Archive for the 'On Culture' Category

Festival in Exile

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Manny Ansar

KadmusArt received a message from one of the world’s great festival leaders, Mali’s Manny Ansar. Manny, who is the director of the Festival au Désert - Essakane, has had to leave his country because of the political situation in Mali.

Last year, KadmusArts interviewed Manny about the global reach of the festival and its resonance with our deepest traditions of gathering, exchanging our stories, and journeying to discover something new in ourselves and in our world.

Now, Manny hopes his forced travels will create a new movement…

Dear Friends,

I’d like to thank you for your continued support in this time of Malian conflict.  My family and the festival team are fortunate to be safely exiled in Burkina Faso for the time being. 
 
Needless to say, it’s a time of complexity in the Sahara. Vast regions are newly subject to Shariah law and its barbarism, including child subscription, gender oppression, stonings, amputations, and bans on sport, music and radio. Fear has displaced approximately 426,000 people to neighboring countries and refugee camps. If unchecked, the conflict threatens to create an arc of instability extending to the west coast of Mauritania and east through Niger, Chad and Sudan to the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Aden. The statistics of those affected by instability and the accompanying food crisis across the Sahel are increasing by the day. More than 4 million children are now gripped by malnutrition, and over 18 million people are at risk. And why, we ask?
 
Mali is only the latest region to fall victim to a wave of sectarian violence and intolerance accompanying extremist ideologies. Timbuktu has stood for centuries as Africa’s center of Islamic culture and learning - a timeless crossroads of trade, griot and scholarly pilgrimage.  To allow our integrated democracy and its schools, courts and world heritage sites to be destroyed by internecine goals of fundamentalists, is to turn a blind eye to International Law and the most basic Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  
 
Are we to bury our heads in the sand while radical doctrine continues to poison civil society?  In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Religion itself is outraged when outrage is perpetrated in its name.”  The Tuareg are a “free people,” tolerant and pluralist. However, we also have a proud Malian Bambara battle call, “saya kafisa ni malo ye”; which means, “better death than shame”. These last months have been a time of deep reflection. I’m writing today, not with the heavy heart of a refugee, but with the strength and inspiration that many of you have personally experienced at the Festival au Desert. As atrocities from Mali continue to draw headlines, the festival and its embodiment of cross-cultural harmony have become a rallying call.
 
It has been written, “Nothing provokes Salafists more than a festival”, and this is why many from our festival family are now threatened in Timbuktu.  Festival is one of a few ubiquitous words the world-over, meaning, a celebration of the best of culture in that region. Culture educates. It strengthens the bonds of society, weaving community interests and collaboration between generations.  Culture is the antithesis of fundamentalism, and in effect, a concentrated antidote. To the radical factions attempting to polarize our people, we will unite with our most powerful cultural tradition: Music, in the form of a festival of international proportions.
 
The Festival au Desert is a centuries old Tuareg gathering uniting the Sahara in peace, trade and performance. In the last decade, musicians and fans have traveled the world over to share in its unique heritage. While ethnomusicologists identify the region as the ancestral home of the Blues, music is considered Mali’s most important export.  Music has also helped focus the eyes of the world back on us.  Arm in arm with our international network of acclaimed musicians and millions of fans, an extensive festival is being planned. It will be an historic fusion of musical traditions espousing co-existence, while embodying an educational narrative that teaches the facts and effects of intolerance. Our goal is to inspire a global movement that helps turn back the tide of extremist ideology, while raising resources for its victims caught in the Sahel refugee crisis.
 
Due to the danger of hosting our annual event in Timbuktu, and until we can return home in peace, stability and freedom of expression, we enter this new chapter entitled, Festival-in-Exile.

The Festival-in-Exile is a 2013 awareness campaign to be presented in conjunction with major music festivals around the world in solidarity with the exiling of the acclaimed Festival-au-Desert in Timbuktu, and its international message of peace and plurality. The tour will feature an unprecedented conjoining of West Africa’s finest musicians in collaboration with an international array of guest stars, in the name of raising awareness and support for the refugees of this vast region in the Sahel, whose culture and way of life have all but been destroyed by surging sectarian violence and humanitarian crises.
 
I sincerely hope that we can count on your support for the platform and affiliate partners. If we bang the drum of solidarity loudly enough for the world to hear, our message of culture overcoming extremism and instability will reverberate for generations to come.  
 
Sincerely,

Manny Ansar
Directeur Général du Festival au Désert — http://www.festival-au-desert.org/

On behalf of everyone at KadmusArts and in the global festival community, please do help get the word out on Manny’s plans — and dreams. And, of course, if you have any ideas or offers to help Manny and his team create the Festival-in-Exile, do let us know!

- Bill Reichblum

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Madonna: Queen of Inspiration

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Madonna

Original Photo by NRK P3 — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

Madonna’s not just the queen of pop; she’s the master of music trends.

Andrew Matson, a columnist for the Seattle Times, recently wrote a piece about Madonna’s current tour. As a set-up, he posted an amazing video exchange of Madonna and others from the New Music Seminar of 1984. The New Music Seminar has a history of bringing together leading minds in the art and business of making and promoting music.

Back in 1984, one of the discussions at the Seminar focused on the new kid on the block, MTV, and the transformation of video as an engine for growth and promotion.

Madonna might have been the youngest at the roundtable but that didn’t stop her from schooling her elders. Clearly, Madonna was not only aware of deepening her connection to her fans but also determined to inspire the next generation of artists. Neither of her aims, though, appeared good enough for John Oates of Hall & Oates. In addressing the proliferation of music videos, Oates smugly asks, “For the kids growing up, musicians have to now be actors?” He just wanted to be a musician.

Fair enough. However, isn’t it fair to expect an artist to think about their audience? And how to grow their audience? Is that why Madonna’s career has continued to grow, develop, and expand? After all, where is John Oates’ career?

Madonna countered Oates by pointing out that musicians aren’t just playing their music, they are performing their music. So the transition to putting that performance into a video could only enhance the experience for the audience.

We love the music of Hall & Oates. And, we loved their live performances. However, this small video snapshot captures a moment when one artist is clings to an old model and another sees an avenue for a new model.

The bottom line? When the focus is on connecting with an audience and broadening an audience, an artist is creating on the right avenue.

The kid who crossed music’s borderline is still leading the way.

- Bill Reichblum

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A Smile a Day!

Monday, September 17th, 2012

Smile

Original Photo by Sean Jackson — Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved

This week, KadmusArts launches a new feature: Smile of the Day.

Every day, we’ll feature a video or festival photo on the home page that highlights a great performance from the archives. All the selections are from festivals, live performances, and our favorite moments from filmed productions. As always, let us know if you want to propose a smile-of-the-day-video or shot.

Upcoming feature choices include “Some Well Deserved R&R”, “Our Kind of Rock Anthem”, “If Only We Could All Sing Like This!”, “Join a New Dance”, and “Oh, It’s Good to Be on a Road to Nowhere.”

We hope each video or image gives you a reason to smile. After all, if you smile everyday you’ll know what it means to live a festive life!

- Bill Reichblum

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Trying to Keep the Summer Alive

Monday, September 3rd, 2012

Beach Boys

As another festival season comes to a close, who can resist the temptation to try to keep the summer alive?

Cue - Beach Boys:

When it’s ice cream weather get the gang back together.
Roll down your windows and ride.
They’ll be sleeping in the sand dunes, dancing in the streets.
They’re just trying to keep the summer alive…

- Bill Reichblum

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Pussy Riot Playlist

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Pussy Riot

Pussy Riot has, thankfully, galvanized international support for freedom of expression and artists’ rights.

Each of the three members of the band (Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alekhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich) has been sentenced to two years in prison because they “committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred.” (Oh, how times have changed in Russia.)

They were arrested in March after a guerilla performance in the Orthodox Church’s main cathedral, Christ the Savior Cathedral, in Moscow. They sang a “Punk Prayer” asking for the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Putin. Their protest was inspired by the head of the church, Patriarch Krill, who had praised Putin as “God’s miracle” (Oh, how God has changed.)

You’ve read all about them, their verdicts, and their support. Now, take a little time to get to know their music and performances.

You’ll discover the reason why Punk will never go away. Maybe the world needs more Punk!

- Bill Reichblum

The Punk Prayer

Putin Has Pissed Himself

Putin’s Glamour Burns

Kropotkin Vodka
(dedicated to Pyotr Kroptokin, one of the founders of Russian anarchism in 19th century)

Putin Lights Up the Fires

Pussy Riot: An Interview

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