They Will Have to Kill Us First

I was tardy to the party on getting the word out on this one. It opened in Los Angeles on April 1, 2016, however it is continuing to pop up around the United States. Keep your eyes open for this one!

Timed to coincide with Music Freedom Day 2016, BBC Worldwide North America released Johanna Schwartz’s timely and powerful feature documentary “They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile”.

Music is the beating heart of Malian culture, but when Islamic jihadists took control of northern Mali in 2012, they enforced one of the harshest interpretations of sharia law by banning all forms of music. Radio stations were destroyed, instruments burned, and Mali’s musicians faced torture, even death. Overnight, the country’s revered musicians were forced into hiding or exile, where most remain — even now. But rather than laying down their instruments, these courageous artists fought back, standing up for their freedoms and using music as a weapon against the ongoing violence that has ravaged their homeland.

“They Will Have To Kill Us First” is director Schwartz’s debut feature, and follows Songhoy Blues and musicians Kharia Arby, Fadimata “Disco” Walet Oumar, and Moussa Sidi as they each deal with the unfathomable situation in different ways. Telling the story of the uprising of Touareg separatists, revealing footage of the jihadists, and capturing life at refugee camps where both money and hope are scarce, Schwartz and her indefatigable, mainly female, crew chart the perilous journeys to war-ravaged cities, as some of Mali’s most talented musicians set up and perform at the first public concert in Timbuktu since the music ban.

Co-written by Schwartz and Andy Morgan, renowned journalist and former manager of Grammy® Award winning band Tinariwen, “They Will Have To Kill Us First” is produced by Sarah Mosses of Together Films and executive produced by Andre Singer (The Act of Killing) alongside Stephen Hendel, Victoria Steventon, OKAY Africa and Knitting Factory Entertainment.

“They Will Have To Kill Us First: Malian Music in Exile”, features an original score by Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), and a commissioned soundtrack featuring Songhoy Blues, Kharia Arby, Fadimata “Disco” Walet Oumar, Moussa Sidi and many more.

To learn more and see where it’s playing, visit: http://www.theywillhavetokillusfirst.com/

THEY WILL HAVE TO KILL US FIRST – SHORT TRAILER / US THEATRICAL from TWHTKUF – Doc on Vimeo.

Grace

While contemplating what to say about Paul Avgerinos new album “Grace” I decided to look up the actual definition of the word grace on Dictionary.com.

noun
1. elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion, or action
2. a pleasing or attractive quality or endowment
3. favor or goodwill.
4. a manifestation of favor, especially by a superior:
5. mercy; clemency; pardon:
6. favor shown in granting a delay or temporary immunity.
7. an allowance of time after a debt or bill has become payable granted to the debtor before suit can be brought against him or her or a penalty applied:

verb (used with object), graced, gracing.
14. to lend or add grace to; adorn:
15. to favor or honor:
to grace an occasion with one’s presence.

And yes, I found myself thinking, yes, I could feel most of these being evoked when listening to the album. With titles such as “Serenity”, “Guru’s Grace”, “Angelic Presence” and “Always Blessed” it’s not hard to imagine. “Grace” is a soothing, relaxing journey. What I enjoy the most is that each time I listen I’ll notice something I hadn’t heard before; a smooth drone buried in the background, or a playful twinkle flitting throughout a tune.

It should be noted that not only will listeners hear the talents of Avgerinos, but the album also features Grammy winners David Darling, Laura Sullivan and Ricky Kej!

Here is the song “Grace Is” from the album:

“Grace” from Paul Avgerinos is perfect for quiet reflection, yoga, meditation, work (I listen to it while writing), and I suspect much more. Consider giving it a try.

‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah

I learned of an interesting exhibit going on at the National Museum of Jewish American History that I thought was fun and interesting. Something that those of you in Philadelphia may want to check out this holiday season.

The history of Hanukkah and Christmas songs and the Jewish musicians, artists, and songwriters who wrote and performed them is the focus of the National Museum of American Jewish History’s newest installation, ‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah, opening November 4, 2014. The installation combines a cozy living room setting with modern technology to deliver a compelling story about the blending of the American and Jewish musical season, the soundtracks of religious holidays, and the musical standards we know today.

Featuring well-known artists such as Irving Berlin, Benny Goodman, Bob Dylan, the Ramones, and Lou Reed, as well as Christmas gems by the likes of Jewish salsa giant Larry Harlow, and Jewish stage and screen icons Eddie Cantor and Al Jolson, this multimedia installation will set to music American Jewish efforts to invent, re-invent, and celebrate a season marked by family, gift-giving, food traditions, and well-loved music—across multiple faiths.

“The Christmas music industry, as a quintessentially American enterprise, provided a way for Jewish songwriters, many of them immigrants or children of immigrants, to feel American. By showing how an outsider community can enter mainstream American culture, Christmas songs highlight a classic American Jewish narrative,” says Ivy Weingram, associate curator of NMAJH and co-curator of ‘Twas.

In a gallery styled as a cozy living room, visitors will be able to enjoy interactive song and video platforms, as well as images of holiday-related artifacts from the Museum’s collection of 30,000 objects, delivered on curated iPads accompanied by text and graphics of holiday celebrations. In addition to the audio visual component of the installation, visitors will have hands-on access to record albums, a wide selection of books on American popular music and Jewish history, and kids’ toys and books.

A ‘Twas-themed self-guided tour highlighting holiday-related objects in the permanent collection will also be available.

The installation is inspired by the critically-acclaimed 2012 music compilation produced by the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, which draws on jazz, folk, rap, Latin, and Klezmer musical styles. “At the Idelsohn Society, our goal has always been re-examining the Jewish-American musical past in new contemporary contexts,” says Idelsohn co-founder, Josh Kun. “Collaborating with NMAJH offers a rare opportunity to do this in a premier Museum setting where these songs and their commentaries on Jewish life, identity, and ritual will take on new meanings with new publics.”

‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah will build on the cutting-edge interactive media for which the Museum has been widely recognized. This family-friendly, seasonal installation will run through March 1 and is designed to be enjoyed by visitors of all backgrounds.

For those of you who are interested, I have the “‘Twas the Night Before Hanukkah” musical compilation CD in the “I Recommend” widget on the site here. It’s also available for download through Amazon.

Neon Future Sessions

To celebrate the release of his latest album, “Neon Future I”, electronic music artist and producer DJ Steve Aoki teamed up with Wired to launch a new digital series, “Neon Future Sessions”. In the series he’ll be sitting down with a variety of cultural and technological visionaries to discuss how they see our future world evolving.

This first episode is intriguing, but who would expect anything less from a chat with Ray Kurzweil, an inventor and director of engineering at Google. Sadly the episode is only 5 minutes long.

And for those of you who may be curious about what DJ Steve Aoki is like at his day job, I give you “Rage the Night Away” by DJ Steve Aoki and featuring the rapper Waka Flocka Flame from the “Neon Future I” album.

Fly Away with Dr. Hummingbird

I received a promotional copy of April White’s album “dr. hummingbird” and I’ve got to tell you guys, it is a beautiful journey I’d encourage you all to take.

It’s electronic, but incredibly intimate in sound. Open waves reveal tiny, tinkling notes prancing on tip toes atop the waves. “dr. hummingbird” is easily a go to album for meditation, yoga, or general relaxation. However I want to add I’ve found it wonderful for my focus as I’ve played it in the background as I’ve worked at my laptop. White mentioned that listeners have used the album to prevent road rage, study for finals (See? I said it was good for focus!), and file their taxes.

You can find “dr. hummingbird” on BandCamp or Amazon.com!

Fun with Icona Pop

I learned about the musical act Icona Pop on Huffington Post, which pretty much seals the deal, I am an old person. Despite perhaps the fudie dudie introduction, I quickly fell in love with their highly danceable tunes, filled with heartbreak lyrics, and sung in raucous accents. I bought their EP, and then I bought their album “This Is….Icona Pop”.

Anyway, the folks over at Teen Vogue do a video series “Breakfast with Bevan”. Generally Teen Vogue doesn’t cross over into my interests, or into what I think my readers may enjoy. However this time it’s “Breakfast with Bevan: Icona Pop”. And what follow is 5 minutes and 30 seconds of absolutely charming interview.

I love those ladies and now totally want to go out drinking with them some night. You know they would be a ton of fun!

Speaking of fun, here is their must fun song ever, “I Love It!”

For the record, I’m definitely a 90’s bitch. You?

Shanti Orchestra: Epic New Age Album

I love collaborations. I tend to romanticize, glorify, and other things that end in the “I” sound them. So you can imagine how excited I got when I heard about Ricky Kej’s album “Shanti Orchestra”. Composer Kej collaborated with over 20 different musicians from around the globe. The results are, well, for example, here’s “Pieces of Heaven” with lyricist and vocalist Alexis D’Souza from Qatar.

Not too shabby, right? Beautiful, yes? Dare I say enchanting? I think I dare.

Here’s “Exotic Dreams”:

Exotic, right? Mellow but you can groove to it, yes?

I really enjoy “Forever” featuring lyrics and vocals by Junior Bay from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Just sublime, correct?

The liner notes describe “Shanti Orchestra” as an “epic ‘New Age’ album”. I’m by no mean an expert on the “new age” musical genre, but Ricky Kej’s undertaking with “Shanti Orchestra” was certainly epic and the results were certainly wonderful and evocative. That seems pretty much like an epic New Age album to me!

10 Questions with Irina Shapiro

1. You’re originally from Russia, but you’ve been in the United States for a while now. Was it difficult adjusting to Miami after Moscow?

When I’m in Miami or Los Angeles, as a Russian I can feel like a stranger there. It is different, but I love Miami! It’s like a never ending party. My true inspirations are sunrises and sunsets there. I also love the clubs in Miami, it’s like energy lives there forever and people really enjoy it to the fullest. I did some performances in Miami and I loved it so much!

2. I hear there is quite a Russian dance music scene, have you had the chance to go back and be a part of it?

I’m currently located in Los Angeles working on my music, but I travel a lot to Moscow and am actually here right now :). Hopefully I will be performing here soon too.

3. How did you end up partnering with such a respected name as Dave Audé on “One Last Kiss”?

I love having positive, creative people around! Dave is an amazing person, great husband and father – I love and respect those qualities in a person!

“One Last Kiss” – Official Video

4. Were you excited to learn that both R3hab and Sick Individuals wanted to remix “One Last Kiss”?

These guys are so talented and I love their sound! They are energetic and very unique characters with unique personalities – I love that the most! I was freaking screaming!! haha!!!!!

“One Last Kiss” – R3hab Remix

“One Last Kiss” – Sick Individuals Remix

5. Is it weird hearing your song remixed?

I don’t think it’s weird because I love to work with other song writers too. It makes me feel like we are making history – so cool!

6. There is a lot choreography in the video for “One Last Kiss”, how hard was the video shoot?

It was a lot of work! But I have been dancing my entire life and love expressing myself through body language.

7. What kind of music do you enjoy dancing to?

I love rock music, Bon Jovi is my favorite rock musician. I came to the USA to do a rock project. Something like a Blonde Jovi in a sexy skirt :).

I also adore Kylie Minogue. She is real unbelievable – feminine woman, sexy diva. Icon!

8. The other day I was in a really rotten mood getting ready for work. While in the shower I started humming a tune and it cheered me up. That tune was “One Last Kiss”. No question, I just really wanted to tell you that.

9. What are you working on next that my readers can look forward to?

My next single to be released will be “Believe.” It’s a very spiritual song about our destiny, our stories—our past and future, our all or nothing! It’s about love and power of love, which can heal everything in this world! Empathy and perception!

You can also look out for a full length album soon!

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question.

What is your favorite type of music? Do you have a favorite DJ?

I like all kinds of music depending on my mood. For dance/electronic, lately I’ve been listening to Swedish House Mafia’s “Until Now” album, Diplo, the album “18 Months” from Calvin Harris, everything from Robyn, and Madonna’s “Hard Candy” album”.

About Irina Shapiro:
Irina was born in the Russian capital of Moscow, with performing arts always at the center of her life. She began singing at the age of three, and was constantly involved in theater while in school. At the age of six, Irina sang in the school choir as a mezzo-soprano and started to learn English.

At 18, Irina attended a university in Russia, acquiring her first degree in economics and second in psychology. Though she was busy with her studies, she managed to find time for what she describes as a “hobby.” For many years, she had written poems, but now Irina began to write songs. She continued writing, something she devoted more time to when she was in her mid-20s, but soon learned that her family had decided to move to the US to start a new business. Not wanting to be separated from her relatives, Irina moved with.

On a trip to Los Angeles, Irina’s fate changed for good. Irina met Mikey Minden, creative director for the Pussycat Dolls, which launched the start of her pop project. Together, Irina and Mikey worked on a hot club dance style and Irina’s first single, the original song “Something About You,” was released in the US. The song quickly debuted on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Play chart and remained on the list for a number of weeks, peaking at No. 40.

Now, Irina’s second single “One Last Kiss” has made its debut, and she is gearing up for the launch of her third original track, “Believe.”

Celebrate Samhain 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013, was the 8th annual Celebrate Samhain event in Peterborough, NH. This was my 4th year attending. That’s right folks, I’ve been there for half of this event’s lifespan. Why does this make me feel oddly old?

There were a few things that caused the energy to be “off” this year. We were all missing Cucina Aurora and its head kitchen witch in-chief Dawn Hunt, who was absent due to a death in the family. Her effervescent personality and delicious food were sorely missed. Also, Mike Dolan of Haunted Wood wasn’t around this year with his hearty laugh and giant bear hugs.

However, there were a few things that added some new fun. Jess G., co-founder and co-coordinator, who also happens to be a kick butt roller derby lady, spent the WHOLE day on roller skates. Let me tell you, she has some crazy skills! We were also blessed with beautiful weather, which was perfect for this year’s catering option of Goodness Gracious food truck. They were set up right outside the one entrance/exit to the venue.

Jess could move mountains in those skates!

Shopping, as usual, was excellent. I started telling people that Celebrate Samhain was the biggest shopping day of my year. Stuff purchased as holiday gifts I must keep mum about, but I picked up plenty of stuff to brag about/share with you. I picked up a little something at Muse Gifts & Books (that I must keep to myself) (but it’s pretty awesome) (you so wish you knew) (and could see) (it rocks is what I’m saying) (if I were to say anything). I restocked at FairySpa. I was literally down to a teeny, tiny square of my Goat’s Milk Facial Cleansing Bar and I finally got another bottle of Intense Lotion. Yay! I can feel almost human again!

Obviously I visited the Temple of Witchcraft table. This is where Christopher Penczak, Steve Kenson (wake up gamer friends!), and Adam Sartwell live! I picked up a copy of “Feast of the Morrighan: A Grimoire for the Dark Lady of the Emerald Isle”, which was the topic of his talk at last year’s Celebrate Samhain. I also learned that next year’s Templefest will be August 2-3, 2014. Save the date! I keep wanting to make it back. The Temple of Witchcraft folks put together a well organized event and were very welcoming. They haven’t announced any speakers yet, but I bet Christopher Penczak will be one!

I HAD to visit my friends at Inkubus since they had a booth again this year. I picked up a new table cloth for Dia de los Muertos. Another gift was also purchased. (It is so freakin’ cool. Cooler than the table cloth. So bad ass. You really wish you could see it. Seriously.) They were also nice enough to let me and Jim pick a few sugar skulls from their basket o’ skulls! Lastly, we visited Alchemy’s booth. What can I say? It’s as if someone had created an entire jewelry store just for me! You know how some famous people will wear one jewelry designers work almost exclusively? If I ever become rich and famous, I will wear Alchemy’s Tisha Harris’s curated work almost exclusively. (I have to leave room for Deborah Blake!) I bought myself a pink skull and cross bones cameo ring. That’s right boys, I’ve got myself a rum drinking ring! Watch out if you see me wearing it because that shows I means business.

Alchemy, where I shall do ALL my jewelry shopping!

Again I was amazed at the caliber of speakers that this event in Peterborough, NH attracts. Opening was Matooka Moonbear, who spoke about “Connecting and Working with Animal Spirit Guides”. I totally missed her introduction, but I recognize her as a member of the Temple of Witchcraft. I missed her talk catching up with people and going to get a palm reading from the wonderful Juliet Bell. Following her was musician Michael Long Rider. I didn’t get to watch him perform because….SHOPPING….but I got to enjoy his performance while browsing wares.

After that, my ass was planted and didn’t move. First was Christopher Penczak, “Avalon: The Isle of Nine Morgans”. Spoiler alert, this was my favorite talk of the event. It was a little all over the place but that was good because I wanted to actually hear more about Guinevere, Lancelot, and Arthur! Christopher, don’t just take on the Morgans in your writings, cover the whole Arthur mythology.

Christopher Penczak getting his groove on.

Then Raven Grimassi spoke about “The Mystery of Reincarnation and the Inner Teachings of the Sacred Tree”. As always, Grimassi was an excellent speaker and I’m always touched by the gratitude he shows at the end of his talks. I felt like such a Celebrate Samhain hipster. When someone asked me if I enjoyed his talk I said, “His talk was quite good; touched on a lot of themes from a talk he gave at a Celebrate Samhain 3 years ago.” It’s true! Those actual words came out of my mouth. If you haven’t been to 4 years of Celebrate Samhain, you just can’t hang.

Raven Grimassi working his mojo.

The last speaker for the day was Dorothy Morrison who’s topic was “Magic Down and Dirty”. I had never seen Morrison speak before and she is a total hoot. A fun Southern accent, beautiful fingernails, glittering jewelry, and a great black scoop neck shirt. She’s definitely a character that’s not to be missed.

A not entirely great photo of the lovely Dorothy Morrison.

With all the talks out of the way it was time to rock! That’s when Frenchy and the Punk took the stage. This is when long time Magical Buffet readers can all be hipsters by saying, “I knew them when they were The Gypsy Nomads.” As always, they were fantastic! So full of energy. The Celebrate Samhain crowd loves Frenchy and the Punk! They demanded more songs and when Samantha (aka Frenchy) asked for titles the crowd eagerly provided fan favorites.

Samantha and Scott kicking ass and taking names.

Coordinators Jess G. and Kevin Satoris with all their volunteers put together a great event. Their hard work has made Celebrate Samhain an amazing even that I look forward to every year and I suspect I’m not the only one. (Readers that offered input on The Magical Buffet’s Facebook page, I’m wearing the Hello Kitty shirt you guys picked!)

(left to right) Jess, Me, Kevin Satoris

The 90s Were Totally Sweet

When I was given the chance to review “The Totally Sweet ‘90s: From Clear Cola to Furby and Grunge to ‘Whatever,’ the Toys, Tastes, and Trends That Defined a Decade” I thought, sure the 90s were fun but do we really need a book devoted to them? I mean, it’s so recent. Then it hit me. The 90s were actually quite a while ago. You know, I graduated from high school in the mid-nineties. You know what else? I’m getting seriously old. What the hell universe?

Where was I? Oh yeah, “The Totally Sweet ‘90s”. Holy crap there was a lot of stuff that happened in the nineties and authors Gael Fashingbauer Cooper and Brian Bellmont manage to squeeze it all in to one book! Each entry includes a status to let you know what’s going on with it now and also a fun fact. But I know what you’re thinking, Rebecca, what’s in that fun little book that you’ll share?

Hmmmm, shall it be Pogs? Or perhaps “Clarissa Explains it All”? Maybe Zima? Possibly “The Adventures of Pete and Pete”? However, I’ve chosen perhaps my favorite thing……that’s right readers, “Pop Up Video”.

The 1990s were all about multitasking, and music videos were no exception. Why just veg out in front of an ordinary video when you could watch a video paired with “Beavis and Butt-Head” commentary or one adorned with “Pop Up Video’s” cartoony word bubbles?

The best pop-ups told you something hilarious like one on a Rick Astley video pointing out a dancer who never learned the steps, or confiding that the director and producer had a two-hour fight about whether Astley should roll up his sleeves. Awesomely, the writers of the pop-ups seemed to have the same bemused contempt for the music industry as the rest of us, never failing to point out where the producers cheaped out on a set or the singer was replaced with a stand in.

Watching “Pop Up Video” was like kicking back with your friend with your friend who worked as the third director’s assistant and letting him dish about the scene where Meat Loaf fell off his chair or snark that Dexys Midnight Runners fired their drummer midway through the shoot. The pop-ups were like musical footnotes, but footnotes that were more often entertaining than the real text.

Status: “Pop Up Video” popped off the air for a time in 2002 but was revived by VH1 in 2011.

Fun Fact: “Pop Up Brady” gave the pop up treatment to old “Brady Bunch” episodes. One pop-up on the famed Kings’ Island episode claims Robert Reed saved the cast’s life by spotting a poorly mounted camera that would have flown off a roller coaster and possibly killed the actors.

Pop Up Sugar Ray

With concise, but entertaining write ups, that include updates on where they are now and tidbits of trivia; “The Totally Sweet 90s” is a great party book. An amusing stroll down memory lane, reminding us of the good (“Clerks”), the bad (“Mighty Morphin Power Rangers), and the ugly (Gak).