Friday, September 26, 2008
Here another whole week has gone past, and just because I have been somewhat preoccupied with world financial crisis and the prospect of sleeping under bridges, I haven't yet mentioned how much fun I had last weekend.
I was at Globalquerque, our yearly festival of world music, and it was terrific.
My hands-down favorite performer was the Israeli singer Mor Karbasi, who is something of a world musical festival in her own right, having a Persian father, Moroccan mother, being born in Jerusalem, based in London, and singing a lot of her songs in Ladino, which is a kind medieval Spanish/Portuguese creole spoken by Sephardic exiles.
She has a gorgeous voice, a repertoire of very strong songs, and a bit of flamenco flair. (Ladino songs had a lot of Morroccan influence, which in turn strongly influenced flamenco, which the Spanish thought had been brought to Spain by the Gypsies, who they thought were from Flanders. No doubt this is all unraveled in Ned Sublette's excellent book.)
Ladino songs also tend to be about God, though that's hidden. The Sephardim knew that if they practiced their religion in Spain they'd be burned at the stake, so they disguised their religious songs as love songs, and God as the beloved, usually in the form of a white dove. So if you hear a reference to "paloma blanca," you know what's going on.
Her first concert, on Friday night, was in an outdoor courtyard, and the rain began to just pour down. She was in a cloister and sheltered, but the audience wasn't.
We didn't leave. I had an umbrella, but most people didn't. The rain poured, Mor Karbasi sang, and we were all happy.
It was her first U.S. concert, so I think we gave her about the best welcome she could expect.
Also, with Mor Karbasi it's easy calling for an encore. All you have to do is shout out her name.