Jen Shyu

2014 Doris Duke Impact Award recipient Jen Shyu explores multi-cultural identities through a musical journey, with special guest Mark Dresser, Monday, February 2, at 7pm at UCSD’s Loft.

. . . a personal journey of loss and redemption made universal through the exploration of hardships that plagues our modern world: loss of tradition, habitat, and public spaces. Sonic, visual, and visceral rites and reflections are discovered by pilgrimage through Taiwan, East Timor, Indonesia, Vietnam, and South Korea. . . .

Details here.

Happy Traum

A Presentation of San Diego Folk Heritage

Happy Traum, with Chris Clarke

Friday, January 30, 2015  • 7:30 pm
Templar’s Hall
14134 Midland Road
Poway, CA 92064

Admission: $18 (SDFH members $15)

For details, including Guitar Workshop with Happy Traum on Sunday, February 1, see the San Diego Folk Heritage website.

Khmer Classical Dance

An interesting short essay about the survival of dance in post-Pol Pot Cambodia . . .

The dawn of the Khmer Rogue marked the darkest episode in the history of classical dance. The Khmer Rogue sought to exterminate all dancers and artists. Nine in 10 classical dancers died; they took to the grave hundreds of moves and choreographies. The dance virtually disappeared.

After the downfall of the Khmer Rogue, the first efforts to resurrect dance took place in the refugee camps along the Thai border, where communities of dancers organically mushroomed. These refugees were the first ones to begin the seemingly impossible task of reforming the almost obliterated art. They worked hard to remember the lost moves and choreographies, and, little by little, the dance was infused with life again.

Read the full article at


Lead Belly

January 20 is the birthday of Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly (c. 1888–1949). Smithsonian Folkways is celebrating with a new social media series, “Lead Belly: Song by Song.”  This will be followed on February 24, 2015, by the release of Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, a multi-CD set of recordings spanning the artist’s career.

See the Smithsonian Folkways Tumbler pages.

Music in School

More news about the developmental benefits of music education for children . . .

The study by the University of Vermont College of Medicine found that even those who never made it past nursery rhyme songs and do-re-mi’s likely received some major developmental benefits just from playing. The study provides even more evidence as to why providing children with high-quality music education may be one of the most effective ways to ensure their success in life.

Read at

Balkan Echoes

Martin Koenig, a good friend of the CWM, has spearheaded an extraordinary project to document disappearing music and dance cultures of the Balkans. His efforts are coming to fruition in the form of recordings (in partnership with Smithsonian Folkways), a book, and exquisite fine-art photographs.  Very much worth the attention of lovers of traditional performing arts . . .

After my first visit, I felt an urgency to preserve the music and dance traditions that were disappearing throughout the country. I was driven by the goal of documenting and recording the traditional music and dance of each place I visited, by permanently memorializing them on 16 mm film stock and audiotape.

Browse to Balkan for a look at the photos and book.

Afro-Cuban Drums

As part of “Beat Week,” National Public Radio does a segment on the connection between Santeria and Cuban music . . .

The sacred and the secular have shared a place in Cuban music going back to the 19th century — and, in fact, sacred music with roots in west Africa informs a lot of Cuban popular music.

Read (better, listen) to the story at

In Between Songs

In view of our upcoming Didjeridoo Night, and on its own merits, this looks like a wonderful new film. On Australian aboriginal culture, music, and survival . . .

Within the small Australian Aboriginal community of Nhulunbuy, Djalu Gurruwiwi, famed traditional didjeridu craftsman and player, alongside his sister, Dhanggal, strain to keep Galpu clan traditions safe from numerous internal and external forces. Every day, the pressures on the Yolngu living in the Northern Territory’s Arnhem Land region seem to mount.

For video clips, photos, and opportunities to view, see the official website.

Demise of the Piano

An interesting, and perhaps sad, development. Acoustic piano sales are way down, and piano retailers are going out of business . . .

American children are increasingly over-scheduled, and when the choice is between competitive sports or the rigors of practicing the piano, music will tend to lose out. Not to mention the copious amounts of homework, or time in front of the TV, computer or tablet.

“People are interested in things that don’t take much effort, so the idea of sitting and playing an hour a day to learn piano is not what kids want to do,” [said] Larry Fine, a piano technician, consultant and author . . .

Read the story on Quartz.

Urur-Olcott Fest

The annual Chennai (Madras) Music Season is an exclusive affair. Leading artists of South India, led by T. M. Krishna,  have this year attempted to reach out to underserved audiences . . .

To make the festival more inclusive, leading Carnatic vocalist TM Krishna decided to take Carnatic music to more non-traditional venues, such as the fishing village. Krishna, a rare practitioner to openly criticise the unhealthy elitism of Carnatic music, roped in Nityanand Jayaraman, an environmental activist who works in the fishing village. Jayaraman then raised money for the event through crowd-funding.

Read on at

See also article at