Back on the Chain Gang
Time flies and sometimes so do I. Yesterday I arrived in Malta for a brief visit. I'm here mainly to give some lectures at the University of Malta. I'll post more about that later, especially since I've had some requests to post my lecture notes, or something like that, after my last blog entry. Before I left Scarborough I managed to record the 12th podcast in the Mużika Mod Ieħor series. So, as always, here's some information about the contents of this week's selection.
Following last week's podcast in memory of Charles Arrigo, the music returns in full force with a new recording by The I Skandal. Como Estas is the first taste of their upcoming EP, entitled Scaccho Matto, which is set for an early May release. Hearing this type of music sung in Maltese is very refreshing. The blending in of Spanish verses into this song are also interesting, especially since there aren't any stereotypical latin elements on this song. If it were up to me I'd make this song a smash hit over the coming months into the summer of 2006.
Still steaming for the commercialization of the Malta Jazz Festival, guitarist Sandro Zerafa has blogged three MP3s from the new quintet with which he is currently recording. I've known Sandro for many years, we even worked together music for Shakespeare's Othello about 10 years ago. I must say that these new recordings reveal the sound of someone who is undoubtedly Malta's most dynamic jazz guitarist. Sandro keeps a blog (in Maltese) so you can easily keep in touch with some of his thoughts directly through that channel, even if you're not fortunate enough to catch him at one of his frequent gigs in Paris. I doubt he'll be playing at the Malta Jazz Festival again anytime soon.
When I say that the Internet is an excellent way to discover music I'm revealing the secret sauce that goes into the Mużika Mod Ieħor series. Besides my own expeditions into the world wide web, I also regularly receive pointers from listeners and musicians to hear this or that mp3, which would otherwise have escaped my attention completely. Lullaby for Lawyers is one such song from Steve Newman and Friends. Steve is a graduate of the University of Hull who currently lives in New York City. Although he has no connection with Malta, and there's nothing Maltese about his music, I still chose to play his song since he asked politely. Now, this may open the flood gates for other similar requests. To anyone considering asking me to play their stuff of my podcast I wholeheartedly say, just contact me, and don't be put off by the fact that I reserve the right to refuse to play anything I don't think is suitable for my podcast.
I have a feeling that one or two of the lawyers in the Maltese blogosphere will have a thing or two to say about Lullaby for Lawyers, which is beautifully sung by Patti Rothberg. The comments section on this blog is more than open for any such comments (along with all others) and I'd be very flattered if they chose to write about this song on their own blogs. I imagine that Steve Newman would like that too. I'd be very surprised if he hasn't already wrestled wits with one or two beasts from the legal profession over this song.
Musical diversity is something I sprinkle generously on Mużika Mod Ieħor. I particularly like songs I can't imagine any radio station in Malta including on high rotation in their playlist. Most songs by Rage Against Society fall in this category. They have better songs than Count Gonzi, which closes this week's podcast. Yet I chose to play this song since I think it's good to hear more from this band than what you get just by visiting Ġużé Stagno's website. Stagno recently interviewed R.A.S.'s Ray il-Baħri and it was actually after reading this interview that I decided to play Count Gonzi on my podcast.
Now that I'm in Malta, I'm excited about the possibility of sampling some of the local music scene directly. I went to a reunion gig by Smog (a 70's cover band featuring my old friends Edward Mercieca on bass and Remo Mifsud on guitar, who sang their hearts out along with Coryse and Pia as backing singers) at the Labyrinth on Valletta's Strait Street last night. Even though I can't imagine I'll ever play anything from their set list on my podcasts I had a great time; especially because MaltaGirl and I have finally met in off-line. It was quite a lovely experience meeting her and her fiance at an event I heard about through Reesa's Blog.
I know I'll have a good time tomorrow evening too, if I attend the Poeżijaplus għana session at the Manoel Theatre Courtyard. I'm also looking forward to meeting Xtruppaw on Tuesday. I hope to witness a recording session for their upcoming debut album. And Wednesday evening I'll hear percussionist Renzo Spiteri (who I was thrilled to meet again during the Smog gig last night) play at the launch of Adrian Grima's new book of poetry Rakkmu at St. James Cavalier. In some ways this visit to Malta is turning into a musical pilgrimage. Nice!
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