Featuring El Freaky, Socalled, Rocky Dawuni, Mai Dhai, Dosti Music Project, and Carolina Camacho onstage at Austin’s Russian House
In a time when musical niches are exploding, it’s a relief to discover music that quite deliberately crosses borders and styles and reaches out to connect cultures and the past to the future. That’s the music that really matters, and these are the artists who have something to say.
That’s also the music that catches the ears of rock paper scissors, and these are the artists that the leading firm for global music and technology will present at SXSW 2015 in a showcase night to satisfy hearts, hearts, and feet.
On March 21 at The Russian House (307 E. 5th, 21+ only), from 8 pm to 2 am, the stage will rock to the Colombian roots electronics of El Freaky, the Canadian-Jewish hip-hop and pop of Socalled, the rarely-heard Pakistani Manganiyar music of Mai Dhai, the Afro-roots and reggae of Ghana’s Rocky Dawuni, the worldwide artistic collaboration that makes up the Dosti Music Project, and the Dominican soul of Carolina Camacho. It’s the cutting edge of global eclecticism together for one night.
Last year’s rock paper scissors showcase was the “best I attended,” reported to KUT Global Grooves DJ Michael Crockett, “thanks to the energy and talent of the artists and the enthusiasm of the packed audience.” This year’s will spiral even higher.
In an article that criticized SXSW as being out of balance, the Wall Street Journal’s Jim Fusilli wrote of the rps showcase, “These performances relieved, at least temporarily, the unavoidable conclusion that most musicians might have invested their time more fruitfully in a place where music was the primary focus of attention.” Last year, SXSW buzz was plentiful for our showcasing acts--from the Austin Chronicle and KCRW to Rolling Stone and Spin--and we expect the same later this month.
rps @ The Russian House/ Saturday March 21
8 pm: Dosti The Dosti Music Project (‘dosti’ means friendship in Hindi and Urdu) brings together adventurous musicians with open ears and hearts from India, Pakistan, and the United States to work and explore a range of styles, forging a musical space where old-time fiddling can meet Karachi house as they create original work that draws from all their backgrounds and influences.
9 pm: Rocky Dawuni Ghanaian Rocky Dawuni has been called “Ghana’s Bob Marley” by CNN for his infectious, conscious mix of reggae and Afrobeat. A veteran with a career that stretches back almost 20 years, he’s become a true African music icon. At the start of 2015 he released his sixth album, Branches of the Same Tree, featuring the song and video “African Thriller.”
10 pm: Mai Dhai Over dholak drum and harmonium, the beautiful voice of Mai Dhai flows, singing her Manganiyar Sufi music from Pakistan. She’s one of just a handful of keepers of an ancient tradition that goes back to the time of Alexander the Great, but it’s only very recently that this music has been widely heard.
11 pm: Carolina Camacho Reinventing the Afro-Caribbean music of her native Dominican Republic, Camacho scored a #1 album in her homeland with her debut album, Atabey. Mixing traditional rhythms with electronica and jazz, then topping it all with her deliciously soulful voice, she was the hit of the Latin Alternative Music Conference. It’s music for the modern world.
Midnight: Socalled The Montreal-based rapper, producer, filmmaker, and much more, has performed on every continent and worked with a who’s who of liked-minded, questing musicians, ranging from Fred Wesley to modern klezmer great David Krakauer and calypsonian the Mighty Sparrow. With albums like The Socalled Seder and Hiphopkhasene he’s explored and blown open his Jewish roots and faith.
1 am: El Freaky The El Freaky DJ collective out of Bogota, Colombia stands out as one of the emerging stars of the Latin dance music scene. Starting out as Friday night party music, they’ve become one of the most inventive crews to rise, releasing mixtapes and touring widely with their bass-heavy fusion of African roots music and Colombian folk, all presented with panache and showmanship.