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In Review: Globalquerque!

Anda Union
Courtesy ¡Globalquerque!
Anda Union

A Moment from day two at Globalquerque 2016,final set:

Those of us on the farthest right side edge of the audience in the Albuquerque Journal Theater last night witnessed a notable and magical "behind the scenes" glimpse of the international flavor and inter-generational composition of the ¡Globalquerque! performers community.

During the majority of the set of the remarkable Inner Mongolian group Anda Union, a five year old Mongolian girl, costumed in a regal, royal blue outfit, danced backstage in the wings, gently performing her careful footwork, body swaying and arms in motions while the adult members of the band masterfully entranced the room. For nearly an hour, we got to see this poised child practicing her craft, cradled by her extended artistic clan, while we took in the hypnotic and classically arranged musical pieces of Anda Union.

Just being in the presence of their instruments was transportative. Hand crafted modern versions of traditional Mongolian instruments that resembled cellos, stand up basses, flutes and violins were just a portion of the exotic instruments on display. Additionally, most of the players wore traditional Mongol plains costumes.

Their music ranged from full orchestral pieces to voice and throat-singing solos, to flute and throat-singing numbers. The packed auditorium was filled with an enthusiastic audiences treated to best that ¡Globalquerque! has to offer–a world assembly in a beautiful setting in the South Valley of Albuquerque.

Globalquerque is a community in the disguise of an international music festival. One enters and wanders the grounds, running into old friends and warmly welcomed by vendors in the eclectic bazaar and food cart area. Such quality purveyors as Jambo Café, the East African restaurant from Santa Fe, to the Vivac Winery, and the Santa Fe Brewing Company are but a few of the booths in The Global Village.

We got to sample a handful of the approximately 17 acts featured in this year’s fest. During dinner on Saturday evening, the Austrian brass band ensemble Federspiel was in mid-set on the main Plaza Mayor.

Federspiel is on a mission to redefine and modernize the Austrian folk tradition for current audiences. Their spirited set showcased their journey from earlier forms of Austrian folk styles into contemporary interpretations of a long standing approach to big band music. They also featured original compositions in their set packed with panache. Bravo!

Then we entered the Theater for an astounding experience, the music of Baladino from Israel. As we learned during their set, Baladino refers to the land and culture of the Sephardic Jews who populated Spain up until the 15th century, then migrated throughout Europe and the New World.

Their set was mesmerizing from the first notes. This 4 person band consists of a percussionist, a reed player, a mandolin-like instrument player and a vocalist. Early in their set, as the singer explained, they did a ballad about a bride being summoned by a wedding party to reveal herself to her groom. This atmospheric number showcased each performer to great effect, each of whom are ambassadors for Middle Eastern artistry.

this tune kicked the performance into a high gear they were to maintain for the remainder of their time onstage. At one point, the reed player was introduced as about to perform on a PVC-pipe-crafted instrument. He surprised and delighted the crowd as he hopped up and down, dancing while he played. The pulsing, and rhythmic prowess of Baladino delivered a wallop of world music while engendering admiration and enjoyment throughout the theater. Screams and yelps greeted the finale of their set.

It was also a treat to see all the members of Baladino hanging out on the grounds, visiting with people and attending other performances throughout the evening after they were done playing. Such is the spirit of ¡Globalquerque!

As luck would have it, we were able to stay in the Theater, in our front row of the main section for the next act. My wife and I were so happy to discover that the original, quirky and topical Jill Sobule was booked for !Globalquerque! as the sole representative of the American singer-songwriter genre.

We both knew her from earlier periods of her long, 11 album career. Sobule is a kick and a character from the moment she is at the mic.

She builds her sets in a somewhat democratic fashion by either asking the audience if she should play a certain type or song on her mind, or by giving a multiple-choice outcry of songs or song-styles, to the crowd and listening for the response. Of course in true contemporary folk music style, she tells little stories to introduce all her numbers.

Jill Sobule presents as both a self-aware and social-activist modern American, navigating troubles and life-stages via her uncanny, of the moment songwriting abilities.

Early in her set she played "A Good Life" and described it as a "Love song for the Apocalypse." As a nod to her audience and a request, she did her New Mexico song, a beautiful ballad of a road trip and a relationship story all rolled into one.

After telling us about losing her beloved mother this year, she played the first song she wrote for her. "Death in Venice Beach" is about hoping her mom would come to her in her dreams. It is a poignant, lovely and tribute-worthy song which portrayed her bond with her mother and her journey forward, going on without her.

True to her style of crafting numbers from life experience she played "San Francisco." a song about a "massage gone bad." She told the crowd a story of going to get a massage with a friend and feeling a bit of an off vibe in the establishment.

Turns out the masseuse was a dominatrix in another alt-universe of her life. And so Jill was treated to "too much information" about the fetish world. And that story finds its way into the song. As was said at the outset, this performer is a highly original artist and an outsized entertainer. Bring her on for more!

Back out in the Plaza Mayor afterwards was the Brazilian singer Dona Onette. She has quite of life story. She was discovered as a performer later in life after her career as a history professor and Secretary of Culture for a Brazilian state.

This soulful woman holds her audience in a hypnotic state as she traverses from traditional, regional tunes into carimba at the root of the famous lambada style. Dona Onette has the commanding presence of–as my old teachers used to say–a big self. She is worth seeking out musically and I highly suggest listeners look for her recorded work.

¡Globalquerque! delivers a diverse and extremely well curated array of music and culture. During the day Saturday, was a free fest within a festival. there were participative workshops, demonstrations and performances in the main plaza of the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Between those events and the two nights of major programming, its no wonder  ¡Globalquerque! is now a draw not only for Albuquerque visitors, but for a great many international music festival fans who travel from other cities and states to attend.

Not surprisingly, it is already on our Calendar for next year. So, check the dates for next year, then, don your ethnic garb, and we’ll see you next time in the global village.


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