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Live music, Ska and a celebration of the immigrant experience

Live music, new music and a celebration of the immigrant experience highlights this weekend's World Music Show. (Photo: Pixaby)

The thing I love about radio programs–especially local radio programs like the ones we carry on VPM, is that for a brief respite, you can tune in and tune out the rest of the world. So for two hours this Saturday night, flip on the streaming dial or set your HiFi and just enjoy the world beats.

On this week’s show, we’ll celebrate some of the sounds of summer, which to me cover live music, new music, some classic Ska and a nod to July 4th with some tracks celebrating immigrants and refugees and America done through a world music lens.

New Music

For new music tonight, I’ve got two new releases that bookend both hours. In hour one, we’ll hear from the Brazilian artist Sessa. His label Co-Sign says that the São Paulo-born Sergio Sayeg (aka Sessa) has always been entranced by what he calls “the mess” of music: the accidental, tortuous nature of it. 

His new album “ Estrela Acesa,” which means “Mexican Summer,” is a bridge to connect the earthy and astral realms of music.

“Estrela Acesa comes to remind people of how music grounds our existence in a meaningful way, with its potential to give roots to the divine in a modern world lacking in symbolic weight,” Sessa says. “Connections with the cosmos, gods, nature …in many cultures that means a relationship with music. I think life can be fulfilling and meaningful and music is one of those experiences.”

In hour two, we’ll hear a new track by the Nigerian born, London-based musician Obongjayar. On his latest release, “Some Nights I Dream Of Doors,” OB, as he’s known (real name Steven Umoh), has some diverse sounds and subcultures while it navigates a wealth of personal and political topics. He writes some spiritual lyrics in a distinctive voice that flits between rap, song and spoken word. Underneath those vocal styles are Afrobeats, soul and hip-hop influences.

Lively Up Yourself

With that slight nod to Bob Marley, to celebrate the start of summer, I’ll put the digital needle down on some live music from a few choice shows. We’ll kick off the first hour with the track “Freedom” by Richie Havens, from his performance at the original Woodstock. So in one track, we’ll celebrate both live music and an American (well, really a world) theme. 

In other chunks, we’ll hear from a live show from a Brazilian legend whose lineage is also legendary– Bebel Gilberto. She did a show at San Diego’s Belly Up club. From that show, we’ll hear “So Nice (Summer Samba),” which of course knocks off two clicks of tonight’s theme. 

Not to be missed too is “Conscious Party,” by Ziggy Marley & the Melody Makers from a show they did at the Hollywood Palladium back in the early 1980s–a show that I was actually in the audience for. Plus, thrown in will be the English Beat from their performance at the US Festival also back in the 80s (a show I was not at). Plus Joe Strummer of The Clash fame, will cover the Clash song “Rudie Can’t Fail,” with his band the Mescaleros. 

America & The Immigrant Experience

Since the July 4th holiday is this weekend, I thought I’d add some tracks that honor the backbone of American life–the immigrants. My family tree goes back to Poland, Scotland, Sweden and Denmark. 

And while I don’t have any songs from those regions this week, I do have selections from Gaby Moreno (“The Immigrants”), Moira Smiley (“Refugee”), U2 (“Refugee”), and Angelica Garcia (“Jicama”), who’s song is about how American born people of color grapple with honoring their cultural heritage while also being a part of the American fabric while many people don’t even recognize their existence. 

Butted up to that category will be tracks that fall under America as a rebel umbrella with songs by David Byrne and One Billion Rising with Tania Asili. 

Last but not least

For all the other bits and pieces this weekend, checkout some classic Ska by Derrick Morgan, the Untouchables and Ernie Smith, who does a great cover of the Beatles “You Won’t See Me.” 

And, some upbeat dance music from Janka Nabay and the Bubu Bubu Gang, Lakou Mizak and Ursula 1000, as well as tracks from Femi Kuti, Los Lobos, the Mexican Institute of Sound and Cornershop will be mixed in.

I’ve left out some tracks too so you’ll have to tune into the World Music Show Saturday nights from 6-8pm on 93.1 or 107.3FM locally, or streaming right here.


Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.