Latest Articles


Salif Keita | La Différence

If you don't speak Malian French, you might not grasp that this is a concept album about separatism and the triumph of the human spirit inspired by Keita's experiences growing up as an albino outcast in his native land. But that doesn't matter.
Emarcy (2010)
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  June 18, 2010

Excerpt: Evening’s Empire by BIll Flanagan

In this chapter, "The Drugs Don't Work," aging rock star Emerson Cutler and his manager, Jack Flynn, are seeking inspiration — and desperately trying to jumpstart his career.
An excerpt from Bill Flanagan’s new novel, Evening’s Empire , the true story of a band that never existed
By BILL FLANAGAN  |  February 05, 2010

Vampire Weekend | Contra

There are a few words I did not expect to use in describing Vampire Weekend's second album. Paul-Simony-er is one of them.
XL (2010)
By MICHAEL BRODEUR  |  January 08, 2010

2009: The top 10 in pop music

Hmm, lots of women, a few old dudes, and some African banjo (not to be confused with Steve Martin's Hollywood banjo).
Music you need to own
By JIM MACNIE  |  December 25, 2009

Group hug

Things aren’t always what they’re called — we know that flying fish don’t fly and starfish aren’t even fish.
The crooked folk of Cuddle Magic
By JONATHAN DONALDSON  |  December 18, 2009

Crossword: ''Initial reaction''

Letters, not words
Letters, not words
By MATT JONES  |  November 27, 2009

Providence Fall Preview Listings 2009

A page of listings for local music, theater, art, festivals and more this fall.
Music, theater, art, festivals and more in the coming months
By PHOENIX STAFF  |  September 18, 2009

Review: Throw Down Your Heart

Hip-hop, funk, and jazz artists are not the only cats who trace creative roots to Africa. So do such banjo-plucking white boys as Béla Fleck.
Magical mystery tour
By CHRIS FARAONE  |  July 10, 2009

Vieux Farka Touré | Fondo

On his extraordinary homonymous 2007 debut, Vieux Farka Touré both paid tribute to his late, legendary father, Malian guitar icon Ali Farka Touré, and began to distance himself from that heritage.
Six Degrees (2009)
By JEFF TAMARKIN  |  May 15, 2009

Bruce Cockburn | Slice o Life: Bruce Cockburn Live Solo

This two-disc live set — just Bruce Cockburn and his guitars — may qualify as his one indispensable offering.
Rounder (2009)
By BANNING EYRE  |  March 30, 2009

Griot act

Some albums are extraordinary because they capture their time. Others are great because they transcend it.
Rokia Traoré breaks through with Tchamantché
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  February 09, 2009


Sizzling frost

The winter dance season starts out promoting international coexistence.
Dance heat 2009
By DEBRA CASH  |  December 29, 2008

The Big Hurt: The year in not really giving a shit

In the annals of American pop history, 2008 will surely go down as a year when our nation had more-important shit to worry about than music.
Maybe next year, music
By DAVID THORPE  |  December 23, 2008

Crossword: ''Hidden strength''

Yes, we can solve this puzzle
By MATT JONES  |  November 26, 2008

Under African Skies

“Awesome Tapes from Africa” — the name says it all.
Awesome Tapes from Africa
By SUSANNA BOLLE  |  October 27, 2008

World party

In its fifth year, FirstWorks Festival 2008 has grown to be a culturally diverse showcase, distinctly international in flavor, with an array of theater and family entertainment.  
Fresh fare at the FirstWorks Festival
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  October 01, 2008


Dance in fall

This fall’s offerings of dance performances have an international flavor, as well as featuring the talents of Rhody-grown dance groups.
Must-see moves
By JOHNETTE RODRIGUEZ  |  September 10, 2008

Divine service

Oscar Mokeme is the Director of Portland Maine’s Museum of African Culture, which he co-founded in 1998 with Hannaford executive and collector Arthur Aleshire.
An interview with Oscar Mokeme
By IAN PAIGE  |  July 31, 2008

Fortunate one

It was no surprise to find Chris Brokaw in Hawaii last week, just two Saturdays before he’s due back in Cambridge to pull a double shift upstairs at the Middle East.
Chris Brokaw is booked solid
By MATT ASHARE  |  July 07, 2008

Rite of darkness

Le Sacre du Printemps , with 14 dancers hailing from Senegal, Togo, Benin, Mali, Nigeria, and Mozambique, takes on black-on-black violence .
Heddy Maalem’s Sacre
By DEBRA CASH  |  July 02, 2008

Shaping the Crescent

Even before Katrina wreaked its havoc on New Orleans, a popular T-shirt proclaimed the city “Third World and Proud of It,” and numerous more-literary types have long referred to it as the “northernmost Caribbean city.”
The making of New Orleans
By CLEA SIMON  |  April 29, 2008


Awesome tapes from Africa

The music runs the gamut from Ghanaian gospel to Nigerian highlife, dulcet Malian folk to polished Kenyan hip-hop.

Sometimes the name says it all

By SUSANNA BOLLE  |  January 07, 2008

Middle man

As Senegal’s pre-eminent pop singer, Youssou N’Dour has mastered the art of pleasing diverse audiences.
Youssou N’Dour bridges the gap
By BANNING EYRE  |  November 19, 2007

Habib Koité and Bamada

That and his velvet voice complement the introspective mood here.
Afriki | Cumbancha
By BANNING EYRE  |  October 15, 2007

Arabian nights

Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues was frank — nay, explicit — in its exploration of women’s sexuality.
Roosen's monologues considers sex beneath the veil
By SALLY CRAGIN  |  October 09, 2007


With their third CD, Tinariwen prove themselves the standard bearers of desert folk rock.
Aman Iman | Word Village
By TINARIWEN, AMAN IMAN  |  April 23, 2007


Salif Keita

Mali’s most celebrated singer, Salif Keita, has long been a musical shape shifter.
M'Bemba | Decca
By BANNING EYRE  |  April 03, 2007

Symmetric unities

Toumani Diabaté is not just on tour, he’s on a mission.
Toumani Diabaté, Somerville Theater, March 29, 2007
By DAMON KRUKOWSKI  |  April 03, 2007

London falling

Damon Albarn — Blur frontman, Gorillaz supremo, and now millennial minstrel to the drowning city of London — is that eerie modern specimen, the pop star who talks like a critic. The Good, The Bad, and the Queen, "Kingdom of Doom" (streaming video)
Damon Albarn’s The Good, the Bad & the Queen
By JAMES PARKER  |  February 21, 2007

Bloodless diamonds

If the Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle Blood Diamond gets remembered for anything, it would be for the attention it’s drawn to the injustice that has risen alongside globalization in Africa.
Non-violence and rationality reign in the MFA’s ‘African Cinema’
By BRETT MICHEL  |  February 14, 2007