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Clinton Davis

Clinton Ross Davis: Steeped in Old-Time American Music

The Center for World Music’s World Music in the Schools is delighted to profile teaching artist Dr. Clinton Davis, who is cultivating the next generation of audiences for traditional American music in San Diego.

Clinton Davis is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and educator. He was born and raised in Kentucky and now lives in San Diego, California. A fifth-generation Kentuckian, Davis grew up in Carroll County with faint residues of old-time music lingering in the air. With guitar, banjo, fiddle, harmonica, mandolin, and piano, Clinton sifts through America’s musical past. With the G Burns Jug Band, Davis arranges music of country, blues, and jazz greats from before World War II for a five-piece ensemble. Their second album received a San Diego Music Award.

G Burns Jug Band

 

Clinton is an enthusiastic scholar and singer of American shape-note music, traveling to every corner of the country to sing these unique tunes of a cappella harmony with others. In the summers of 2013 and 2014, he toured the Sand Mountain region of Alabama. There, he immersed himself in singing that has existed as an unbroken tradition for over 150 years.

 

In 2015, Clinton became an official Deering Artist, partnering with the Deering Banjo Company and appearing in their catalog to showcase their Goodtime Americana line of banjos.

In 2016, Clinton earned his doctorate in music at the University of California, San Diego. He served as an associate instructor at UCSD, leading a survey course in American roots music.

Beginning in 2017, Clinton has presented a series of concerts called the Southern Pacific Sessions, featuring a variety of musicians performing traditional American music at Kalabash Music & Arts in the Bird Rock neighborhood of San Diego.

Clinton teaches private music lessons and leads middle school clawhammer-style banjo classes as a teaching artist for the CWM’s World Music in the Schools program.

If you want to catch Clinton performing, check out his upcoming gigs, along with a plethora of other gems on his website, www.clintonrossdavis.com.

Enjoy this YouTube video of Clinton performing Kenesaw Mountain Rag with G Burns Jug Band.

Ilana Queiroz – Brazilian Capoeira Dance and Music

We are happy to welcome Ilana Queiroz as a teaching artist in the Center’s World Music in the Schools program. Originally from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, Ilana is currently teaching capoeira—an art form that combines music, dance, and acrobatics—to second grade students at the San Diego French American School. Having taught since 2000 at more than a dozen schools in the San Diego area, Ilana brings a wealth of teaching experience to World Music in the Schools. Outside of California, Ilana taught Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Cuban rhythms in Andalucia, Spain, during the years 2004 and 2005. She participates in the Ginga Mundo Capoeira group, and plays percussion professionally with ensembles in many styles. Her most recent musical project is a duo called Bossa Lounge Project, a fusion of Bossa Nova and contemporary Brazilian music.

Ilana Queiroz 3A trained anthropologist, Ilana has a profound interest in culture. She began teaching capoeira because she noticed that this practice had begun to spread all over the world, but that, in the process, the focus on the history, lyrics, meaning, and purpose of the art form was being lost. Ilana loves to use music and dance as an approach to history, and as an anthropologist, she sees capoeira as an excellent vehicle for teaching inclusion and community involvement. As a mother, she ensures the lessons are accessible by children of all ages and learning styles.

 

Capoeira for me is a complete art. It teaches timing, spatial perception, eye contact, respect, community, and partnership. It teaches children to be courageous and to try new activities in different disciplines. Capoeira encourages movement which allows kids to literally see the world from another perspective—doing cart wheels, hand and head stands.

 

Ilana Queiroz 2

In her experience as a teacher, Ilana finds that capoeira encompasses so many aspects of learning that each child can find a favorite element in the art to focus on. Her capoeira class consists of stretches, warm up (often with games related to the history or movements learned), and technique (kicks, dodges, timing, and dance sequences). Musically, she teaches rhythm and various instruments through capoeira songs. Children learn how to play the agogô, pandeiro, atabaque (drum), reco-reco, caxixi and sometimes the berimbau. Every instrument has a different feel and technique, contributing to distinct musical patterns. The students develop the ability to work in harmony with each other and multitask through capoeira’s style of call-and-response. The lyrics are in Portuguese, so students have a chance to learn songs in a new language, bringing the students a new linguistic experience. Some lyrics are very old and simple, reflecting a certain time in the past, so Ilana uses this opportunity to tell the story about what life was like for these songwriters and dancers. In this way she is able to integrate language, geography, history, and movement into her lessons.

Ilana Queiroz 4Ilana’s teaching philosophy is to facilitate contact with the culture, develop a sense of community, and to encourage familiarity of the capoeira player with his or her own body. She also sees great value in exposure to rhythm, the native language, and different instruments. Most especially, she tries to teach her students that happiness is the fuel for a healthy life.

 

Miles Shrewsbery and the Cultural Context of the Tabla

One of the most important things students do in Miles Shrewsbery’s music classes at the Museum School and at Hawking Charter School is take off their shoes.

This is no ordinary music class. An American tabla artist and teaching artist for the Center for World Music, Miles instructs students grades K–6 how to play a North Indian percussion instrument called the tabla. An essential part of studying the tabla, like many traditional world music instruments, is the passing on of the symbolic meaning and special significance of the instrument and its cultural origins. Miles teaches the geography of North India, its language, and the stories about the history and masters of the instrument. Students also learn the various customs surrounding this musical tradition.

“These elements are inseparable from the music. The context of music is what creates the unique feelings and expressions from a given culture,” says Miles.

MIles SchoolMiles teaches his students that playing the tabla is more than the physical act of playing the drums. It’s also about understanding a worldview — something that Miles came to realize through his own study of the tabla in India and the US.

From the moment Miles first heard the tabla at age 17, “it was love at first sound.” He had an immediate connection with the instrument, even though he knew nothing about India and its culture.

Miles’ teachers, Abhiman Kaushal and Pandit Nandkumar Bhatlouande of Hyderabad, India, educated him about the rich context in which the tabla originates. “In addition to practicing, I studied the language, values and the cultural practices. For example, I learned about respect  and responsibility for one’s family, one’s teacher and to the tradition of the tabla — the whole interchange.”

Removing your shoes before playing the tabla is one of the practices Miles encourages in his students. He explains, “we remove our shoes just before playing the tabla. Why? On the practical side, most activities in India are traditionally done sitting crossed legged on the ground, so this is a way of keeping the space clean. On the spiritual side of things, the idea comes from within Indian music. We believe that the instrument is a pathway to God, so in a sense, removing your shoes signifies both respect and cleanliness to the instrument and what it represents. We also never step over the instrument, much like the Indonesian gamelan, because it is disrespectful to show the bottom of one’s feet toward something as sacred as an instrument.”

The students of the Museum School and Hawking Charter School are exposed to many of the most important skills, knowledge, and wisdom Miles has gained from his years of dedication to the tabla. Each student is now part of a long continuum of musicians who have passed down the artform within one of the oldest musical traditions in the world. Not bad for an elementary school music class.

“We really underestimate how much children can register when it comes to developing a broader cultural understanding,” Miles says. “I’m always amazed at how much children can master, both at the level of playing the instrument and of understanding the cultural nuances of the tradition. I wish adults were such quick studies!”

 

Profile picMiles Shrewsbery is an American tabla artist and disciple of Sri Abhiman Kaushal and Pandit Nandkumar Bhatlouande of Hyderabad, India, as well as a co-owner of Avaaz Records. Miles is trained in the Farukhabad Gharana of his teachers and is a respected performer of its rich, aesthetic repertoire through his years of dedicated study and practice. Miles has performed all over the world in prestigious venues such as the Symphony Space (New York City), Smithsonian Museum (Washington D.C.), Tokyo Museum of Modern Art (Tokyo, Japan), Royal Horticultural Hall (London, England), and St. Paul Cathedral (New York City). He has performed with top musicians such as Shujaat Khan, Deepak Ram, Googoosh, Cheap Trick, and Yusef Lateef. Some notable soundtracks and recordings where Miles’ tabla and percussion can be found are: Sinbad (Dreamworks 2003), The Rundown (Columbia 2003), The Riches (FX 2007), Yusef Lateef and Adam Rudolph – Into the Garden (Meta Records 2003), Dave Stringer – Divas and Devas (Spirit Voyage 2007), and Dave Stringer – Yatra (Silenzio 2011). In 2004, Miles earned a B.A. in ethnomusicology from UCLA, and in 2009, he earned an M.A. in ethnomusicology from UCR. In 2012 Miles was awarded the American Institute of Indian Studies’ Senior Performing Arts Fellowship, which supported Miles to further his studies and practice in New Delhi, India for one year. Currently, Miles is a teaching artist in residence for the Center For World Music in San Diego, California.

 

To see video of Miles performing, please visit these links:

Traditional:

House Concert in New Deli, India

Tabla Solo – Delhi Kaida

Contemporary:

Eight Dollar Watermelon

Chasm

Fond Farewell to Putu Hiranmayena

We are pleased to share that Putu Hiranmayena, Balinese gamelan musician and much loved teaching artist for the Center for World Music, will be pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Ethnomusicology in the fall of 2015.

To help bid Putu a happy journey we asked Phil Beaumont, Director of the Museum School and David Harnish, Ph.D., Chair and Professor, Music Department, University of San Diego, to write a few words on their experiences working with Putu.

When one walks into the classroom, whether young or old, one can immediately feel the essence of Putu’s passion for Balinese gamelan and, in particular, teaching it to children. HIs smile is contagious, and sets a tone for our students to learn to love the intricate music they play. Putu understands that music is meant to be enjoyed and to be a part of who we are. After teaching students the many possible variations of a piece, he allows them to take ownership as a group and develop their own arrangements for performance. In doing so, he has captured them as musicians, and they can then capture their audience. A true gift.

— Phil Beaumont, Director of the Museum School

 

For me, I Putu Adi Tangkas Hiranmayena just showed up. I had no idea that other parties (e.g., Alex Khalil, The Museum School, the CWM, and his father [I Made Lasmawan]) had played a part in bringing him to San Diego. Putu contacted me out of the blue, told me he was the son of Pak Lasmawan (a good friend), and volunteered to join the USD Gamelan Ensemble, which I had just started the previous year. What a stroke of luck! Putu had not done a lot of work directing ensembles before coming to San Diego, but he was a skilled musician and drummer and knew a number of tunes. I immediately arranged a stipend for him, and later asked that he direct our gamelan (Balinese gamelan angklung), which he did for two years.

I saw him blossom into a fine and dynamic director, adding his own innovative ideas here and there to the repertoire. He communicated well with our students and got everyone excited about playing as he increased the tempo. He also demanded that students play with precision. We at USD will really miss him and I will personally miss him a lot, but I am very proud of his accomplishments and know he will be in good hands at University of Illinois, where he will team with I Ketut Gede Asnawa and the ethnomusicology faculty. His ideas of metal and gamelan and contemporary music may come further to fruition. Hopefully, we will all see him again some day back in San Diego. I intend to visit him in Bali as well and to meet him at ethnomusicological conferences.

— David Harnish, Ph.D., Chair and Professor, Music Department, University of San Diego

 

putuhiranmeyaWe always knew Putu would one day continue his formal education in ethnomusicology and experimental arts academia. The Center for World Music bids him the best in all of his future endeavors, and thanks him for his contributions to our musical and cultural efforts in San Diego.

While pursuing his Ph.D., Putu will continue work in Balinese gamelan, improvisation, and high adrenaline activities. This includes development of theories in embodiment and creative practices. He hopes to start a gamelan ensemble emphasizing real-time composition.

Spyros Zagoraios

Great Rebetico Singer Spyros Zagoraios Passes at 86

His songs were hits throughout Greece for decades . . .

Music was his entire life, he once said in an interview. “I like to sing, my whole life is singing. Even when I walk around I whistle.”

Rebetico (Rebetiko, Rembetiko) is sometimes referred to as the “Greek blues.”  Very much worth a listen, if you’re not familiar with it.

Read the article at GreekReporter.com.

See (and hear) also this YouTube clip.

 

Grover Burt

Capturing Blues in Black and White

A new book with wonderful photos of blues musicians . . . And check out the excellent collection of audio files down the page linked below!

As founder and executive director of the Music Maker Relief Foundation, Tim Duffy snapped photos while helping musicians make ends meet. The photos and captions in his new book of his black-and-white photography tell a rich and vivid history of the life and music of these artists.

Read on at PBS.org.