What a great night of entertainment Globalquerque! was. A hearty thanks goes out to Tom and Neal and all those who helped organize such a great event here in Albuquerque.
I closed up shop a bit early and rushed over to catch Reelroad, a group from Russia who utilizes both traditional and modern instruments for spirited interpretations of traditional songs from Russia, Ukraine, Finland, and some originals too. My rush to see them was delayed a bit by a stop to enjoy New Mexico's own Cuarenta y Cinco on the Plaza Mayor stage, a great band to loosen everyone's hips up for what was sure to be an evening of dancing, or at least swaying side to side with the music.
17 Hippies was next up on the main stage - I'd heard a disc of their's before and was curious to see how on earth they were going to pull that off live. I counted, there weren't 17, seemed to 13 crammed on stage - a sound man's nightmare but an audience delight. "Genre Busting" was how they were described, "genre obliterating" might be better. Definitely rooted in some warped idea of Weimar era Cabaret, they glided between faux-mariachi horn blasts, klezmer clarinets, and some of the most unique audience participation I've seen. Great fun!!
I left the Hippies in the midst of the last song to duck inside to see Savina Yannatou, the renowned Greek singer, that performs what I think could best be described as a Pan-Mediterranean sound scape. Her band were crack musicians, and her voice was amazing, seeing resident Albuquerque Oud master Rahim Al-Haj leap to his feet to applaud was certainly a sign of the regard that Savina and her band should be held in.
Back to Plaza Mayor for what I was looking forward to the most, Vieux Farke Toure, the son of legendary Malian musician Ali Farke Toure. He opened with a song either his father wrote or made famous.. wonderful to hear, I was fortunate to see his father about 13 years ago and it was fantastic to hear a few of his songs live again. That being said, Vieux is his own musician and has his own ideas, and they Rock! He's got the moves and the grooves. They cut their audience participation song a bit short because started to rain, but pulled out all the stops for their farewell tune. The rain wasn't stopping them or the dancing crowd from having an ounce of fun!
At this point most people sauntered for cover as the rain started, many finding themselves in the fountain courtyard for what was probably the quite treat of the night. Mor Karbasi, a singer specializing in singing in Lidino, the language of the Sephardic Jews of Spain. Wow!!! Wow!!! Wow!!! her voice was amazing and her musicians were fantastic. The guitarist put down his guitar and sang a duet with her, stunning. This was probably the magic moment of the night. The cottonwood in the middle of the courtyard barely shielding the audience from the rain, but few cared, they were more intent on leaning in to hear the quite performance, better suited for a living room sized venue but absolutely wonderful with hundreds of people enthralled in the warmly light courtyard.
The final act of the night was Lila Downs, a favorite of Albuquerque. I made it through about 1/2 dozen of her songs before exhaustion set in and I beat the retreat. Everyone seemed to be enjoying her performance greatly. Her band was stellar, I had always wanted to see a show of hers and was bit sad that I was growing weary of being awake, but I can take comfort in knowing she'll be back sooner than later. It was great to see folks look like they were going to continue to dance for hours more.
Albuquerque is exceptionally fortunate to have such a festival, most of the performers had never set foot in New Mexico, for some this was the first time in the US. I'm excited for todays free afternoon events and more concerts this evening - Savina and Mor are both playing again. Possibly the most difficult decision is who not to see, as there are top notch acts on each of the three stages. Oh... I strongly suggest to not eat before you go and follow this strategy, eat a little from each booth followed by a course of a different flavour of Toas Cow ice cream, Santa Fe Brewing Company is also there with a selection of their tasty brews.
Neal and Tom thanks again for putting together such a great event in our city!