Folklife Festival Announces Lineup
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival has a reputation for spotlighting eclectic themes during the annual summertime event, and this year's lineup is shaping up to be another random grab bag. The Smithsonian announced the 2009 dates and programming, and this year's Folklife spotlight will shine on Wales, African American storytelling and musicians from the United States and Latin America from June 24-28 and July 1-5.
"Giving Voice: The Power of Words in African American Culture" will look at African American oral traditions that have influenced American culture, including performances of poetry and storytelling. Meanwhile, "The Americas: A Musical World" will feature an assortment of music, like mariachi from Mexico, Guatemalan marimba and drum- and maraca-heavy bomba from Puerto Rico.
As for Wales (or Cymru in Welsh), there will be Welsh food, music and workshops. When this announcement came out and Fritz heard there would be Welsh music, he began imagining the possibilities of the bands the Smithsonian would book. Check out the acts on his wish list after the jump.
We got kind of excited in the office today in talking about Wales being part of the Folklife Festival. Standing around sipping Brains Dark and watching rugby sounds like a great way to spend a summer afternoon. The Smithsonian mentions live music in its press release, but the names of the performers won't be announced until June. In the meantime, we'd like to offer our own suggestions, complete with video and audio.
Wondering why ladies still throw their underwear at Wales' most famous singer?
Back before they had chart-topping albums -- and before guitarist/songwriter Richie Edwards went missing -- the Manics were the finest glam-punk band in Britain, as this 1991 video shows.
So while this wasn't our first choice for a Super Furry Animals track -- that would be the single with the unprintable title -- this 1996 song is a great introduction to the experimental-indie band. Fun fact: They hold the world record for the EP with the longest title: 1995's four-song Welsh-language "Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (In Space)."
There's a reason why Dame Shirley Bassey is the only singer ever to record two James Bond theme songs. (The other, of course, is "Diamonds Are Forever."
The most fierce of the Welsh rockers indulge their more melodic side on this still-plenty-dissonant track.
A Welsh indie band singing about "The X-Files." What, that doesn't make sense to you?
Finally, two songs that don't have videos but are so good we have to include them:
Helen Love - Does Your Heart Go BOOOOOOOMM (MySpace)
Since we can't find clips for the Ramones-obsessed Swansea trio's "Punk Boy," "Debbie Loves Joey" or "Rockaway Beach for Me, Heartbreak Hotel for You," click over to Helen Love's sunny pop-punk single on the band's MySpace page.
Teen Anthems - Welsh Bands Suck (MySpace)
Let's end with this 7" -- one of Fritz's favorites -- from Porthcawl-based one-man-band John William Davies. His dissing of the county's music scene -- "it's all too retro and all too jaded" -- contains the immortal line "Oh no, they sing in Welsh / Ackgh Ackgh Ackgh Ackgh Ackgh Ackgh Ackgh Ackgh Ackgh". Other Teen Anthems titles include "I Hate Oasis (and I Hate the Beatles)" and "Paul Weller = Anti-Christ."
-- David, Fritz and Stephanie
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