Monday, June 15, 2009

TVD Es Adorable

I’ve recently begun to consider the possibility that my DNA contains ethnic and racial inputs beyond the Eastern European and Nordic ancestry that my appearance suggests. One such possibility that has always manifested itself in my musical preferences is the possibility that some fraction of Latin blood courses through my veins.

My love of Latin music arose from another love of mine - Music documentaries. About 3 years ago, a friend turned me on to Buena Vista Social Club, the Academy Award nominated documentary which follows iconic American guitarist Ry Cooder to Havana, Cuba to record an album with a procession of Cuban artists including legends like Ibrahim Ferrer and Compay Segundo. I was enchanted by the wonder of the traditional Latin music, how it was played on every street corner and in every household, the Cubans unafraid to lay their raw emotions at the feet of any chance passer-by.

It doesn't matter if you like rock and roll, soul and Motown, country, hip hop, R&B, or any other kind of American music, I guarantee all of your favorite artists have Latin peers, and I also guarantee that you can find something those peers actually do better than your favorite American artists. I am not yet blessed with Spanish fluency, some of the beauty of this romance language is lost on me. But, all the things that make friendships with Latins wonderful and exciting also infuse their music with an unparallelled energy. The stereotypical Latin is emotional, fiery, even crazy. And their music follows suit. It uses instrumentation to convey more feeling that even the most perfectly written verse could ever hope to. My favorite example of this is the Spanish guitar style, the hasty strumming interspersed with beautifully lilting finger-picking is most emotive. Similarly they expertly use horns, drums, and other strings to supplement the direct conveyances of the lyrics.

I urge you to give Latin music a chance, whether or not you speak the language. I promise you will find something to love in these beautiful compositions, even if it is the simple pleasure of giving your own meaning to the unintelligible stanzas such that they mimic your own personal thoughts. A friend of mine uses this technique when listening to Shakira, imagining her lyrics are expressions of a most base and primal desire which she holds for him!

Buena Vista Social Club - Chan Chan (Mp3)
Buena Vista Social Club - Candela (Mp3)
Enanitos Verdes - Amores Lejanos (Mp3)
Gipsy Kings - Escucha Me (Mp3)
Shakira - Inevitable (Mp3)

A TVD Ticket Giveaway | Better Than Ezra, Tuesday (6/16) at The 9:30

Better Than Ezra and I go quite a way back which might seem very odd for a guy with decidedly UK-centric tastes. One time a number of years ago, they were the very best thing to come out of a difficult relationship. (Indeed, I got custody of the BTE CDs.)

They were even there for me one humid, soggy night during Jazz Fest in 2000 when I learned a good friend had taken her own life. The band uncharacteristically took the stage that evening with an odd, twisty, and elongated ‘Live Again’ while I wept into my pint glass. (Which is a good memory if you can believe it.)

Yet, most Better Than Ezra shows actually have me laughing to tears. They’re funny guys frankly, armed with a zillion right up the center tunes which linger in your head long after the first listen. Or the second. Or the 30th. And while I’d characterize my musical tastes as very, very atypical and narrow, BTE’s the guilty pleasure I feel no guilt enjoying. Whatsoevah.

And you? Louisiana’s finest play DC this coming Tuesday night (6/16) and we’ve got a pair of tickets to join TVD at the show. Hell, I may even buy a round or seven.

So, see that little ‘comments’ button down there. Yea, that one. OK – now click it. See that window that pops up? Yea – that one right there to the left. Let us know how much you’d like to join us Tuesday night in that lil’ comments box and the one that shines the brightest gets the pair of tickets. (Please remember to include some contact info!) We’ll choose our winner Monday afternoon.

Better Than Ezra - Absolutely Still (Mp3)