We've barely recovered, but we have to crow about all the global music goings-on at this year's SXSW. The festival has been quietly expanding as a global music hotspot, and 2015 took things to a new level. The World Music Meet Up, for example, grew this year to over fifty people, including SXSW world music ally Todd Puckhaber, presenters, journalists, artists, and other globalistas.
One major SXSW highlight: We collaborated with an Islamabad, Pakistan-based arts and education organization FACE and the US Embassy in Islamabad to produce SXSW’s first Pakistan showcase. The artists were diverse: Manganiyar song from a musical elder and rare female performer (Mai Dhai), hotshot dholi drummers (Sain Tanveer Brothers), thoughtful indie rock (Poor Rich Boy), Pashtun instrumental party music (Khumariyaan), wonderfully complex Eastern classical-infused rock (Mekaal Hasan Band), and good time pop (Haroon). They played to a packed house, moving the needle and making powerful connections between American presenters, listeners, music professionals, and their Pakistani counterparts.
Coverage poured in: NYT’s Jon Pareles waxed poetic twice about singer Mai Dhai while Billlboard’s Glenn Peoples dug deep into the diplomacy-meets-music side of the project. (See all the excitement here.)
On top of that, globalFEST and RPS had their own raucous showcases. The press hits were legion, but two female performers captured a lot of journalists' imaginations. globalFEST alumna/showcase performer Tanya Tagaq garnered reviews on Consequence of Sound and on NPR Music and Rolling Stone, among many others. RPS performer Carolina Camancho got love from Bitch Magazine and NPR's All Songs Considered.
And while we were in Austin, NPR ran two stories on clients. One told the amazing story of The Nile Project, an extraordinary project that merges water issues, international dialogue, and stunning music. Austin-based Riyaaz Qawwali, a multinational, multifaith band exploring South Asian Sufi sounds, played globalFEST in January, and NPR’s visit to Austin reminded them of the band’s achievements.
Shew. It's been one crazy, wonderful March!