By Dave Jones
During the Connected Living Discussion Group on the theme of "World Music," the crowd at The Kenwood in Chicago
came alive tonight -- once they realized that they could dip into the
World Music websites and listen to these exotic new strains of music any
time they liked -- all they had to do was get on a computer, click into
the Internet on CLN and type in www.worldmusic.net on the Google bar.
Andrea Bocelli singing in the Roman Coliseum was a popular listen,
as usual, which was followed by a hushed listen to Malam Mamane Barka
playing the West African Biram Harp (truly an "exotic" sound for most
everyone in the room -- no-one present had heard this kind of
mesmerizing, poly-rhythmic music before; only one man barked out "We
aren't dead yet -- turn that stuff off!"). Then we were asking around
the room to hear what kinds of different cultural sounds people already
knew and enjoyed.
Storyteller Fran Eaton called out for a song by The Maxwell Street
Klezmer Band, which got a few people up in the back of the room
dancing. Scandinavian traveler Jeannette Allen wanted to hear a piece
of music played on the strange Swedish hybrid of viola and autoharp
known as the Nyckelharpa. When we started searching more deeply in www.worldmusic.net,
people wanted to hear some haunting Fado songs from Portugal and the
Cape Verde Islands. Resident Laverne Corona had traveled to Morocco
years ago and wanted to punch in some Moroccan music on our "World
Jukebox," so we obliged with several airy, chant-like songs that sounded
like modernized renditions of a muezzin's prayers.
Earlier in the evening, in our Web Tour of How-To sites, we had
visited places that celebrated communities putting together Theater and
Musical ensembles, especially enjoying a clip of Mickey Rooney and Judy
Garland playing and singing in a big group of "teen-aged" swing
musicians in Strike Up the Band. As popular music goes, the
general opinion was that contemporary TV shows like "Glee" don't have
anything on the kind of starry-eyed, putting-on-a-show stories that
Hollywood was producing 70 years ago. This was "real music" seemed to
be the prevailing feeling in the room.
Still, by the end of the night, people were asking lots of questions
and taking lots of notes about web addresses where they could find some
more of that fascinating World Music we played. Best of all, the ones
who were writing down the web addresses were going to be able to find
that great wealth of "new" music all by themselves.