Saturday, January 11, 2014

Saturday morning tunes: That's one way to end those walking blues

I saw Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the Roseland Theater in Portland in March of 1998. They were wonderful. Delightful. Precision, articulation, joy.

Paul Simon was briefly in hot water for spending time in South Africa in 1985 – some argued it was in violation of the UN boycott at the time – to work on tracks for his magnificent "Graceland" album. (Linda Ronstadt, who also performed on that album, was the object of some disapproval as well. We'll have to feature "Under African Skies" sometime soon.) But Simon came back with great sounds, including Ladysmith. And he was one of the first artists to return to South Africa after the boycott was lifted twenty-two years ago today.

I remember a review, sometime after "Graceland," when Ladysmith appeared at Radio City Music Hall not long after "Graceland" topped the charts. Sure, the reviewer groused, they made Radio City, but only with Paul Simon behind them. Another critic responded, Yes, but next time they won't have to have Paul Simon.

They've gotten two Grammys since then.

Their trademark was touching hands as they left the stage.

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