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London and Paris (and maybe a bit on DC)

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:20 am
by c hristian
I've frequently heard that London and esp. PAris are the World Music Capitals. Why? B/c all the expat musicians from all the various countries seem to wind up spending time in/living/recording in either 1 or both of these cities. And more to the point, that you all have all these festivals (maybe, not in the city) and perfomances. The World Music media always make London and Paris seem like you all are living in a musical nirvanah.

I'd love to know how much of that is true and how much is not, from your perspective. Granted, the grass is always greener... but compared to say, Wash DC, where we have 1 or 2 reliable , consistant "World Music" venues, then, you have the embassies that have concerts that you may or may not find out about, and clubs of different musics, catering to people of different nationalalities or cultures. Probably in truth, DC has a lot to offer, but you just wouldn't know it, b/c there is no unified advertising. With people here from all over the world, they all sort of stick to their tribe and circle of friends, and email from their embassy, and word of mouth from friends, so for someone who is out of the loop, as I am , I won't know that so and so from such and such a country is coming to visit friends, and may be playing at the local eatery.

So, yes, it's the white man's dilemma. Being out of the loop like this. But my image of London and Paris, is that there is more for Mr. Out of the Inner Loop White Man to know about through the paper or something, and then attend. More restaurants that have cross cultural multi-ethnic entertainment.

Gotta put the tea water on, as everyone just woke up. ...

PostPosted: Wed Jun 20, 2007 5:13 pm
by c hristian
so, this didn't seem to go very far.

Let me ask this,

does London/Paris world music scene happen in spite of the media and the recording industry and the nightlife there, or are they supported by these industries, in general?

Re: London and Paris (and maybe a bit on DC)

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2007 12:03 pm
by Charlie
c hristian wrote:I've frequently heard that London and esp. PAris are the World Music Capitals. The World Music media always make London and Paris seem like you all are living in a musical nirvanah.

I'd love to know how much of that is true and how much is not, from your perspective.

As a passive member of the world music community, consuming but not creating, I'd agree that London belongs among the leading world music capitals of the world. The prestige venues such as the Barbican and South Bank present world music performers on a regular basis throughout the year, with several themed Festivals (La Linea, London Jazz Festival, London African Music, Awards for World Music, etc) and many one-off gigs.

But there's never been a great world music record actually made here - we've never had the calibre of musicians or singers to match the amazing range that Paris can boast. There has been no London producer to compare with Ibrahim Sylla, whose albums must exceed 100 in the 20-plus years he's been financing new productions.

And yet the live scene in Paris has rarely seemed as good as ours. They have one or two prestige venues, notably Olympia, where several legendary live albums have been recorded. But I don't think they have places to match London's smaller clubs like Cargo, the Spitz and Darbucka, putting on live music audiences of 100 to 350 people on a regular basis.

But all this is written in ignorance of how Paris might have changed during the past ten years.

Good question, Christian. I wonder if there is any other city that can compare with these two. Amsterdam was ahead of both of them when I first became interested in this kind of music in the early 1980s, but has slipped back since. Toronto often features in the itineraries of world tours, but I don't know if there's something good on every week there; ditto Vancouver. And what about Tokyo?

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2007 12:46 pm
by c hristian
Thanks Charlie. So since I'm in a summary mood right now, i'd say that from what you write, I'm getting that London has the "hungry audience"/demand and the more or less coordinated marketing effort (or number of marketing efforts) and Paris has the hospitable emigrating and living conditions.

You know, I would love to then spend the next few hours exploring why this is, who are the individuals responsible for making it so, the society in general, and how Wash DC can learn from it (for one, we could get a certain someone out of office, I know, but that will be the next election.)...but I have to mow the lawn before the sun gets hot.

But I'd love nothign less than for this to be an ongoing topic and investigation.

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2007 4:56 pm
by garth cartwright
Like Charlie i consume rather than produce but i don't know if i share his enthusiasm - a lot of music comes through here because it is home to powerful media and some labels involved with world music. But I'm not sure if we get a good balance - as more and more venues close it's difficult to put on artists who can't fill big venues.

Also, what we get we get is often dictated by the labels and a few promoters. Thus we get very little Gypsy music (Balkan or Spanish or French) here compared to the rest of the EU. Partly this is due to how expensive the UK is. Also, the media here tends to focus on big names with a push behind them rather than exploring offbeat but interesting angles.

Actually, i'd guess that a lot of the best concerts here are outside of the entire world music spectrum - when i go to see Bulgarian artists it's cos i know Bulgarians here; the gigs are never promoted in the mainstream media - not even listings mag's. Same true for many of London's ethnic communities. Probably same for DC with all the Ethiopians and such living there.

Lisbon is a great city for fado, morna and other Portuguese-African acts. While the Balkan Gypsy acts all tour there. Bet they get some good Spanish stuff droppin in too. It wouldn't surprise me if smaller, poorer cities than London/Paris had in some ways healthier, more organic music scenes. London is very limited for venues so you often get gigs at very formal seated venues which tend to suck the atmosphere out of the event.

I recall from the 80s DC having a great hardcore and Go-Go scene. The Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Trouble Funk etc - how is it today?

London used to have a big reggae/dub/dancehall scene - it still exists but on a lesser extent, catering almost solely to West Indian community. Again, ignored by mainstream media. But this is roots music so - to my mind - counts. I used to enjoy these events - they were mad, often dangerous, but the edginess of the event lent itself to the music. The grime scene is the underground music of London today. But i'm too old to go to such. Now where's my comfortable seat in a concert hall?!?

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2007 8:18 pm
by c hristian
yes! we seem to have a big ______ population (fill in the blank with various ethnic groups and nationalities here). I'm always told this. I never know what to believe, but you know, when you are World Babylon, as I like to call this town (b/c it is), then it seems that there will always be some amount of political refugees will try to take up some kind of residence around you. Which isn't to say that they are all refugees. Everyone's got a different story, wellll anyway...

yes, big ethiopian, west indian, Liberian, Ghanian's, Korean, Vietnamese, el salvadorian, filipino, ETC ETC ETC population. Like I said, when I hear people mention this, I never hear numbers, and I just hear about every single group. So, it's just "uh huh". No way to put it all into perspective. Love to see some numbers on it though. Anyway, let's just say BIG international community.

So naturally, the culture and music of all these peoples are generally ignored by the mainstream press. So yes, I would imagine that the really good concerts are happening somewhere, out there. It's just that I never get to know about them. (back to my original complaint.)

GoGo is still strong here. Chuck Brown being the elder statesman of it all. NOt as strong as it once was, say 10 - 15 years ago, b/c of the shutting down of a lot of Gogo clubs after some notoriusly violent incidents. Alnd punk is still here too, as you mentioned. We get soundsystems and the dancehall stars here too, compliments of the West Indian community.