2014 - Highlights from Amarrass
A big thank you to you, dear listener, and our dear musicians for making 2014 yet another fabulous year of music. Warm wishes and peace from Amarrass Records and Amarrass Society for Performing Arts and we look forward to bringing you more great music in 2015! A quick recap of the year in music at Amarrass:
It's been '#ZordaarIn2014' for Barmer Boys - a debut US tour, showcases at Roskilde Festival/Denmark and Borneo World Music Expo, NH7 Weekender/Delhi, Mood Indigo/IIT Mumbai and more.. down to the last minute in fact.! The group performed two shows on New Years Eve at Kathputli in Delhi. Their NH7 performance in Delhi was described as a "show stealer" and their debut album has the critics saying "Incandescent Sufi voices that incite ecstacy" (4 stars) - Songlines Magazine.
BARMER BOYS (Rajasthan, India) at Roskilde Festival 2014
Sindhi sarangi maestro Lakha Khan has had a busy year with his second US tour in as many years, performances in India, and the release of his second album on the label - 'Live in Nashville'. Meanwhile, his album 'At Home' has been receiving rave reviews in fROOTS and Songlines Magaine. And the late Padma Shri Sakar Khan's 'At Home' was awarded 'Top of the World' album by Songlines, with tracks featured in British Airways inflight entertainment and on a German ethno-label compilation! The field recording compilations 'Mitha Bol' and 'Banko Ghodo' also received 5-star reviews in Songlines. Get your copies at iTunes, Amazon, at the Amarrass Shop, or your friendly neighborhood music store. Milwaukee-based Painted Caves are the latest addition to the Amarrass family, and to say the least we are thrilled. The group performed at this year's Amarrass Music Festival, and their debut album 'Painted Caves' has been on the college radio charts in Milwaukee for over two years! The album hits stores worldwide in Spring 2015 (or available now at the Amarrass Shop!). Also released in November 2014: 'Unexpected' by The blue Infinity, an instrumental field recording presenting meditative, contemplative, sonic explorations.
LAKHA KHAN Live in Nashville
THE bLUE INFINITY Unexpected
2014 also marked the debut of our Music Licensing service, featuring a catalogue of critically acclaimed, high-quality, curated, independently produced music for use in film, television, media, web and corporate events. We celebrated the 3rd edition of the Amarrass Music Festival in New Delhi in November and this year's line-up brought together artists from Mali in West Africa, the United States/Palestine, India, and Brazil to showcase new, cross-cultural collaborations on each night of festival. Our monthly series of events - Amarrass Nights at Lodi - featured music and artists from across genres and around the world including Korean jazz saxophonist Hyunpil Shin, Bangalore live electronica group The Burning Deck, Jeet Thayil's Still Dirty project, and more.
2015 promises to be an equally exciting year with collaborations, new releases on vinyl (yes vinyl!!!!) and digital exclusives, field recordings, and many new borders to cross. We look forward to bringing you great music in the coming year! Here are some snippets of how we ended the year..
SOME EXCERPTS FROM THE FESTIVAL...
LAKHA KHAN (Rajasthan, India) with MADOU SIDIKI DIABATE (Bamako, Mali)
PAINTED CAVES (Milwaukee, US) with MADOU SIDIKI DIABATE Kora, vocals (Bamako, Mali)
RAVANA (Delhi, India) revisits Mirza Ghalib
Amarrass Music Festival Lineup Announced!
AMARRASS MUSIC FESTIVAL 21-22 NOVEMBER 2014, NEW DELHI, INDIA
The third Amarrass Music Festival takes place 21-22 November, 2014 in New Delhi, India at Lodi-The Garden Restaurant. India's most eclectic worldamusic festival presents national treasures, unknown voices and explores the boundaries of collaboration. This year's line-up brings together artists from Mali/West Africa, the United States, Palestine, India, and Brazil to showcase new, cross-cultural collaborations on each night of festival. Programming will also include audio-visual presentations and workshops by the artists, a crafts bazaar, and instrument makers. An open-air stage, a sampling of world-class food and beverages, amenities such as valet parking and close proximity to the Metro line, and music, sweet music in the garden!
FRIDAY, 21 NOV, 2014 7pm onwards "100 STRINGS/SAU-RANG"
LAKHA KHAN Sindhi Sarangi, vocals (accompanied by son Dane Khan on dholak) (Rajasthan, India)
MADOU SIDIKI DIABATE Kora, vocals (Bamako, Mali)
MIKE KASHOU Oud (US/Palestine)
ALL STAR STRING JAM
SATURDAY, 22 NOV, 2014 5pm onwards "GROOVE ME"
PAINTED CAVES (Milwaukee/Memphis/New York City, US)
STILL DIRTY (India)
DJ TUDO (Brazil) w/ RAIS KHAN and MANGA (India)
BAGPIPES of PUNJAB (India)
IKARO VALDERRAMA (Colombia)
ALL STAR GROOVE JAM
SATURDAY, 22 NOV, 2014 2pm-5pm "WORKING IT"
MOHAN LAL LOHAR Morchang making in action (Jaisalmer, India)
RAIS KHAN of Barmer Boys - morchang and khartaal workshops (Harbha, Rajasthan, India)
DJ TUDO Presentation: Ethnomusicology/Field Recordings from Brazil
21-22 NOV at 5:00pm LODI-THE GARDEN RESTAURANT LODHI ROAD, NEW DELHI
STUDENT SPECIAL = Rs. 500/day "it's all gone, Pete Tong"
Painted Caves (US) Painted Caves was formed in Milwaukee in November 2009 by Jordanian/American guitarist and vocalist Ali Lubbad and Palestinian/American Oud virtuoso Mike Kashou. Painted Caves includes revolving musicians including Qanun virtuoso Ali Paris, vocalist/flautist Holly Wake, bassist Matthew Wilson and percussionist Andy Lopas. “Like the official house band for the North African Surfer’s guild, Painted Caves navigates the desert sands of of the Near-East, into the African plains, and out beyond the great Western Ocean." “Milwaukee band Painted Caves play Middle Eastern-influenced psychedelic grooves that more or less follow the Silk Road in reverse, back toward India. Their signature sound sets droll deadpan vocals over a hypnotic, clattering rhythm, a web of acoustic Middle Eastern instruments mingling with layers of guitar.” - New York Music Daily
Video: Painted Caves perform 'Paper Tigers'
Madou Sidiki Diabate (Mali) Madou started playing the kora at age three. By the time he was six years old, he was playing his first concert as a representative of the 71st generation of korists in his family. He learned his art under his father, Sidiki Diabaté, a man generally referred to as the “King of the Kora”. His elder brother, Toumani Diabaté is also a famed korist and Grammy Award winner. If Madou Sidiki Diabaté’s lineage is formidable, then so is his talent. In this 30-year-old’s hands, the kora is full of deception: it looks like a simple, even rustic instrument capable of basic sounds. But close your eyes and you hear many musicians in harmony.
Video: Madou Sidiki Diabate performs 'Kaira'
Lakha Khan (India) Lakha Khan, 67 is a sarangi player and vocalist, and perhaps the greatest exponent of the sindhi sarangi. He was born in the village of Raneri in Jodhpur district, Rajasthan, India into a family of traditional musicians from the Manganiyar community. He was trained at an early age by his father Tharu Khan and later, by his uncle Mohammad Khan, in rendering the compositions of the Multan school of Manganiyars. He presents music from his latest release "Lakha Khan: Live in Nashville" including Sufi kalaams by Bulleh Shah, Ghulam Farid, Shah Latif, Kabir bhajans and a special collaboration with kora maestro Madou Sidiki Diabaté.
Video: Lakha Khan live in Nashville
Mike Kashou (US/Palestine) Mike Kashou is an oud player, bassist, and multi-instrumentalist and one of the most prominent musicians from Palestine to have performed on stages worldwide. He has toured with the Violent Femmes, and was a member of the Grammy-nominated band Garbage. Mike Kashou has taught for the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and Ozaukee Conservatory of Music. His most recent project with the Milwaukee band Painted Caves explores traditional Middle Eastern rhythms using a variety of instruments from the oud to the darbuka, daf and trumpet.
DJ Tudo (Brazil) Alfredo Bello, aka DJ Tudo, is one of the leading researchers of Brazilian musical tradition. In concert, he uses live samplers, voices collected throughout Brazil, with the powerful sound of a live band. Uniting technology and authenticity, Tudo sometimes leaves his 10,000 LPs at home and goes off in search of his homeland's many, many indigenous musics. Having made thousands of hours of recordings, uncovering secret histories and sounds that may otherwise have become extinct, Tudo stitches the results together in a fabulous live show, joining a stageful of musicians to pump new life into venerable traditions. Or how to make a sophisticated, deep Brazil party.
Still Dirty (India) Still Dirty is Jeet Thayil's ongoing music project which originated in Berlin in 2013. The New Delhi edition took shape with the inclusion of Anup Kutty (menwhopause) and various musicians from the city's independent music scene. Collaborative, texture heavy and psychotropic, Still Dirty is poetry with sound.
Ikaro Valderrama (Colombia) is a nomad musician, a poet and dancer from the Colombian Andes. Ikaro plays variety of musical instruments: Colombian cuatro, Siberian igil, corean danso, and others. He presents a unique musical style - a mix of music from South America (from the Amazon Rain Forest to the Andean Mountains) with traditional Siberian music (throat singing and ancient traditional musical instruments).
Goriya Fauji Band (India) or the bagpipes of Sangrur, Punjab is a 'contingent' of eight musicians from rural Punjab, and feature a quad of bagpipe players and four drummers.
VISUALS: Vinnie Bhagat | Vinyl grooves by Amarrass DJ Spincycle
STAY TUNED for more LINEUP Announcements and set timings.. See you at the Festival!
“Milwaukee band Painted Caves play Middle Eastern-influenced psychedelic grooves that more or less follow the Silk Road in reverse, back toward India. ..It’s safe to say that there is no group anywhere in the world who sound anything like them.” - New York Music Daily
"…an alchemical marriage of ’60s rock and age-old Arabic folk, producing an offspring entirely contemporary and ageless." - The Shepard Express
Based in Milwaukee Wisconsin, Painted Caves have earned a reputation for their highly original, Arab-American music built on a foundation of Western experimentation and Middle-Eastern tradition with mesmerizing live performances. The group uses traditional Arabic folk instruments as a base and focal point against a backdrop of hypnotic rhythm and uplifting, deeply inspired songwriting, creating a musical experience that feels both foreign and familiar, ancient and modern, reflective and celebratory all at once. Amarrass Records is proud to sign Painted Caves to the label and release their self-titled album 'Painted Caves'.
Their skill at weaving together this combination of Arabic and American sound while making joyful, danceable music stands as a testament to the natural and understated power of Painted Caves as musical trailblazers and cultural ambassadors.
“Like the official house band for the North African Surfer’s guild, Painted Caves navigates the desert sands of of the Near-East, into the African plains, and out beyond the great Western Ocean."
Painted Caves: Painted Caves (AMAR011) CD | mp3
"Like the official house band for the North African Surfer's Guild, Painted Caves navigates the desert sands out of the Near-East, into the African plains, and out beyond the great Western Ocean...Primitive Music For Modern Machines."
| INDIA ORDERS
“Palestinian Notes Emerge from Painted Caves" - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Arthouse Rock" - Indian Express (Dec 2014)
"Painted Caves may be one of the best bands in Brew City.. “Beautiful” is one word to describe Painted Caves, which fuses traditional Arabic music with rock, psychedelic and folk, making it one of the few truly unique bands" - Milwaukee Magazine (Mar 2013)
“Richly Hypnotic, Unique Middle Eastern Psychedelic Grooves from Painted Caves" - New York Music Daily"
"Painted Caves emerges as a great work of art!" - Inside World Music
"Summer Sound" - BayView Compass.com (Jul 2013)
Their self-titled, self-produced, locally-released album held the number one position for overall airplay for over 16 weeks at college radio station WMSE 91.7, the song “Paper Tigers” has stayed in constant regular rotation at AAA radio station 88.9 Radio Milwaukee for over 2 years, including winning the station’s New Music Wednesday competition against well-established National acts. The Album has also appeared on top 10 lists by Chicago 91.5 WBEZ’s Tony Sarabia, Massachusetts 89.7 WTMD’s Scott Mullins, The Shepard Express Milwaukee, and The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Painted Caves first public gigs were in late 2012 and since have performed at indoor venues like the Milwaukee Art Museum (Nov '12, Mar '13, 2014), The Kohler Arts Center (Oct '14), The Sharon Lynne Wilson Center and at large outdoor festival events like Madison's Marquette Waterfront Festival (June '13), The Lakefront Festival of the Arts (June '14), Bay View’s “Chill on the Hill” summer concert series (July '14), and Milwaukee’s Summer Solstice Festival (June '14). In November 2014, Painted Caves made their international debut headlining the Amarrass Music Festival where they also collaborated with Indian master musicians Lakha Khan, Barmer Boys, and with Malian kora player Madou Sidiki Diabate.
Man is Coy Behind Animal Tears from their debut album Painted Caves
Blood in the Water (Live) from their debut album Painted Caves (with Madou Sidiki Diabate)
Soundcheck with Painted Caves (from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sessions)
Jam at Milwaukee's Sugar Maple (from October 2013)
Mohan Lal Lohar, blacksmith and woodworker
Mohan Lal Lohar is folk music’s equivalent of a polyglot---but with an added dimension. Not only can he play every wind, string, bow and percussion instrument native to his Rajasthan, he also makes them. His surname, ‘lohar’ (one who works with iron) denotes his caste and occupation: he is a blacksmith, from a family that has traditionally plied the trade.
But Mohan Lal is different. He combines a talent for music with his craftsmanship. At his workshop in Jaisalmer, the rhythmic beating of a piece of metal gives way within hours to the refined percussion of a freshly made morchang — just cool enough to play. The workshop itself belies what is produced in it. In one of the town’s many open-sewered lanes, it is just a portion of a small courtyard, under a shed that leaks; as much a play area for his goats as it is a place of work.
Lakha Khan, Sarangi maker
Lakha Khan is an acclaimed Sarangi craftsman and musician from the village of Raneri in Jodhpur district of Rajasthan. It takes him ten days labouring away on a single block of wood to just carve out this complex musical instrument - a testament to the decades of craftsmanship, persistence and passion for music.Purchase a hand-crafted Sindhi Sarangi
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Speciality: Sarangi. Lakha Khan has four sarangis, each from a previous generation in his family. This instrument is in his blood. Contact us to find out how you can get a Sarangi handcrafted by the master.
Shankara Ram Suthar, Kamancha maker
There is a reason why the kamanchas on view at Manganiyar performances have a charming antiquity about them. They often come stained, patched up, with bits of inlay work missing—all signs that they are in regular use. But they are, almost without exception, also very old.
This is where Shankara Ram Suthar’s story as master kamancha-maker begins. In the early eighties, academics—and musicians—found that no one was making kamanchas any more. They imported a batch of about 16 from Pakistan, where artisans evidently had a bit if stock, and these made their way to collectors and musicians. But with no local craftsmen, there was a problem.
Like the one Sakar Khan had. Sakarji, the greatest living exponent of the instrument (Amarrass will release an album of sessions with him soon), discovered that the mango wood belly of his kamancha had developed a crack. But with no artisans making the instrument, there was no one competent to carry out repairs either. Shankara Ram Suthar, the carpenter by trade and caste, lived near Sakarji in the little village of Hamira, Jaisalmer. The instrument was taken to Suthar, who, knowing it belonged to a master, carried out the repairs meticulously. Sakarji’s kamancha was good to play again.
The fact that the carpenter’s work had passed muster with the redoubtable Sakar Khan drew other musicians to Suthar. He carried out repairs for them, but there seemed to be few fresh orders. This, despite the efforts of government officials sensitive to the fact that the art of making kamanchas was dying: Suthar produced some excellent prototypes for them, but that was about it. If you were just making kamanchas, you were not making a living.
Suthar fell back on carpentry. He would travel to Pune to make furniture for a contractor, as half-made instruments languished in his little workshop in Hamira. He still does what he has to to earn a living, but we are happy to report that he has received fresh orders through the Amarrass Society for Performing Arts. A discerning British collector of stringed instruments (and pensioner), received his kamancha last month and said he was delighted. A second piece will shortly be on its way to the United States. And a third one makes its way to Germany this summer. We are, we hope, seeing the beginnings of a renewal of interest in this unique instrument. (below: our first kamancha sold!)
The kamanchas that are produced in Hamira are special not just because of the high level of craftsmanship that goes into making them. They are also the product of a secular collaboration. The Suthar crafts the wooden portions of the instrument - the sound box, the bow, the neck and so on, but his Hindu religious beliefs forbid him from working with animal hide or gut. Once the skeleton is finished, the Muslim Manganiyars take over, attaching the hide, adding the gut strings and, of course, tuning the instrument to ensure it is perfect. When Sakar Khan is within earshot, nothing less will do.
Shankara Ram Suthar's speciality: Kamancha. This is the instrument that is at the heart of the Manganiyars's music. And the Suthar is the finest maker of it. All he needs is a block of wood of his choosing. To order this unique instrument, write to us or order online:
Amarrass Records India Pvt Ltd
301 Skipper Corner, 88 Nehru Place
New Delhi 110019 INDIA
US Office: Amarrass Records
2124 E. Main St., Madison, WI, 53704
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