Since 2005, ¡Globalquerque! has imported bands from all parts of the globe, enlightening local audiences along the way.
By Kevin Hopper
The one strange and perfectly ironic fact about ¡Globalquerque!, one of largest, most well-attended music festivals in New Mexico, is that virtually none of the bands imported to perform since its founding in 2005 can readily be heard on commercial radio.
While that could certainly be considered bad news for the bands in question — if nobody knows about your band, who is really going to buy your record? — the exact opposite rings true in this case. To be sure, commercial radio play is most often the golden ticket to success in the music world. However, there is a very strong contingent of music fans who continually and inherently seek out well-written, groundbreaking songs (regardless of genre) that almost never touch the FM dial. Those folks would never, ever utter the phrase “I hate reggae” or “I can’t stand country music.” They love it all, as long as it is good.
In terms of world music, I was unfortunately one of those people who consistently eschewed the genre, likely due to the simple fact that I couldn’t understand French/Spanish/Portugese, et al. Fairly ignorant for a so-called music writer, right?
Thankfully, over the years, ¡Globalquerque!, more than any other catalyst, has introduced me to bands I never would have known otherwise. Most of those acts hail from lands faraway, such as Niger, Spain, Germany, Columbia, Iran, Mongolia and numerous other countries — bands that would have never show up on my radar from now until death. That in itself is a huge gift.
Ironically, my latest “world music discovery” comes in the form of veteran American blues singer Bettye LaVette, slated to headline this year’s two-day ¡Globalquerque! event — held on Sep. 21 and 22 at theNational Hispanic Cultural Center. At first glance, the fact that LaVette hails from Detroit might seem a dubious choice for a world music festival held in the U.S. But do yourself a favor and stop right there.
Since its founding, the overall mission of ¡Globalquerque! has been to bring the music of the world to this sleepy little town of ours. That world, the last time I checked, includes Detroit, or Ghana or London or Tokyo or Lubbock, Texas, for that matter. In fact, the festival’s 2010 headliner, The Flatlanders, have called Lubbock home since its 1972 formation.
LaVette, who now claims New Jersey as home, can be considered one of the more talented torch bearers of classic blues in the modern scene. Her voice is at once clear and to the point, as well as enigmatic. It’s a bruised soul of a voice screaming out to a cruel world for respite. In the song “I’m Not the One,” from her most recent release, Thankful ‘N Thoughtful, she sings, “I’ve been tried and I’ve been tested/I was born tired and I still ain’t got rested.”
Featuring Bettye LaVette