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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Guitar Man

It's been a good week. It felt good as soon as it started. Highlights included the DVD release of Pan's Labyrinth and a very fruitful visit to the University of Hull's Scarborough Campus by Ian Forrester and Matthew Cashmore of BBC Backstage. Both the film and BBC Backstage deserve a blog entry of their own, and I hope I can write about them in the coming days.

Meanwhile I'm here to announce the contents of the 59th podcast in the Mużika Mod Ieħor series. This week's episode features instrumental music by four Maltese guitarists. I had never heard of the first three before this year but the fourth is someone whose work I've known for about twenty years. Robert Longo, Joe "il-Pejxa" Vella, and Charlie "Paletti" Muscat immediately come to mind as other guitarists whose music I've played on previous editions of Mużika Mod Ieħor. There are several others, of course, such as Sandro Zerafa, Jean Paul Galea, Demis Fenech, and Antonio Olivari.

This time I've turned my attention to Marc Galea and Jean Pierre Zammit, who are both guitar teachers. According to his website, Marc is working on an album and Jean Pierre is about to release a 3-track CD very soon. The tracks I've chosen to play from their repertoire are called My Journey and Wipe Every Tear respectively. They both demonstrate solid control of their rock guitar techniques without too much showing off, which sometimes accompanies similar work by lesser guitarists.

Unlike Galea and Zammit, Franco Tartaglia has chosen MySpace to distribute his recordings. His experimental work is quite interesting, even if it's one notch less sophisticated that that of the other two guitarists. Tartaglia has the potential to become one of Malta's more unusual guitar players pushing towards developing a unique style. Meanwhile, as you can hear in the track In Memoria he is honing his skills on establish formats with a minor twist.

While listening to Franco Tartaglia's music I thought it would be most appropriate to close this week's podcast with something from a Maltese musician who has been playing guitar since before any of the other performers featured in today's show were born. Manuel Casha left Kalkara for Australia many years ago. Back in the 1960s and 1070s he played in various pop bands before turning his attention to traditional Maltese folk music. To my way of thinking, he belongs to the first generation of Maltese rock guitarists, even if he is now more comfortable with Il-Budaj than with The Beatles. His album Neon was originally released on cassette in 1992 and remixed for CD in 2001. From it you can hear Fil-Bitħa tal-Granmastri (In the Grandmasters' Courtyard) as the final track on this week's podcast.

Now I'm off to watch Britain select its entry for this year's Eurovision Song Contest on BBC One. I don't think I'll be blogging about that because the songs shortlisted for the final selection are quite ordinary, with one exception. Sadly there's no sign of Morrissey, but if Big Brovaz win, this year's UK entry will be noteworthy, otherwise it'll most probably be just another forgettable year for this country. Incidentally, I'm quite amused by Terry Wogan's less than subtle suggestions that the British public should vote for Malta come the Eurovision Song Contest in May.

The RSS feed for the Mużika Mod Ieħor podcast is available here or you can simply click here to subscribe directly with iTunes. You can also add the latest episodes to your My Yahoo! page.

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