June 21 has been designated as World Music Day, a day the world celebrates the magical gift of music. It’s origins lie in France when, in 1976, American musician Joel Cohen, proposed an all-night music celebration to mark the beginning of the summer solstice and since then, it has become a worldwide phenomenon with over 32 countries worldwide having their own celebrations in their own way, regardless of the season.
It is a day of free music, where musicians - local and amateur - are allowed and encouraged to perform their music in public spaces without any restriction. Of course, in Mumbai we would have to pay entertainment tax (and shut down by 10 pm), but still, it’s a fabulous day to celebrate the spirit of music in all its forms.
This June 21, I host a special evening of unique performances organised by the Nagaland based Rattle And Hum Music Society who put together a stellar selection of folk and contemporary musicians every year in a different city. You might recall the first one I hosted in 2009 in Mumbai. So on this date, the Chowdiah Hall in Bangalore will resonate with frenetic rhythm and hard power chords. In my opinion, the only three-way path to an all-round music experience… if I may say so.
Here’s what you want on your iPod, recommends Luke Kenny
Ukelele Songs Eddie Vedder Universal
The lead singer of monumental grunge band, Pearl Jam gets around to putting out his second solo album (the first being Into The Wild, 2007) and it’s been a long wait. As the band celebrates its 20th anniversary, a subtle (heh) message is sent out with ukelele songs. True to its title, Eddie armed with a simple ukelele belts out songs of longing, loss and melancholic ramblings across a vast mental landscape. Had it not been for his rock star wattage attached to this effort, it would play as any amateur demo of scratch tracks. But it is Eddie who elevates it to what it is.
bottomline: Intimate and raw
Bon Iver Bon Iver 4ad Records
Singer-songwriter Justin Vernon is a solo artist on record with a stage name, but has a stellar band when he tours live. And this sophomore album is testimony to that. Bon Iver is a take on the French phrase Bon Hiver, which means ‘good winter’. And unlike his debut that was recorded in an isolated hunting cabin in the mountains, this one was recorded in a swimming pool. Idiosyncratic at times and symphonically progressive at others, this is a work of shimmering style and content. Some inspiring musical ideas float around in lush arrangements, waiting to sweep you under.
bottomline: Sink with this.
This Is Country Music Brad Paisley Sony Music
Although his choice of genre is country music, I would urge non-country music fans to listen to Brad Paisley - a superb musician, songwriter and guitar player, who has a great feel for tenderness within his songwriting. This is his eighth album in his ten-year career, yet his musical wisdom is one for the ages. Guest artists include legendary band Alabama, Carrie Underwood, Don Henley, Sheryl Crow and Blake Shelton. And in a great heart-felt tribute to western films and legends, Brad pays homage to Clint Eastwood with Clint himself whistling on the track. Coolness.
bottomline: This is the real thing
Give Till Its Gone Ben Harper Virgin Records
Here’s an intrinsically personal artist who wears his emotions on his sleeve and we get to hear it via his searing musicality, brooding poetry and simple verbosity. A style from an artist ten albums old, world travelled and seasoned. Yet somehow, it takes a few listens to get used to this one. And those listens are very rewarding let me tell you, so take the time to soak up this one, you will not be disappointed.
bottomline: Listen till it's yours.