In our Second Season Arts package, we look at the upcoming months and share some of the stuff we’re dying to see and hear between now and summer. Here's music writer Mary Armstrong's picks for roots music; for more on what's coming up in music and the arts, check out our calendars of spring must-sees for visual arts, dance, theater and music from pop to jazz to classical.
Oliver Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits
Mtukudzi’s Afro-pop legend status was earned honestly, with complex guitar conversations that underscore open-hearted lyrics sung by exuberant dancers. His shows (example to the right) are the sight and sound of joy.
Jan. 12, Painted Bride.
Do you like samba and Balkan brass bands? Red Baraat is neither. Or both. It’s a mash-up of those two feelings, with dhol drumming and MC rhymes. Consider their alias, “Brooklyn Bhangra,” and sprinkle on everything stimulating in the air there, plus some go-go, funk and jazz. (TV viewers may already know one of RB’s tunes from the promo for It’s Always Sunny.) Should be fun to watch a live audience trying to stay seated.
Jan. 26, Annenberg Center.
A supple soprano with a country warble recalling Dolly or Nancy Griffith, Lin-di Or-te-ga has enough grit to rock sassily when her ori-ginals call for it.
Feb. 1, Tin Angel.
Did James Brown ever get to hear this guy? Hunter’s new CD, Minute by Minute, goes beyond powerful to potentially dangerous soul-shrieking.
Feb. 28, World Café Live.
Ragas are composed for a specific time of day. Crossroads, in collaboration with myriad Indian organizations, is presenting one entire 24-hour cycle of Hindustani classical music — singers, sitars, sarods. The temptation to attend in the middle of the night, and nod off to Hindi song is irresistible.
April 6-7, Drexel campus, Crossroads Music.
Cedric Watson and Bijou Creole
A young man from Texas with Louisiana roots reclaimed his heritage and made a down-home party of it. We’re talking fiddle and accordion and the country side of Black French Louisiana, perfect dance music.
April 12, TK Club, Allons Danser.
Jake Shimabukuro and Leo Kottke
Frets fans rejoice at this combination: Shi-ma-bukuro, the man who made us take the ukulele seriously, with one of the guitar’s more playful improvisers, Leo Kottke. There’s no telling where this will lead.
April 21, Keswick Theatre.
Describing a Lila Downs show is a crapshoot. Knowing what she did before is no guarantee she won’t pull another rabbit out of her mystical, musical hat. Givens are her astonishing vocal range, more languages than you can identify and a theme of some kind. The core of her band has been with her for years and never blinks no matter how folk or how urban Downs chooses to take them.
April 28, Annenberg Center.