Friday, 28 January 2011

Very welcome

Imagine getting your masters degree in Economics AND in Statistics. What are you going to do next? Get your PhD? Go corporate? Or go to Africa and start a record label? Well that's exactly what Benjamin Lebrave did. His label Akwaaba Music (Akwaaba means 'welcome' in the Ashanti language from Ghana) has been on my radar for some time now (I blogged about their Angolan kuduro compilation in 2009). Always on the look out for the best contemporary African music, they digitally release more trado stuff as well as the latest hard core dance music from countries like Ghana, Angola, Nigeria, Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo. Let's listen to the good man himself telling more about his label:

Global Bass : interview with Benjamin Lebrave/Akwaaba music from Videomit on Vimeo.

This January Akwaaba Music is celebrating its 2nd birthday! And therefor they're treating us to a special compilation of 50 songs they've released so far: Chop Our Music. You can buy it for just $10 (that's just €7.35 or £6.30) over at Bandcamp! And this is one of my favorite tracks on it:

DJ Djeff - Elegom Bounsa feat. Maskarado (Main Mix). Get it here (YSI). But I really urge you to buy it as 50% of the proceeds goes directly to the artist! Yes yes, Akwaaba Music is a 'fair trade' label :-)

The cherry on top of their birthday cake is a FREE hour long supermix by
DJ Zhao
(download it by clicking on the arrow on the right). It gives you a good taste of the music that's being released by Akwaaba. I personally really enjoy the latter part where the tempo goes up hehe.

Djzhao - ChopChop Akwaaba Supermix by Akwaaba Music

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Fabulous Faces

Puberty. It seems so long ago for me, luckily I get to be in touch with that old feeling on a regular base.

These past two months I got in touch by developing and teaching a nine week 'artshot' at
Zadkine, a vocational school in Rotterdam. Which basically meant that I had to create portraits with a group of twenty reluctant teens and young adults that really don't want to be there. But they have to be, or they will not get their much needed certificate and points. Keep in mind that none of them take (or have ever taken) artclasses, and hardly anyone had ever been to a museum!!

In reality we had a really good time. We played our favorite tunes every time we got together, and they got to bring their own Ipods and Iphones and they made some really great stuff while we listened to some raggaeton, Drake,
kuduro and more reggaeton. Today was the day of the presentation and up to just now I hadn't seen their final projects. But I'm kinda proud.

I want to share with you some of the highlights, take a look!!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

New Orleans Doll

You know how you start out surfing the web with a particular goal and with in no time you're totally sidetracked and end up god knows where. This is exactly what happened to me last night. I was looking for a large but still handsome and stylish rucksack (quite a quest I can tell you) when I found some very strange and somewhat disturbing pictures on some sort of 'life style' blog...

The pictures were of New Orleans singer Ernie K-Doe. Now Ernie made some great tunes in the early '60s, with and without the legendary artist/producer/songwriter Allen Toussaint. His biggest hit was Mother In Law. Probably lots of people could relate to the lyrics "
The worst person I know / Mother-in law, mother-in law... Satan should be her name / Mother-in law, mother-in law...". Other songs, like Here Come The Girls and Certain Girl are absolute stompers! I never knew much about Ernie besides the fact that he was a great singer and I absolutely loved these songs. But after seeing these pictures I became curious. Turns out this guy was quite a character!

Ernie at the beginning of his career (please note this is not one of THE pictures I was talking about).

After his success in the '60s and some flops in the early '70s Ernie developed an alcohol problem. But he managed to turn his life around in the '80s when he got a radio show. It was pretty popular, thanks to his "explosively energetic announcements and frequent self promotion", calling himself "Emperor of The World" and “the Greatest Boy-Child ever conceived at Charity Hospital in New Orleans”.

In the '90s he and his wife opened up a bar in New Orleans and called it the Mother In Law Lounge. Ernie sang his greatest hits on Mondays and his wife Antoinette would serve soul food. Sadly Ernie died in 2001 of liver and kidney failure. Antoinette continued running the Lounge and she turned it into a shrine for her late husband. She even had a MANNEQUIN of Ernie made! It would sit in the bar somewhere and it would regularly change outfits. So here come the slightly weird pictures I was referring to:

Ernie the doll. On the last two picture with his wife.. euh widow Antoinette.
And Usher.

The doll even ran for mayor of New Orleans in 2006!

During Mardi Gras 2009 Antoinette passed away. Their daughter kept the bar going for some time, but she closed it in June last year after a car drove in and crashed the place..
What a pity!! From what I read it must have been a great place! She sold a lot of the paraphernalia and fixtures of the bar at a garage sale. I sure hope she kept the mannequin!

"The Emperor is dead. Long live the Emperor!"

Ernie K-Doe - Here Come The Girls. Get it here (YSI).

Ernie K-Doe - Certain Girl. Get it here (YSI).

Saturday, 15 January 2011

I'm at Winterwolven B*tch!

Last Saturday was the first edition of Winterwolven Performance Party in Rotterdam, an event organised by Rotterdams finest: Maatschappij voor Volksgeluk, Bond voor Wilde Dansers and last but not least: We own Rotterdam.

The whole idea was to put together a night with music and performance art that was supposed to be inspirational but most of all... FUN. And fun it was!!

We were expected at the venue (Roodkapje/Rot(t)terdam/Beatburger)at 20.00 to set everything up, have some food and get dressed. This seemed a bit early (the party started at 23.30), but this point in time miraculously happened to coincide with the first dry moment of the day. So we quickly wheeled Blanche over so she and our hairdo's would not be harmed by the rain. When we got there the place was already looking rather amazing with big inflatable objects hanging from the ceiling, projections everywhere and a lot of people carrying crazy costumes. When we finally put all the cables where they should be (this can take forever because something always seems to malfunction) we decided to take our nerves downstairs, into the dressing room. The things we saw while we were there will remain a secret....

When it was finally time to start playing it seemed like people came falling from the sky or something. All of a sudden the place was packed and outside was a line of people, HUGE! As we were not able to win this war of bass that was going on inside, we decided to take Blanche outside... to party with the queue! People had to wait for 45 minutes to get in, so our tunes were much appreciated. Pretty soon all the costumed people came outside with their megaphones and started grinding in the street, and even passer-by's (?) stopped and partied with us! Now there was a party inside as well as outside and we just kept going and dancing... till the cops came. At two o'clock. Being quite hostile and all, you know how cops get.. not recognizing the coolness of a soundsystem on a rollator. Do they ever have fun? After that we just partied some more without Blanche!

Take a look at these awesome pictures taken by Boudewijn Bollmann who documented all the fun inside.

We played everything that night; from Sidney Samson to Ms. Dynamite to Mr. Vegas. But this is the top 3 tracks that (we all love hits) made EVERYBODY dance!

3: Rihanna feat. Jeezy - Hard (Jody Den Broeder radio edit).

Get it here (YSI).

2: Das Racist - Combination Pizza Hut And Taco Bell (Wallpaper RMX).

Get it here (YSI).

1: LMFAO feat. Pitbull - I'm in Miami Bitch.

Get it here (YSI).

Friday, 7 January 2011

The Old North

As you may know I travel quite a bit between Cardiff and Rotterdam. Roughly once a month I fly over to the Lowlands to work together with my Dutch Dolls-colleague. I usually crash at her place, or I catsit for a friend who goes on holiday a lot. They both happen to live in what is rapidly becoming the funkiest area of Rotterdam: "Het Oude Noorden" ("The Old North").

Now I used to be a
Westside girl (for years I lived in notorious Spangen) and swore West was the best. I never liked "The Old North" very much, with its dark narrow streets and boarded up houses. But the dark days are over. Every time I take tram number 4 or 8 from Central Station towards my temporary home I notice new eateries, new shops and new artist studios. Here are just a few of the gems that spawned here recently.

☝ Mother and daughter run Lof der Zoetheid, a shop and cafe located at Noordplein 1. They serve breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea, and they do catering as well. You can buy beautiful '
afternoon tea boxes', filled with yummie stuff and a special afternoon tea, for you to take home (or you can make yourself immortal by giving this to someone else).

Westerkaatje. This
traiteur is an institute in Rotterdam, and in October they opened up a new restaurant at Benthuizerstraat 60-D. A first sign of gentrification??

Cafe De Bel, Gerard Scholtenstraat 61b, is a
dive that looks like its been there for ever, but only recently it became VERY fashionable to go here. It's even been dubbed "De Rotown van Noord". It is rumored that with every wodka you order you get a free bag of crisps! Every time I arrive in Rotterdam the first thing I shout is "I want to go to De Bel!", but for some reason it never happens. But this week I want to go to De Bel FOR REAL!!!

☝ For 60s lamps and furniture, 70s ceramics, weird 80s objects and art go to Spam (Zwaanshals 243a). There are also plenty of second hand (book)/antique shops in the area, and today I even spotted a
charity shop on the Zaagmolenstraat!

☝ More and more empty stores are turned into studio spaces by artist, designers and party organizers, who double their work space as a shop. Take Maatschappij Voor Volksgeluk on the
Benthuizerstraat for example. 19 artists are united in a former fire station "Center of applied arts" Rotabs at Zaagmolenkade 46. They also host events and there's a shop.

Nice opportunities to explore the area are festivals like the Swan Market and Route du Nord. Swan Market saw its first edition last month, and another one is scheduled for
March 6! At this 'lifestyle market' designers sell their products in empty shops in the 'Zwaanshalsgebied'. Route du Nord takes place in June I believe. Artists open up their studios and all sorts of happenings, readings and shows take place.

☝ On my last ride on
tram 4 I noticed the prison complex on the Noordsingel (pictured above) has closed and is now FOR SALE. Very curious to see what will happen to this HUGE complex. Think of the opportunities! A couple of years ago two friends of mine paid homage to this prison with this ukelele version - in Dutch - of Folsom Prison Blues. I think it's utterly brilliant!

De Wisselende Contacten - Noordsingel Blues. Get it here (YSI).

Johnny Cash – Folsom Prison Blues. Get it here (YSI).

Oh and I probably missed loads of places, so please leave comments and suggestions on The Old North!