Globalquerque, Part I

by wjw on September 22, 2014

This highlight of the weekend was Albuquerque’s world music festival, Globalquerque, held in the Mayan pyramid-shaped Hispanic Cultural Center.   Three stages running simultaneously, along with a food area offering ethnic fast food, craft beer, and arts and crafts.

Since three bands were playing simultaneously, I wasn’t able to catch them all, but I got a taste of most of them, along with the craft beer and what they call döner in Turkey and gyros in Greece, except these were from an Egyptian cafe, and I don’t know what they call it in Egypt.

First up on the big outdoor stage was the French band Lo’jo, an eclectic outfit with influences ranging from Morocco, the Maghreb, klezmer, gypsy, and French popular music.  Despite expert playing, but I never quite warmed up to them, which was probably my fault rather than theirs.

It only took me about ten seconds to warm up to Rey Vallenato Beto Jamaica, who is not from Jamaica but from Colombia.  His name is Beto Jamaica, whereas Rey Vallenato is his title.  He is the King of Vallenato, which is a rocking’ folk rhythm, and his band filled up the dance floor more or less instantly, and there followed a very hot and sweaty hour.  Beto also closed out the festival the next night, and the audience response was no less enthusiastic.

This is the best video I could find, and features a cumbia (a Colombian dance), though it doesn’t quite do justice to his live show, with its massive wall of sound and ferocious attack and frenzied audience.  (In fact I think they were a little amazed by the frenzy of the audience: they hadn’t had that reaction anywhere else in the States.)

After Beto, I caught a couple songs from Ghana’s Rocky Dawuni, a very impressive character who seems to be something like eight feet tall.   He sang reggae, which I didn’t know was big in Ghana.  As I’m not a huge reggae fan, I moved on.

I slipped away to view catch a couple tunes from a New Mexico mariachi band, Los Primos, who were backing singer Lenore Armijo.  Their set seemed quite traditional and included “Cielito Lindo,” which gave me a chance to waltz.

Here’s a piece of their actual performance at Globalquerque, in the intimate setting of the little courtyard.

I thereafter hustled on to see Liu Fang, modern master of the pi’pa.  I know nothing about the pi’pa or Chinese classical music, but Liu’s passion was so evident that I stayed riveted to the end of her performance.


I didn’t get to hear nearly enough of Los Texmaniacs, a slightly deranged conjunto outfit, because I wanted to see Dva, a brother-sister duo from the Czech Republic.  Their act was probably the oddest I saw at the festival, though if you’ve ever seen entertainment from the Czech Republic, you know they’re pretty much in the mainstream.

I only caught a little of Dva, because I needed to dash off to see the legendary Calypso Rose backed by Kobo Town.  Kobo Town is a calypso band from Toronto, composed of former Trinidadians, and they’re damn good.

Kobo Town took up the first half of the show, and then the famous lady came out to sing. wearing what looked like a set of colorful green pajamas.

Calypso/soca is a musical form that features a lot of satire and political commentary, most of which doesn’t manage to cross the water to American releases.  Maybe the record companies think it’s too provincial, or maybe they just don’t like political commentary.  But in its homeland, calypsonians have actual political clout: Trinidad is a sufficiently small country that if a song about some issue tops the charts, politicians get the message.  Thus Calypso Rose can take credit for writing the song that resulted in a minimum wage of $1200/month for domestic workers.  And she also felt free to record her emotion at the sight of Ethiopian Jewish children disembarking from their rescue flight at Tel Aviv.

Here she is with one of her big hits, “Fire Fire.”

The reaction of the audience was, umm, extreme.  There was much jumping up and down.  Trinidadian flags were waved.  Lines of dancers snaked through the crowd.  By the end of the concert I was breathless, and stars were flashing before my eyes.  I think the air conditioning had totally failed.

I staggered out to the Plaza Mayor for a gasp of night air, and found there the Afro-Cuban All Stars, who were closing out the night’s fun.  I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t a bunch of guys in shiny gray suits and ties, along with some women in what I can only describe as white prom dresses.

But their music speaks for itself, and here’s a sample.  Minus the suits and dresses, unfortunately.

And ladies and gentleman, that was only the first night.

Part II shortly.


Newly Available

by wjw on September 19, 2014

A brief announcement before I get to the actual subject of this post.  Angel Station and The Rift are now available on iBooks.  There had been some kind of technical issue with Smashwords until I got my very own iBooks account, and now the technical issues don’t exist.  Nothing like do-it-yourself.  The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories, however, is totally plagued with technical issues, even though these issues don’t seem to exist with any other vendor.  Go figure.

awkbot-banner-for-gumroadBut that’s not my actual announcement, which has to do with an anthology you completely need to check out.  The Clarion Class of 2012 has put together a collection to benefit the Clarion Workshop.  There’s no list price, you can pay whatever you want.

Now I call that fair!

Now I happened to teach at the 2012 Clarion, and I was profoundly impressed by the students’  raw ability, both individually and collectively.  And I’m not alone in this opinion: the anthology includes the much-published Sam J Miller, who’s won the Shirley Jackson Award; Carmen Maria Machado, who not only sold a story while still at Clarion, but who is a Millay Colony Fellow and a winner of the Richard Yates Short Story Prize; and the Octavia Butler Scholar Lisa Bolekaja.

So, y’know, an impressive crew.  Check it out, you’ll be glad you did.



by wjw on September 18, 2014

I’ve been spending long hours updating my web page, which is the sort of task that makes me wish I had an assistant— at least to handle the foul language, because that’s the most repetitive part of the process.

While I continue to wrestle WordPress into submission, please enjoy this composite picture of the solar eclipse I viewed back in November of 2012.  I tried to upload this photo then, but the ship was having such bandwidth problems that uploading anything but mere text proved impossible.

Please enjoy, belated though that enjoyment might be.




The Redcoats Are Silly!

by wjw on September 17, 2014

Some poor Grenadier Guardsman is in trouble for, well, this.  And all he was trying to do was make his job less boring.  And maybe do a wee little hommage to John Cleese.

You’ve got to hope his officers are at least as tolerant as those fellows in Norway.



Ticking, Ever Ticking

by wjw on September 17, 2014

My 99-cent sale for Metropolitan ends midnight on Wednesday, so if you haven’t yet got a copy, check out  AmazonKoboBarnes & NobleiBooks, and Smashwords.  (Actually I may delay a bit, because there’s a late run at Smashwords, with the book running off the shelves ever since Saturday night.  I assume someone said something nice about the book somewhere online, but I don’t know who, or where . . . so if you’re responsible, you have my thanks.)

The book got to #168 at Amazon, broke the top fifty at Barnes & Noble, and was #12 at Kobo.  So . . . yay!

Thank you all for making the purchases, and for spreading the word.


On Its Way

September 11, 2014

A fine piece of art by John Picacio, for a story scheduled to appear on in November. Pity about the spelling of my name, though.

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For the City that Girdles the World, a Mere 99 Cents!

September 10, 2014

The ebook of my novel Metropolitan is on sale for the next week for a mere 99 cents! 99 cents for a novel about the city that covers the world!  How can you possibly resist this deal? I’ve previously made a whole series of posts about the book, which I won’t repeat now, but which you […]

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I am NPR’d

September 10, 2014

Last week NPR ran a piece on the Hachette-Amazon controversy, and I was one of the authors interviewed.  The interview ran for about an hour, but the piece as aired cut my contribution down to three sentences.  (This is two sentences longer than my usual quote on national media.) I was told that I’d be […]

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September 9, 2014

So right now I want to go all Andy Rooney on the subject of armpits. I recently went to a drugstore to get myself some stick deodorant.  You know, the containers that allow you to stuff aluminum into your armpits, so that people around you won’t faint if you’re stuck in crowded elevator. I like […]

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September 6, 2014

Cuties in flouncy skirts mixing J-pop and heavy metal in front of a giant statue of Kuan Yin. And yes, mixed message is the point.  [via Oz]  

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