamlessly between the edgy and progressive and the traditional and deeply rooted. She turns to her mixed Berber and Songhai roots, blending ripping electric guitar with the forefather of the banjo and funky drum breaks with the traditional percussion of the scraper and the calabash.
“Shrouded in regal colors, she presides over a small army of brilliant African musicians, who create a hypnotic backdrop for her gloriously swooping vocals. On the live stage, she’s all showmanship and command.”–NPR Music
La-33: Colombia’s hottest salsa outfit is also its cleverest: on top of pitch-perfect originals, the band has won fans worldwide with its blazing, tongue-in-cheek shout out to the Pink Panther and Henry Mancini.
“The three lead singers of La-33, from Bogotá, Colombia, were also its dancers. Colombia has become a latter-day stronghold for the Cuban-rooted salsa that thrived 30 years ago in New York City….Its own music was sleekly kinetic.”—New York Times
Pedrito Martinez: The Thelonious Monk International Jazz competition-winning percussionist and former Yerba Buena member has won the hearts of rock stars like Eric Clapton and Roger Waters and honed his groups near-telepathic communication, in music that ranges from traditional batá-rumbato Cuban jazz, son, and timba.
“A crowd-pleasing Cuban percussionist and singer now based in New York, who hybridizes his songs with touches of jazz, soul and hip-hop.”—New York Times
Red Baraat: An impossibly funky, New York-born mix of brass band-does-Bollywood extravaganza, bringing both Indian bhangrabeats and red-hot brass to the dancefloor—and more recently to the White House.
“Imagine a New Orleans street band playing Indian Bollywood tunes with a go-go beat — you can’t? The group uses their improvisational sound to blend the dhol, a double-sided, barrel-shaped North Indian drum, with brass funk. It’s a crazy blast of fun.”—NPR