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Michal Shapiro
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Michal Shapiro is a videographer, musician, music journalist and record producer. She blogs regularly about music and musicians near and far.

Entries by Michal Shapiro

Folk Chamber Music: Sam Lee at GlobalFEST (Video)

(0) Comments | Posted March 24, 2015 | 8:18 AM

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I had heard great things about Sam Lee's performance at WOMEX 2012. (I missed it for reasons too boring to go into.) So I was determined to catch his set at GlobalFEST. He went on right after the PA crashed during Emel Mathlouthi's...

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When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Keep Singing (2 videos)

(1) Comments | Posted February 19, 2015 | 12:35 PM

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It took over an hour for the sound check. Now you've got a full house enraptured by your music. You're going full throttle, the audience is totally with you, and then--
No amplification. Nada.

I present to you two performances I captured,...

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A Love Song for a Whale (video)

(0) Comments | Posted February 9, 2015 | 6:32 AM

As Kathryn Roberts explains in this video, she has a thing for whales and always wanted to sing a song about one. But she did not want to sing a traditional whaling song, in which the subject is generally the dangers or hardships of hunting them.

I will leave...

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Iberian Variations: Opening Night at WOMEX (video)

(2) Comments | Posted January 7, 2015 | 10:01 AM

Note: I am presenting over half an hour of music in this video so if you wish to skip around in it, I have provided the time code for the beginnings of each segment.

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This past WOMEX was held in Santiago de Compostela...

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A Carol for Our Times: The Melrose Quartet Perform 'Sing John Ball' (VIDEO)

(2) Comments | Posted November 30, 2014 | 6:25 AM

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As a music journalist it may seem out of place to bring up the socio-political issues of the day. But in the music that I have recently covered at the English Folk Expo, I found this song whose words and music stir me,...

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The Cold Fury of Jealousy: Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker At Homegrown Festival and EFEx

(0) Comments | Posted November 6, 2014 | 6:18 PM

THE COLD FURY OF JEALOUSY: Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker At Homegrown Festival and EFEx from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

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I'd go back if I could
Take you down and bury you in the woods
Steal your past and erase it if I could
Don't think I wouldn't, I would

For how dare you love anyone but me
How could you love anyone but me

Like a captive I would keep you chained
Keep every moment in every single day
And every person who's ever meant a thing to you
I'd erase them that's what I would do

For how dare you love anyone but me
How could you love anyone but me

And this madness, what am I thinking of?
So destructive for my love
I'm a coward and I'm trying not scream
"Oh you traitor what have you done to me"

How dare you love anyone but me
How could you love anyone but me

And I've seen you, laughing in the light
I see it over and over every night
And it's torture to think of you with her instead
And it hurts no less for being only in my head

How dare you love anyone but me
How could you love anyone but me

......Yes, she has a beautiful voice. Yes, it's wonderfully played. But this song is such a totally honest and riveting expression of bare naked jealousy and speaks so directly (as sometimes only folk music can) that I knew as soon as I heard it that it would be my favorite tune in the set.
'Nuff said.

For more about the artists visit: josienneclarke.co.uk/
For more of Michal's music videos:...

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Show of Hands Plays The Best Halloween Song I Have Ever Heard (video)

(0) Comments | Posted October 30, 2014 | 2:35 PM

Show of Hands Plays The Best Halloween Song I Have Ever Heard from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

"Go light the lantern at your door
And honour those who've gone before
The worlds that part us now are twain
For Hallow's Eve is here again."

A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of attending the English Folk Expo or EFEx. (And I'll be posting a LOT about EFEx and the artists later!)

Although I love English folk music, I had never heard of a single artist that performed during those three intensive days. The level of musicianship was amazingly high, and certainly one of the most memorable performances was by the knockout power trio Show of Hands, who packed the spacious Drill Hall in the Castle Armory. This song immediately struck me as one I wanted to share right away as Halloween approaches. It's called "Hallow's Eve" and was written by Chris Hoban, a music teacher and friend of the band from their hometown of Topsham in Devon.

It describes a holiday that is a far cry from the Halloween we now "celebrate." I have no problem with children dressing up and going door to door asking for sweets. I do have misgivings about forgetting the true, older spirit of the holiday, which is much closer to the Day of the Dead; in which the souls of our forebears are able to communicate with us, and we with them.

As this song states it is a time of both joy and reflection, as the fruits of harvest are gathered in, we await the harshness of winter, and we contemplate the cycles of the seasons and our lives.

So when you place that candle in your Jack o' Lantern this year, maybe think of it as more than just a smiley-face carved in a pumpkin. Take a moment and "honour those who've gone before."


For more information about Show of Hands visit: http://www.showofhands.co.uk/
For more information about the EFEx visit: http://www.englishfolkexpo.com/
For more of Michal's world music videos visit:...

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Czech's Mix Part 3: Clarinet Factory (VIDEO)

(0) Comments | Posted October 4, 2014 | 5:01 PM

Czech's Mix Part 3: Clarinet Factory from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

One of the surprising performances at the Crossroads Festival (part of the Colours of Ostrava Festival) in Czech Republic, was from the ensemble called the Clarinet Factory. Made up of heavily classically credentialed players, they made music that was seductive to the ear. Although they had a screen behind them that was presumably showing images to amuse the eye, I found it to be superfluous; the music was more than enough to keep my mind from wandering. Like vocal groups comprised of siblings who have an uncanny blend, the various registers of clarinets produced a similar kind of ear candy. And from the classical training all of these men have, they have derived a great sense of time and tone. I don't know if I would have been quite as enchanted with them if it were not for the angelic singing of Vojtěch Nýdl. His sweet tenor floated beautifully above the closely meshed timbres of the ensemble.

For more information about Clarinet Factory visit:
clarinet-factory.cz/en/

To see another vocal from the Clarinet Factory, visit...

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Czech's Mix Part 2: Singing in Tongues (Video)

(0) Comments | Posted September 29, 2014 | 12:23 PM

In my last vlog, I spotlighted the folk performers at the Crossroads Festival (Part of the Colours of Ostrava Festival) in Czech Republic. This time around, I'm covering two very different bands that I had previously known about through their striking videos.

I first became acquainted with...

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At the Izmir Jazz Festival: Exploring the Connections Between Turkish and Polish Music

(0) Comments | Posted September 8, 2014 | 12:09 PM

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A few years ago I discovered the music of the Janusz Prusinowski Trio, and it led to an invitation to the very exciting Mazurka Festival that they organize in Warsaw every year. I had no idea, however, that it would eventually...

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Czech's Mix: Crossroads Festival in Ostrava Part 1 (video)

(1) Comments | Posted September 5, 2014 | 8:34 AM

The massive Colours of Ostrava Festival books major (and less major) acts from the world over. This year, there was a special opening night entitled "Crossroads" dedicated solely to currents in Czech music. Bands of every stripe were selected, from Jazz influenced Free Improv, to Folk, to Things Uncategorizable, but...

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Small Islands, Big Music: Report From the AME at Cabo Verde

(0) Comments | Posted August 6, 2014 | 12:12 PM

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For 20 years, the World Music Expo (WOMEX) has been the premiere European destination for targeted world music marketing. But realizing that the concept needs to go truly global WOMEX has been teaming up with other organizations world wide, and collaborating on similar...

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Big Music from Small Places: Maya Kamaty at AME (Video)

(0) Comments | Posted June 4, 2014 | 3:53 PM

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My previous post on Cape Verdean Singer Neuza, resulted in a trip to the AME, The Atlantic Music Expo in Cape Verde. As impressive as the local talent was, there were plenty of great acts drawing from the environs. I'm working on a...

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Habib Koite: A West African Fête at the City Winery (VIDEO)

(0) Comments | Posted April 18, 2014 | 1:51 PM

Habib Koite, one of Mali's most beloved singer/guitarists was in town last month to promote his new CD "Soô" on Contre Jour Records. He packed NYC's City Winery with a polyglot audience, which included a hefty West African compliment.

Koité is a seasoned performer, and everyone on stage...

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From Another Green Isle: Cape Verde's Neuza at SOB's (VIDEO)

(0) Comments | Posted February 26, 2014 | 12:25 PM

If we know anything of Cape Verdean music, it is largely due to the efforts of one man: Jose DaSilva, founder of the Lusafrica label, and producer of the late great Cesaria Evora.

Since that diva's death, there have been many singers touted as having "inherited the mantle of Cesaria...

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Magic From Crete: The Stelios Petrakis Quartet at WOMEX 2013 (video)

(0) Comments | Posted January 6, 2014 | 12:12 PM

"Will you LOOK at the size of that Bass Lyra!!"
--Jeff Greene, delegate to WOMEX, and president of Evergreene Music, upon seeing the setup on the stage for the Stelios Petrakis Quartet.

First off, all the instruments you see being played in this video were made by Mr. Petrakis,...

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Amira Sings Balkan Sevdah at WOMEX 2013 (Video)

(0) Comments | Posted December 16, 2013 | 12:24 PM

Sevdah, or Sevdalinka, is a folk song form common throughout the former Yugoslavia, and has origins tracing back to Ottoman times, particularly in Bosnia. These songs have been handed down, over the five centuries, and are still a part of the culture of the area, and of late, new interpretations...

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Canadian Heat: The April Verch Band at WOMEX 2013 (VIDEO)

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2013 | 2:41 PM

Canadian Heat: The April Verch band at WOMEX 2013 from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

If I didn't tell you up front that April Verch and her band are playing from the musical heritage of the Ottawa Valley, you might assume that she is from the American South, or Appalachia, or even New England. The music seems so familiar; part bluegrass, part old timey, part contradance. And as she herself said of her dancing during her concert: "This music originated in the lumber camps. And a lot of people when they see this, they recognize a lot of different dance styles; Irish hardshoe, French Canadian, even clogging or flatfooting... tap dancing in more recent years... if you see any of these dances you're probably right, there's bits and pieces of everything." What this goes to show is that Canada, as much as the United States, is a country built from immigrants, and each ethnicity has brought something to the musical mix. And we hear and see those influences and recognize them right away.

Verch is a wonderful fiddler. She has a rich tone, and a great bowing arm, and a smile that never quits when she plays. She is obviously enjoying herself tremendously. And when she started dancing, she lifted the highly critical WOMEX audience right out of their seats. One of the photographers there confided to me that he was exhausted, just from watching her... but in a good way. As for her dancing, it is polished, exciting, and delivered with that same grin. No wonder her management was mobbed afterwards.

Please make sure to watch this video all the way through, as otherwise you may miss Ms. Verch playing AND dancing simultaneously. She credits the late great John Hartford with inspiring her, and that is easy to see. Her backup band consists of Cody Walters on banjo and bass, and Hayes Griffin on guitar -- and they all sing.

To contact April:

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Two Harps That Beat As One: Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita (VIDEO)

(0) Comments | Posted November 20, 2013 | 7:30 AM

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Almost 25 years ago, I was walking down West 4th street in Manhattan, and heard a harp-like sound that seemed extraordinarily out of place in the urban noise surrounding me. I tried to locate the source, and eventually realized it was...

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A Siren Song From the Emily Portman Trio (VIDEO)

(0) Comments | Posted November 13, 2013 | 2:48 PM

My deep love for British folk music stems back to my first Young Tradition albums, which landed in the USA and immediately made waves in the folk community here. Although there will always be musical mingling along borders, I still find that Britfolk is distinctive from Celtic music. I will...

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