Saturday, June 9, 2012

In review---Mountain Blues

The Mountain Music Project
A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya
The Mountain Music Project

When you start actually listening to music from around the globe, you come across surprising similarities.  This isn’t news to seasoned ethnomusicologists and it’s not news to fans of traditional music who keep their ears plugged into specialty music radio shows.  However, who thought there was a connection between bluegrass music of the Blue Mountains and Nepalese folk tunes? Got me and got me again.

The musician caste of Nepal referred to as Gandharba who passed down oral tradition songs sound well, a bit twang.  And if twang is your thing, you’ll love this double dose of American bluegrass and traditional Nepalese songs.  These musicians not only give some outstanding performances on exotic and familiar instruments, they also engage in the art of storytelling on The Mountain Music Project’s A Musical Odyssey from Appalachia to Himalaya.  Many famous American folksongs find their roots in Appalachia.  Think Oh, Susannah, as one example. Life is a hard scrabble and that includes falling in love.  But in the case with a folk song protagonist in the Nepalese Honira Salala (Water Flowing Slowly), falling in love with someone who has 32 teeth is a good thing in deed.  Another humorous song is So Many Eggs with the lyrics “She lays so many eggs...” and I hope the musicians are singing about a bird.

Lead by Tim O’Brien, bluegrass musicians coming on board the project include, Danny Knicely (guitar, mandolin, fiddle and vocals), Tara Linhardt (mandolin and vocals), Tony Trischka (bluegrass banjo), Abigail Washburn (vocals), Curtis Burch (dobro), Mark Schatz (bass), Aaron Olwell (Irish wooden flute), Matthew Olwell, (percussive dance), and Paul Brown (old time banjo).  Filling out the Nepalese side of the equation are Buddhiman Gandharba (vocal, sarangi), Manoj Gandharba (vocals madal), Jagat B. Gandharba (bansuri (flute) and madal), and Ganesh Gandhari (vocals and madal).  

A surprisingly seamless album, these mountain songs from two different parts of the world, flow into each other like songs of lost cousins.  Anyone interested in folkloric music traditions must pick up this CD along with the DVD of the documentary of this project.  This foot-stomping music will get you going like nothing else will.  Enjoy!

DVD Trailer

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