Throwback: Happy Belated 55th Birthday, Montell Jordan!

JOVM’s William Ruben Helms belatedly celebrates Montell Jordan’s 55th birthday.

Larry & Joe is an acclaimed folk duo that performs a unique fusion of Venezuelan and Appalachian folk featuring harp, banjo, cuatro, fiddle, maracas, guitar, upright bass and whatever else they could fit in their tour van. The duo features:

  • Joe Troop, a North Carolina-based Grammy-nominated bluegrass and old-time musician, who spent over a decade in South America with his acclaimed “latingrass” band Che Apalache. With the pandemic, Troop got stranded in his old stomping grounds and as a result, his primary project was forced into hiatus. Troop shifted into action, working with asylum seeking migrants. 
  • Larry Bellorín, a Monagas, Venezuela-born, North Carolina-based Llanera music legend, and asylum-seeking migrant. Bellorín has worked various construction jobs to make ends meet, and writes and performs music in whatever spare time allowed.

Currently based in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, Troop and Bellorín are versatile multi-instrumentalists and singer/songwriters on a mission to prove that music has no borders and that music is the universal language. Their work is a distinct blend of their musical and cultural inheritances and traditions paired with storytelling about the ways that music and social movements coalesce. 

The duo’s latest single is an ebullient rendition of “Mi Burrito Sabanero,” one of the most beloved and oft-covered Latin holiday songs ever written. The duo’s rendition features a bilingual intro and break, and lyrics mostly sung in Spanish, as well as a playful and dexterous nod to “Here Comes Santa Claus” on the violin. The song also adds some instrumentation to the arrangement that aren’t on the most known versions — including banjo and others. “Mi Burrito Sabanero” further cements the duo’s boundary busting sound and approach rooted in a deep empathy, playfulness and a much-needed sweet, kindness, while offering something for everyone to enjoy.

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New Audio: JOVM Mainstay MAGON Shares Shimmering and Introspective “I Don’t Take You For Granted”

Over the past handful of years, I’ve managed to spill copious amounts of virtual ink covering the remarkably prolific Israeli-born singer/songwriter, musician and JOVM mainstay MAGON. Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site during that particular period, you might recall that shortly after the release of his fifth album,  A Night in Bethlehem, the Israeli-born artist, along with his partner and young daughter relocated to Costa Rica, where he continued an ongoing period of remarkable prolificacy with his sixth album, Did You Hear the Kids?

Did You Hear The Kids? featured what may arguably have been the broadest and most expansive sonic palette of any of his previously released work — and a collaboration with Paris-based indie duo SOS Citizen

The Isreali-born and now-Costa Rican-based artist’s seventh album, the recently released Chasing Dreams sees him collaborating with local indie rock outfit Las Robertas, who acted as his backing band for the recording sessions. Chasing Dreams sees the JOVM mainstay continuing a slow-burn expansion of his sound with the incorporation of string arrangements, which add a lushly cinematic and dreamy quality to the material.

In the lead-up to the album’s release, I wrote about two of the album’s previously released singles:

  • Album title track “Chasing Dreams,” a song built around strummed acoustic guitar, shimmering pedal steel and gentle drumming paired with Magon’s dreamily laconic delivery. “Chasing Dreams” seems indebted to Exile on Main Street-era Rolling Stones and Harvest-era Neil Young with some subtle nods to country and folk. Much like the material on his last two albums, “Chasing Dreams” is rooted in the sort of deep, heartfelt introspection informed by living a full, messy and well-lived life and getting older — with the song touching upon themes of maturation, love and enjoying cherished family and personal bonds while you have them.
  • Under the Sea,” a child-like lullaby that sounds a bit like Yellow Submarine and “Octopus Garden”– perhaps as a result of a lush, 60s psych rock-inspired arrangement performed by the JOVM mainstay and his new collaborators Las Robertas, and an unfussy production. But at its core, the song is rooted in the pure and whimsical sense of exploration and curiosity of childhood.

“I Don’t Take You For Granted,” Chasing Dreams‘ third and latest single is a lush and introspective bit of psych rock/psych folk built around glistening, finger-plucked guitar, shimmering and cinematic strings and gently padded drumming paired with the JOVM mainstay’s laconic delivery. Much like its predecessors, “I Don’t Take You For Granted” is rooted in the same introspective, deeply lived-in lyrics that reflect a hard-earner, harder-won maturity and a contented sigh of recognition that adult love is so very difficult to find and harder to keep.

Deriving their name from the Nahuatl word for The Mockingbirds, the Richmond, CA-based Los Cenzontles (pronounced senn-SONT-less) — is an acclaimed touring and recording band and nonprofit cultural arts academy for kids. Over their three-plus decade history, the recording and touring outfit has dug deep into cultural traditions, creating a vibrant, contemporary sound infused with the gutsy soul of Mexico’s rural roots, releasing over 30 albums. 

The collective have supported those albums with tours across the US, Europe, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Mexico. And they’ve collaborated with an eclectic array of acclaimed, internationally recognized artists including The Chieftains, Los Lobos, Los Tigres del Norte, Ry Cooder, David Hidalgo, Linda Ronstadt, Taj Mahal and a lengthy list of others. 

Their core members also serve as the programming staff and teachers of Los Cenzontles Academy, where they have been passing on musical traditions to new generations and inviting their students to perform with them on stage and participate in production projects since 1994. 

Released earlier this year, the Richmond, CA-based outfit’s remarkable 33rd album Son Con Son, En el Suelo Americano sees the prolific collective collaborating with son jarocho masters Grupo Mono Blanco and Cuban cuatro master Kiki Valera to create material that meshes Cuban Son cubano with Son jarocho from the Mexican state of Veracruz. 

Over the past couple of months I’ve written about two album singles”

The Mono Blanco-penned “Matanga,” a virtuosic and shimmering mesh of Mexican folk and Cuban folk cultures built around an arrangement that features Cuban congas; Zapeteado de tarima, a percussive drum-like instrument that you tap your feet on; quijada, a percussive instrument made from the jawbone of a donkey, cow, horse or mule that’s cleaned of tissue and dried out, so that the loose teeth rattle when struck with a fist; jarocho jarana, an eight-stringed guitar-meets-mandolin-like instrument with the strings in five courses — usually arranged in two outer strings with three double-courses in between; requinto, a smaller, higher-pitched version of a guitar, and used throughout much of Latin America; cuatro cubano, another mandolin-meets-guitar-like instrument that can be single-stringed, double coursed or tripled coursed paired with Mano Blanco’s soulful delivery singing lyrics that tackle the universal themes of love and loss. 

“Matanga” was rooted in a unfussy production that captures remarkable musicianship and old-fashioned craftsmanship with the immediacy, familiarity and playfulness of a bunch of friends jamming together on the porch on a Sunday afternoon, playing the beloved old songs and finding something new every single time.

Como un Perro” is a slow-burning and shimmering ballad that meshes both Cuban and Mexican folk traditions that sounds like the salsa, meringue and bachata ballads.

Son Con Son, En el Suelo Americano‘s latest single “Sobre Una Tumba, Una Rumba” is a great old standard that sees the prolific Californians collaborating with Group Mono Blanco and Kiki Valera. The new single continues a remarkable run of material rooted in virtuosic and soulful playing, an unfussy yet clean production that captures an you’re-in-the-room immediacy while seamlessly meshing Cuban and Mexican folk traditions in a way that bring back fond memories of my own childhood here in Queens.

BLEUFEU is a Québec City-based event organizer and show promoter that presents festive and inspiring events, including the Festival d’été de Québec (FEQ), Toboggan — New Year’s Eve Celebrations and St-Roch XP, as well as hundreds of shows throughout the year at Impérial Bell and a new venue, which will be opening soon.

The BLEUFEU team recently announced the lineup for this year’s Toboggan — New Year’s Eve Celebrations, presented by SiriusXM. Held in the Grande Allée District, in the heart of the gorgeous and historic provincial capital, this year’s edition will take place between December 28, 2023 – December 31, 2023.

2023’s Toboggan gains a new election with the addition of a new stage at Place George V, the SiriusXM Cube, which will host festive electronic music nights between December 28, 2023 – December 30, 2023. The SiriusXM Cube is a must-faced stage that will allow attendees to see that stage’s performances from three sides, starting each day at 5:00pm.

December 28, 2023 will see Canadian duo Loud Luxury headlining, returning after headlining back in 2019. Montréal-based sensation GLOWZI and Québec-based DJ Derrick will complete the SiriusXM Cube’s first night.

December 29, 2023 will see French multi-platinum selling artist DJ Klingande, who has been a mainstay at the world’s major EDM festivals headlining. Montréal-born, Franco-Congolese, Afro House artist DJ Karaba and rising artist Millimetrik will complete the SiriusXM Cube’s second night.

December 30, 2023 will see Montréal-based electronic music pioneer High Klassified capping off the SiriusXM Cube’s final night.

The traditional New Year’s Eve show, which will take place at Place de l’Assemblée-Nationale between 8:00pm-12:30am will be headlined by Italian Grammy-nominated production outfit Meduza will bring in 2024 with a euphoric EDM set. Québecois artist La Diable à Cinq, Les Louanges and Mike Demero will complete the night’s wild party.

On-site, visitors can also enjoy the Winter Village, which will feature heated areas under tents and relaxation spaces to enhance the experience, starting at 1:00PM each day. (Believe me, from what I understand, those heated areas will be prime real estate for an outdoor festival in Québec in late December!)
And this is all 100% free for visitors to enjoy, making Toboggan a great destination to celebrate the last days of 2023.

“New Year’s celebrations hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Quebec. We are very pleased to offer these four festive evenings free of charge to the entire population in the heart of our beautiful city,” BLEUFEU’s CEO Nicolas Racine says.  “With each new edition, we aim to establish Toboggan as a must-attend event and showcase the potential of Quebec as the ultimate Nordic destination,” he adds.

“We are excited about the new stage at Place George V. It was high time to equip the event with a stage setup and production worthy of the EDM festival it has become. Performances by artists such as Loud Luxury or Klingande will take on a whole new dimension,” explains Louis Bellavance, VP Content and Artistic Direction at BLEUFEU.

Lastly, as a festival, Toboggan is environmentally conscious and seeks to reduce its ecological footprint. Among their many actions taken, the festival will soon be carbon-neutral, with the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the event being offset through Planetair. They also produce sustainable mobility through its communication campaigns, Additionally, the festival will warm attendees in an environmentally conscious fashion, by using eco-friendly logs in its outdoor fireplaces.

The festival also has come up with a Good Festivalgoer Guide, which is available on their homepage, and offers festival goers a series of green actions that they can do to minimize the ecological impact of their visit.