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Happy Discovery Day -- Real Geographic Discoveries of the Modern Age

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 13, 2014 04:42pm | Post a Comment

I will not make the argument that Columbus's arrival in the New World was insignificant merely because he was an absolutely awful person or because he didn't actually discover anything (which he himself maintained, claiming until his death that he'd merely found a different route to Asia). But think about this before you dismiss -- before Columbus, avocado, bell peppers, blueberries, cashews, cassava root, chili peppers, chocolate, cocaine, gourds, maize, peanuts, pecans pineapples, pumpkins, squash, tobacco, tomatoes, and vanilla were all unknown in the Old World and alcohol, apples, bananas, barley, cheese, coffee, mango, onions, rice, tea, and turnips, and wheat were unknown in the Americas. Imagine an existence without any of those and you can hopefully begin to get a taste of the importance of the Columbian Exchange. Imagine Italian cuisine without tomato sauce or gnocchi and you can't help but wonder if this is why Columbus is so dear to many Italians. Imagine, on the other hand, genocide, slavery, and old world diseases and you'll understand why he's even more hated by many others. 





 
We all know now that Columbus wasn't the first European to visit the Americas either -- but neither was Leif Erikson. Europeans had been living in the North American territory of Greenland since sometime between 876 and 932 CE when Gunnbjorn Ulfsson was blown off course and sited the world's largest island. Around 978, Snæbjorn Galti was the probably first European to set food on Greenland but we rightly don't make a big deal out of that since there were already Inuits living there and before them, an earlier people who'd arrived and abandoned the country -- and that cultural exchange was by most measures, less impactful on the planet.


The Divine Comedy - "A Seafood Song"

Greenland, of course, is just as much a part of North America as are the Bahamas (where Columbus landed) as are the US and Canada -- or Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Clipperton Island, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Navassa Island, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Saba, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, and United States Virgin Islands, for that matter.



Crime & the City Solution - "The Bride Ship"
 

The fact is that people have been exploring for roughly 1.8 million since Homo erectus first caught that ramblin' fever years ago and identifying the first European to do something is a silly pursuit. Exploration and adventuring, on the other hand, is vital and something done by all good people (and plenty of bad). Most of the inhabitable world was discovered in antiquity but in the post-Classical age, new lands were still being discovered by humans around the planet -- especially Arab, Austronesian, and European seafarers. In the 15th Century, the more isolated islands of the Atlantic were still being added to maps with some regularity and discovery of islands in the Arctic and Southern Oceans continued into the 20th Century. Here then is a look at some of the real discoveries of the modern age -- previously uninhabited lands just waiting for humans to despoil them.





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MADEIRA

Madeira (image source: World for Travel)


Madeira was first claimed by Portuguese sailors in the service of Infante D. Henrique in 1419, who were driven by storm to an island harbor which they called Porto Santo. Settlement of the island began in 1420 and by 1433 it was known as Ilha da Madeira.



THE AZORES

Azorean chamaritta 

The Azores were known of in the 14th Century but humans didn't begin to colonize them until 1433. Before arriving, sheep were deposited to establish a food source for the colonists, who included Sephardic Jews, Moorish prisoners and African slaves, as well as Flemish, French, and Spanish colonists. Nowadays there are about a quarter of a million residents of the country.



CAPE VERDE

Morna performed in the documentary Dix petits grains de terre

The volcanic islands of the Cape Verde archipelago were discovered by Italian and Portuguese navigators around 1456. The first settlement, founded in 1462, was the first European settlement in the tropics. Located off the coast of West Africa, Cape Verde's economy was predictably built on the back of the slave trade but the African population was joined by Jewish refugees from the Inquisition, as well as Dutch, French, British, Arabs, Chinese, Indians, Indonesians, and other settlers.

Remembering Paco de Lucia

Posted by Rick Frystak, February 26, 2014 12:45pm | Post a Comment

Today, the world lost a giant of music, as Maestro Paco de Lucia passed away, at 66 years young, from a heart attack at a resort in Mexico. “Paco lived as he wished and died playing with his children beside the sea,” said a statement from de Lucia’s family published on the websites of Spanish newspapers.

Paco took the Flamenco style and tradtition of the elders in the genre and blasted off into his own universe, to some early criticism, owning every note of his huge legacy and backing up all his moves with incredible chops and technique. I had many unforgettable chances to see Paco in person doing his thing, each a unique and unpredictable experience, except for the sheer technical mastery of his instrument always present. I also took away from these shows Paco’s palpable confidence, his air of “badass”-ness that deservedly asserted his own internal awareness of what he was doing in the moment. I lament his passing, and will miss him tremendously. Adios, Paco.

Fortunately we have much in the visual and audio realms  to see and hear Paco, and to mark the absolutely inimitable place that Paco held in the music landscape. The 2-CD set, En  Vivo Conciertos, won a Grammy and is a most enjoyable album, displaying Paco’s genius live, and represents the last tour he did almost exactly. Amoeba has some true gems of Paco’s here.

(photographer unknown)

Acid Rumba: Spanish Gypsy Grooves 1969-1976

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, March 13, 2011 09:59pm | Post a Comment


It took me a long time to warm up to flamenco music. My interpretation of Flamenco music came from living in the U.S. To me, Flamenco meant those awful guitar duos with white puffy shirts playing at restaurants or soft jazz instrumentalists such as Struntz & Farah or Willie & Lobo, who played what most Americans considered Flamenco. Then, there are The Gypsy Kings; do I really need I say more? On top of that, most Mexicanos have some sort of grudge against The Spanish for being one of our many oppressors. Even though I am first generation, I still held the grudge of my indigenous ancestors.

I soon discovered that Flamenco came from Spain’s Moorish roots and not from the awful Christians who conquered the Americas. In fact, the Christians hated it. The music was mostly improvised and lyrically has lots to do with love, life, death and sex, but mostly sex. Most Mexican music I love (Son Jarocho and Son Huasteco) has the same African and Arabic roots. I soon embraced Flamenco and dove into a much needed Flamenco listening session. My taste grew and I became a fan of Manolo Caracol, La Niña de Los Peines, El Agujetas, Camaron De La Isla and Paco De Lucia. I also became a fan of the new school flamenco: Buika, Radio Tarifa and Ojos De Brujo.

But until I started working at Amoeba, I had no idea there was a movement in the seventies that merged Flamenco with Rock, Funk and Psyche. The mixture makes perfect sense to me, as there are many similarities with the music. The minute I heard it I was an instant fan. Acid Rumba: Spanish Gypsy Grooves 1969-1976 captures that moment in time in Spain where the progressive movement met its past. Every artist on this collection is immensely talented. You can tell each singer and guitarist could kill it on the traditional front. From Los Amaya’s “Bailen Mi Rumbita” to the heavy meets sweet Morena Y Clara’s “Dejé De Quererte,“ there is no denying the fusion of fuzzed-out Flamenco Rock and funky rhythms. It was also a time when established Flamenco artists stretched out, as in Dolores Vargas "La Terremoto" and El Noi’s “Zorongo Rock.”

Hundergrum Records has put out some amazing collections in the past, including the must find Atenshion! Refleshion! Spanish Psychedelic Grooves, 1967-1976, which was one of my favorite Psyche collections to come out of Spain. Like Atenshion! Refleshion!, Acid Rumba will only be on LP and it’s limited to 600 copies. We have a few at Amoeba, so don’t sleep on this!

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Colombian-Americans - Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 29, 2010 03:00pm | Post a Comment

In the US, the word "Latino" is used often, regardless of accuracy, as shorthand for a region's dominant Latino population. In the southwest it usually means "Mexican," in the northeast it means "Puerto Rican" and in Florida, "Cuban." Indeed, those are the three largest populations of Latino-Americanos in the country, although it goes without saying that there are many less-recognized groups of Latinos. Each have their own distinct culture, history, and place in America. This entry is about Colombians, who at an estimated 730,510 currently living in the US, make up the seventh largest Latino population, and the largest population of South-American immigrants in the country.

The country of Colombia is home to at least 85 indigenous nations, including the Muisca, Quimbaya, Tairona, Wayuu, Arhuacos, Kuna, Paez, Tucano, Guahibo, Cauca, Guajira and Guainia. The main population of European immigrants to Colombia were from Spain. Basques, Italians, Germans, the French, Swiss, Poles and Russians also migrated in large numbers. Smaller but significant numbers of European immigrants include Belgians, Lithuanians, Dutch, British, Portugese and Croatians in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From 1825 til 1851 the Spaniards forcibly brought uncounted numbers of slaves from West Africa. Syrians and Lebanese arrived from the Levant. Today, 58% of Colombians self-identify as mestizo, 20% as white, 14% as mulatto, 4% as black, 3% as zambo, and 1% as Native.

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Dia De Los Muertos

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, November 2, 2009 02:31pm | Post a Comment

Every year I look forward to building my altar for Dia De Los Muertos. It’s become more important to me than Christmas or New Year's, and most certainly more than Thanksgiving. It's time for me to take time out and think of those who have left this world and look forward to their spiritual return via memories, stories and offerings. Besides images of family and friends that have passed on, I like to include musicians and artists who have inspired me in some way. This year, many great musicians from Latin America and Spain have passed. So this is my ofrenda to them. Pan De Muerto, Chocolate and Tequila for all spirits who visit. I hope you can include the souls listed below in your altar or in your thoughts today.

Mercedes Sosa (Argentina)
Argentine folk sing and outspoken activist. Along with Silvio Rodriguez, Victor Jara, Violeta Parra and many others, was part of the Nueva Canción movement. Nueva Cancion was the mixture of Latin American folk music and rock with progressive and politicized lyrics. Mercedes Sosa is not only respected in her native country, but around the world. Her most recent album, Cantora, contains collaborations with the likes of Shakira, Caetano Veloso and Luis Alberto Spinetta.

Jorge Reyes (Mexico)
Jorge Reyes started one of Mexico’s first progressive rock bands, Choc Mool, in the late 70’s/early 80’s. He played both guitar and flute while incorporating many indigenous instruments of Mexico. In 1985, Jorge went solo and released a series of new age albums based upon indigenous Mexican culture. He performed legendary concerts at famous Mexican archeological sites such Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza and his music was used for movies and television shows around the world. Coincidentally, he had an annual Dia De Los Muertos show at The Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City that was widely popular.

Joe Cuba (Puerto Rico)
His real name was Gilberto Miguel Calderón, and he was from Puerto Rico, not Cuba. He was known as the "Father of Latin Boogaloo," the marriage between Soul and Latin music. His many hits include “Sock It To Me Baby” “Bang Bang” and “El Pito (I’ll Never Go Back To Georgia)." As a bandleader, he helped start up the careers of such future legends of Salsa as Cheo Feliciano, Ruben Blades, Charlie Palmeri and Jimmy Sabater.

Manny Oquendo (USA)
Manny was a self-taught percussionist that went on to play with some of the biggest names in Latin Music. He played with Tito Puente, Eddie Palmeri, Johnny Pacheco and Tito Rodriguez, among many others. Manny was instrumental in bringing the complicated Cuban rhythm Mozambique to Latin Jazz and Salsa. He, along with Bassist Andy Gonzalez, formed Grupo Folklorico Y Experimental Nuevayorquino and recorded the classic Concepts In Unity, which is a must hear for any percussionist. Soon after, Manny and Andy formed Libre, a group that Manny played with until January of 2009.

Maria Trinidad Perez de Miravete Mille aka Mari Trini (Spain)
As a child, Mari Trini suffered from various kidney ailments. She was told that her condition was incurable, so instead of dwelling on it, she became of Spain’s most popular singers. She first went to France and recorded an album in French before returning to Spain in the late 60’s. While in France, she was influenced by Jaques Brel and Juliette Greco, and even went as far as saying that she wanted to become the “Spanish Juliette Greco.” The fiercely independent Trini found herself at odds the oppressive Franco –era conservatism and she was exactly what Spain needed. Her songs became feminist anthems and her attire (wearing pants rather than dresses) influenced women in Spain to do the same. Mari became popular for her romantic songs although she was quiet about her own romantic life. She hid the fact that she was a lesbian for many years, often having to answer questions why she didn’t have a boyfriend. Her popularity waned over the years but many of her songs are considered classics, such as “Acércate,” “Un Hombre Marchó,” “Yo No Soy Esa” and Una Estrella En Mi Jardín.” In 2001, she recorded a comeback album with Los Panchos, re-recording her greatest hits "Trios" style.

Orlando “Cachaito” Lopez (Cuba)
Mainstream audiences knew Chachaito as the bassist for The Buena Vista Social Club. However, like the other musicians involved with BVSC, he had a long career before that. He came from a musical family. His father was Cuban composer Orestes Lopez and his uncle was the legendary bassist Israel “Cachao” Lopez. As a teenager he started to play in many of Cuba’s big bands. At seventeen, he replaced his uncle in the group Arcana y sus Maravillas and soon after started playing with Orchestra Riverside. He played classical music during the day and with Cuban dance bands at night. At one point, he was part of the Cuban experimental group Irakere along with Chucho Valdés, Arturo Sandoval, and Paquito D'Rivera. His only solo album, the excellent Cachaito, came out in 2001. It is a blend of Cuban Music with Dub Reggae, Jazz and African music. Unfortunately, due to the Buena Vista Social Club hype, the album got lost in the shuffle. Revisiting it recently, it was years ahead of its time.

Honorable mention:
Ralph Mercado (Puerto Rico)-Salsa promoter and once head of RMM Records.
Quintin Cabrera (Uruguay)-Nueva Cancionero, wrote “Senor Presidente.”
Suma Paz (Argentina)-Folk singer who introduced the compositions of fellow Argentine Atahualpa Yupanqui to the rest of the world.
Ramón Piñon (Tejano)- He was the leader of his own conjunto for many years and is known for helping give Freddy Fender his start in the music business.
Edgardo Miranda (Puerto Rico) guitarist, played with Tito Puente and Cortijo.
Ricardo Abreu (Cuba) one of the infamous members of Los Papines, known as “the Harlem Globetrotters of Cuban percussion.”
Antonio Vega (Spain) Former lead singer of Nacha Pop, wrote the Spanish Rock anthem “La Chica De Ayer.”
Rafael Escalona (Colombia)- Vallenato songwriter, co-founder of the Vallenato Legend Festival.
Jesus Alfonso Miro (Cuba)- Musical director of Los Muñequitos De Mantanza.
Otilio Galíndez (Venezuela) - A songwriter and composer who wrote many Christmas related songs. His songs were covered by the likes of Mercedes Sosa, Pablo Milanes and Silvio Rodriguez.


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