As a child in Bogotá, Edmar Castañeda and his sister took folk dance classes. Their mother made sure of that. Castañeda liked the dancing, but he really liked the live harp accompaniment. In Spanish, the harp is called the llanero. It's Colombian, not a classical harp.
Credit Mostafa Abdel Aty / Courtesy of Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival
Egyptian folk singer Dina El Wedidi performs at Qasr El Nil Theater during the Downtown Cairo Arts Festival. Wedidi says efforts to revitalize venues like the Qasr El Nil are important because there aren't enough places for musicians of the post-revolution explosion to perform.
Credit Khaled Desouki / AFP/Getty Images
"Cairo is a city that needs a lot of dusting," says Ahmed El Attar, director of the Downtown Cairo Arts Festival. Efforts are underway to try to restore the city's past cultural glory.
Credit Mostafa Abdel Aty / Courtesy of Downton Contempary Arts Festival
Emel Mathlouthi, known as the voice of Tunisia's revolution, performs at Qasr El Nil Theater. Her songs of freedom left the audience weeping.
Egypt's capital, Cairo, is now synonymous with protests and sometimes violence. Late at night, the once-bustling downtown streets are largely empty these days. People worry about getting mugged or caught up in a mob.
But the recent Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival is an attempt to revitalize the area with music, art and culture in the old and forgotten venues of downtown Cairo, like the Qasr El Nil Theater.
More than a band, Savages is an idea. Guitarist Gemma Thompson said it herself during our interview at KEXP: "We had the idea originally and wanted to put everything we'd all accumulated individually into creating a performance that had a sonic representation of the name Savages."
Woody Herman, who would have turned 100 on Thursday, bloomed early and late — and then later still. He turned pro by age 9, singing and dancing in movie theaters on summer vacation. He'd perform one song deemed too risqué for radio when he recorded it decades later: "My Gee Gee From the Fiji Isles."
Whether its members see it as blessing or a curse, Vampire Weekend's early success placed the band squarely under a microscope. Since even before the release of its first album, Vampire Weekend's clever lyrics and use of worldly rhythms have commanded attention; fortunately, the group's fame hasn't waned as its music has become more dynamic and confident.
On Monday, the team behind Lee Brice's "I Drive Your Truck" gathered in Nashville to celebrate the song's reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. From left: co-songwriters Jimmy Yeary, Connie Harrington and Jessi Alexander, military father Paul Monti and singer Lee Brice.