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J. Richard Haefer

Largest, lead drum in a set of hand-beaten drums and other percussion used in Afro-Cuban Akubua dance music. The drum set can also include the binkome or biankome (highest drum), eroapa (high drum), kuchiyerema or kotchierima (medium-size drum), and obiapa or opiapa (low drum; the lead drum in the Abakua three-member ...

Article

Barry Jean Ancelet

(b Lafayette, LA, Feb 14, 1951). American fiddler, guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. Doucet has become arguably the most widely recognized Cajun musician ever. His formative influences within Cajun and Creole music include acknowledged masters such as Dewey Balfa, Canray Fontenot, and especially Dennis McGee, as well as lesser-known but no less important masters such as Varise Conner, Lionel Leleux, and Hector Duhon. Other influences include the folk rock, country, and swamp pop influences of his youth. Doucet first approached Cajun music in the 1970s in a group called Bayou des Mystères. He then founded a rock-country-Cajun fusion band called Coteau, the first such band to attract the attention of the younger university crowds. After Coteau dissolved, Doucet turned to his long-running band Beausoleil, which was informed by an eclectic collection of influences that reflect the complex history of Cajun music, including traditional, classical, rock, and jazz elements. Beausoleil has played all over the world and recorded more than 30 albums for many labels, including Swallow, Arhoolie, Rounder, Rhino, and Alligator. These albums have garnered 11 Grammy nominations and two wins. Doucet has also recorded albums with other musicians, including Marc and Ann Savoy, Ed Poullard, and his brother David Doucet. He has performed with symphony orchestras and with the Fiddlers Four. Along the way, he has made ingenious use of old material, for example, turning unaccompanied ballads that John and Alan Lomax collected in Louisiana in ...

Article

Barry Jean Ancelet

Cajun musicians. On 27 April 1928 Joseph Falcon (b nr Robert’s Cove, LA, 28 Sept 1900; d Crowley, LA, 19 Nov 1965; accordionist, vocalist, and songwriter) and his wife Cléoma (b Crowley, LA, 27 May 1906; d Crowley, LA, 9 April 1941; guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter) became the first musicians to record a commercially released Cajun music record. They recorded for Columbia with Cléoma on guitar and Joseph on accordion and vocals. Their first album featured “Lafayette” and “La valse qui ma portin de ma fose” [La valse qui m’a porté dans ma fosse]. They subsequently recorded more songs for Columbia as well as for Decca until Cléoma’s death in 1941. Many of these recordings became part of the core repertoire of Cajun music as it evolved in the 1920s and 30s. Partly due to the impact of their early recordings, and also as a result of their musical talents, Joseph and Cléoma Falcon were among the most popular and influential Cajun musicians of that formative period. They shared vocal duties, with Joseph singing mostly traditional Cajun material, and Cléoma singing both traditional songs and Cajun French translations of American popular tunes, such as “Lulu’s Back in Town.” Cléoma, who was the sister of active Cajun musicians Amédé, Ophy, and Clifford Breaux, was especially renowned for her soaring, soulful vocal style. Joseph, on the other hand, had a keenness for improvising new arrangements for older traditional songs. After Cléoma’s death Joseph continued to perform, eventually with his second wife Thérèse playing drums. He produced one additional recording, a live performance at the Triangle Club in Scott in ...

Article

Jada Watson

(b Seguin, TX, July 6, 1953). American country/folksinger-songwriter. She grew up in a musical home, began playing guitar at a young age, and started writing songs at the age of six. When she was 14 she began performing in honky-tonks. After college Griffith taught kindergarten by day and performed in honky-tonks at night. It was not until 1977 that she decided to pursue a career in music. She self-promoted her first two albums at folk festivals and formed her own backing band, the Blue Moon Orchestra. In 1987 she landed a recording contract with MCA Nashville and made her major-label debut with the critically acclaimed album Lone Star State of Mind, charting a single with the title track. The album also featured Julie Gold’s song “From a Distance,” which has become Griffith’s signature tune. After several unsuccessful albums Griffith transferred to MCA’s pop division in 1989 and recorded her first pop-oriented album, ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

[juspeña, guitarra quinta]

Five-stringed guitar of Mexico, probably originating in the Tecalitlán area of Jalisco. It was one of the earliest mariachi instruments. It is also colloquially known as quinta or jarana (not to be confused with the jarana huasteca or jarana jarocha). Typically it has a soundbox 33 cm long, 31 cm wide (maximum), and 11 cm deep; a 32 cm neck (4 cm of the fingerboard overlapping flat on the soundboard) with 12 metal frets; and 56 cm string length. The soundhole is decorated with nácar (mother-of-pearl) and wood inlay in a starburst pattern, and the purfling has intricate limoncillo wood inlay. The five wooden pegs are inserted from the rear of the pegboard, which has distinctively curved sides and two open f-holes between the pegs. The woods used to build golpes are the same as those for guitarrones.

Tunings used nowadays including the following: d–g–b–e–a (used by Gaspar Vargas); ...

Article

J. Richard Haefer

Large guitar of Mexico. It is played as the bass instrument in mariachi and other Mexican ensembles. The guitarrón mexicano (literally ‘large Mexican guitar’) is shaped like a guitar but with deep sides and a V-arched back. Typically it has a soundbox 63 cm long with a 48 cm maximum width and maximum depth of 21 cm at the sides plus an additional 9 cm to the apex of the back. The fretless neck terminates in a pegboard with pegs inserted from the rear. A 10 cm soundhole on the ...

Article

Charles K. Wolfe

revised by Michael Ann Williams

(b Point Leavell, KY, July 13, 1895; d Springfield, OH, Sept 23, 1989). American country and folk music performer. Raised in Garrard County, Kentucky, Kincaid absorbed the religious music and ballad traditions of his family. He learned to play on a guitar his father reputedly acquired from trading a dog, and his “hound dawg” guitar became his trademark throughout his career. Kincaid dropped out of school after fifth grade and later resumed his education at Berea College Academy, completing high school at age 26. At Berea, Kincaid began to systematically collect ballads and other forms of traditional music. After graduation, he married his music teacher, a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory. Kincaid relocated to Chicago to attend the YMCA College and there auditioned with a college quartet at WLS, a local radio station. Kincaid, “the Kentucky Mountain Boy,” soon became a hit with his clear tenor and his rendition of traditional ballads such as “Barbara Allen.” By the early 1930s, Kincaid was one of the most popular radio performers nationally, and he augmented his radio salary with songbook sales and live performances. He also he recorded prolifically for Gennett, Brunswick, ARC, Decca, RCA, and others. He worked at radio stations in Pittsburgh, New York, Boston, Cincinnati, and Wheeling with his partner ...

Article

Melanie Maldonado

Plena and bomba group. Los Pleneros de la 21 (LP21) have the distinction of being the longest-running group to specialize in performing Puerto Rican Plena and Bomba in the continental United States. Since 1983, this New York City-based, intergenerational group has taken these traditional genres from their local New York community to the international stage. The group has produced five albums that both celebrate traditional AfroPuerto Rican music and fuse it with other genres of their urban soundscape. LP21 was founded in the South Bronx by National Heritage Fellow Juan Gutierrez-Rodriguez and contemporaries who included Edgardo Miranda and Eugenia Ramos. Other luminaries who contributed to the evolution of the Grammy-nominated group include famed plena musician (plenero) Marcial Reyes and the distinctive bomba musician (bombero) Roberto Cepeda, a member of one of Puerto Rico’s premier musical families. The members of LP21 are more than musicians and dancers; they are educators and cultural activists who invest their time into their local community by providing workshops for children and adults in the historic community of El Barrio in Manhattan. Today LP21 boasts a membership and group of alumni that includes some of the most well respected pleneros and bomberos in the United States and Puerto Rico....

Article

David Royko

[David Anthony ]

(b Danville, VA, June 8, 1951). American guitarist and singer. Influential in bluegrass, newgrass, and jazz-inflected new acoustic music, Rice was strongly influenced by Kentucky Colonels/Byrds guitarist Clarence White. Raised in Los Angeles, he moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 1970 and joined Bluegrass Alliance at invitation of mandolinist Sam Bush after meeting in a jam session. In 1971 he joined J.D. Crowe and the New South, appearing on their acclaimed eponymous Rounder LP, often referred to by its catalog number “0044.” In 1975 he returned to California and joined the David Grisman Quintet, an instrumental ensemble; he appeared on their eponymous album (Kaleidoscope, 1977). In 1979 he left Grisman to focus on his solo career, ultimately releasing more than a dozen albums (primarily on Rounder). As leader of the Tony Rice Unit, he emphasized instrumental new acoustic music, dubbed “spacegrass” by Rice, while albums released under his name typically included vocals and relatively straight bluegrass and singer-songwriter material. His exploration of the music of other songwriters, most notably Gordon Lightfoot, established Rice as a major vocalist in bluegrass and acoustic folk music before health problems curtailed his singing. From ...

Article

Paul J. Yoon

(b 1943, Tokyo, Japan). taiko master of Japanese birth. He is widely regarded as the father of North American Taiko. He first traveled to the United States in 1967 and noted the absence of taiko drumming at Japanese American festivals in San Francisco and elsewhere. Determined to change that situation, Tanaka returned to Japan to study with, among others, Daihachi Oguchi, founder of Osuwa Daiko. Tanaka returned to the United States and in 1968 opened the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, the first school of its kind in America. It is Tanaka’s oft-stated goal to make taiko as well known as sushi or karate.

Since his initial training, Tanaka has studied with Susumu Kowase (Sukeroku Taiko), Shosaku Ikeda (Gojinjo Taiko), and Kiyohiko Fukuhara (Yokobue flute) and has also trained in kabuki dance and martial arts. The breadth of this training in drumming, dance, flute, and martial arts has made him a major influence for nearly every North American taiko player. In addition, Tanaka has always been open to teaching anyone, with no restrictions on age or gender, so long as they can withstand the rigorous physical conditioning he demands of his students....