I love to travel around the world, but sometimes I don’t even need to leave New York City to get my fill of exotic culture. In the past two days, I have seen three amazing bands hailing from three distinctly different pockets of our planet. Dengue Fever is based in L.A. but features a Cambodian singer and rocks a sonic tribute to the Cambodian pop sound of the 1960’s. It is deliciously funky and her voice is transcendent; the Cambodian lyrics are indecipherable but her ethereal voice adds a perfect alien element to the grooves. Sharing the same bill at Webster Hall was Syrian techno maestro Omar Souleyman, who pumped out Middle-Eastern beats for a very devoted and appreciative crowd. The show was beautifully strange and delightfully exotic; an instant journey to a fantastic far-away land.
The Celebrate Brooklyn concert series in Prospect Park is one of the greatest aspects of summer in the city, and yesterday they kicked off the season with Jamaican reggae legend Jimmy Cliff. The park was packed with all ages loving his classic tunes and message of peace, love and freedom. This Saturday night in the park is AfroCubism, a group of musicians from Mali and Cuba, who collaborated on an outstanding album bridging the two cultures and next Saturday is Balkan Beat Box, an Eastern European influenced hip hop group.
Music unites us, effortlessly crossing linguistic and political barriers, while giving us a reason to congregate, dance and make noise together; it is the essence of joyful expression and deeply beautiful communication.