Countries, Culture, Deals, Music, Sport

Maradona, you’ve been Tangoed

And to the million reasons I’m proud of the Son and Heir this year I’m adding a radio show, Radio Buena Vida, on Argentinian music with donations to Homeless charity the Simon Community.

To mark the passing this year (although the World Cup Final winning goal aside, he rarely passed) of Diego Maradona.

The Wee Man, as we all know, loved a party, and we loved The Wee Man.

And being Argentinian he had natural rhythm which he brought to the dancing floor.

El Glitterball

Taking in the Christmas Strictly show yesterday, and having listened to my son Ally’s radio show, got me thinking how good it would have been to see him Tango.

I’d put him with somebody similarly small, probably the gorgeous 4ft 11in Cuban-Floridian Janette Manrara.

Diego also had a strong voice and to tempt you into Ally’s prog, here’s a taster of Maradona’s singing.

There are a million reasons too to visit Maradona’s beloved Argentina

My two favourites would be football and football and a match and tour at Diego’s beloved Boca Juniors would be high up on my list.

Pampas and polo

But obviously the music, and I know a man who knows his Argentinian music,

While there’s also the pampas and the polo, which I know they, and an old schoolmate of mine, play on the fields of England.

The former US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said of The Iguazu Falls which spills a quarter of a million gallons of water a day: ‘poor old Niagara.’

And while the bustling cities of Buenos Aires, Cordoba and Mendoza are a must, the southernmost city on Earth, Ushuaia is too.

Water, water everywhere

We’d suggest the 12-day Wendy Wu Essence of Argentina & Brazil tour from €4390pp with flights.

While G Adventures pairs Argentina and Chile, ten days Santiago to Buenos Aires from €1317 which is down from €1549.

MEET YOU ON THE FLOOR

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays – Soak Mi Down at Christmas

Which for us in the frozen north means mulled wine, sherry (or stronger) but which in the Caribbean is something far stronger..

Nadia Batson is a Tobagonian exponent of Parang Soca, a saucy version of the So Calypso music of the Southern islands.

And Nadia’s party song was the soundtrack too to our trip to Tobago this time last year.

Nadia… a lot of woman

So much so that we got a CD burned for our hostess with the mostest, Sarah…

SLM, when she’s not running her successful yoga business loves to parang at Tobago Sunday Service.

With my Tobagonian pals and the peerless Sarah

Every year the islands (that’s Tobago and its bigger twin island Trinidad) there are new Christmas albums.

Which is more than we get with the old standards trotted out in our Christmas charts.

And so this year as well as reprising pictures of me with a Tobagonian Santa I will steer you in the direction of DJ Floops’ 2020 Parang mix.

If you’ve never heard parang before then you’re in for a treat.

Christmas in Tobago

And you’ll detect a Latin beat which is not surprising when you consider Trinidad is only 11km from Venezuala.

From where the famed Spanish Ladies hail. But they’re another story and not one for Christmas time.

America, Asia, Countries, Europe, Music, Pilgrimage

Rainy Days and Songdays – Happy Hanukah

And I’ll light a candle in unison for a Happy Hanukah though, in truth, The Scary One and Daddy’s Little Girl have the place looking like a Meatloaf video already.

Hanukah’s status has grown in modern times.

Mainly in North America as part of a better recognition of other cultures and religious observances in December.

So it’s commonplace now, and rightly so, to wish your Jewish friends Happy Hanukah.

Which, in fact, Matisyahu does more tunefully than I ever could, even if I were swollen with sweetened Israeli wine.

Matisyahu’s song touches all the right points, to be fair, King David, Maccabee, Mount Zion, and, of course, candles.

Matisyahu means ‘gift of God’ .

He has, as you might expect from one who terms himself thus, a confidence about himself.

Gift from God

Matthew Miller is actually a Pennsylvanian who is a foremost proponent of Jewish rock, Jewish hip hop and fusion reggae.

We all have our images of Judaism.

And, in truth other than my own home address the place names in The Promised Land’ from the Bible were the most familiar of my childhood.

Anne Frank Statue, Amsterdam

The Jewish story I learned in my early years has infused a lifelong interest in the Chosen People.

Alas that has mostly meant visiting Holocaust markers, Dachau concentration camp on a booze bus trip to Oktoberfest in Munich.

Charles Bridge in Prague

And the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.

In every city around the world, as much as the Irish or the Scots, or more, there has been a Jewish diaspora.

Venice ghetto

I found it in the first ghetto in Venice and again in the Jewish quarter in Prague.

But it is to modern-day Israel that I am drawn most.

And saw up close and personally at the Site of St John’s Baptism of Jesus in Jordan on my G Adventures trip the other side.

When Russian Orthodox pilgrims doused themselves in the River Jordan from the Israeli side just 50n from us in Jordan.

I’ll make it over one day, and hopefully soon, but in the meantime give Happy Hanukah an oul’ lesson.

It’ll make a change from Marish Carey and The Pogues.

Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays – Ho-ho-Ne-Yo

Excuse me. And I might drink a little more than I should tonight…. Cause we might not get tomorrow – Give Me Everything ~ Pitbull ft Ne-Yo

He didn’t give me everything although I guess a beardie middle-aged Scot wasn’t who he had in mind, but Ne-Yo did give me his sweat towel.

When the hip-hop star performed for the delegates at the American Travel Fair (IPW) in Washington DC.

No swear: Ne-Yo

And I jumped out of the mosh pit (actually by the stage and round dinner tabes) to grab the towel he threw out.

It now has pride of place on my bookshelf in my office.

Dancing with Ne-Yo

I brushed shoulders again with Shaffer Chimere Smith (for it is he) again in the Recording Grammy Museum Mississippi in Cleveland.

When a virtual Ne-Yo ran me through an interactive dance lesson.

The Museum is a must-do on tour trail when you can also get a lesson from John Lee Hooker and a chance to record your own cover of Boom Boom.

Grammy, we love you: In Mississippi

And have it transferred to your phone… and watch out X Factor I’m coming for the Christmas No. 1.

Christmas in the Windies

Ne-Yo’s latest offering is as a featured star with DING DONG (no me neither) on the Shaggy track Holiday in Jamaica.

Shaggy dips his toe in the Caribbean to explore how they celebrate Christmas.

And in the absence of chimneys Santa has been known to throw the pressies down from the mango trees!

Shagalicious: In Jamaica. www.clashmusic.com

It’s off Jamaican Shaggy’s Christmas in the Islands album, a 16-track collection with new tracks, something there’s just too little of at Christmas.

Including Catch Myself Some Rays, although there is a reggae version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas..

Which brings me back to Mississippi snd a gospel singer’s rendition in Jackson three years ago this week.

Christmas in Mississippi

And aren’t we all intertwined just like Christmas ribbon anyway?

Soca stars

Now if you like Shaggy’s reggae Christmas then you’ll adore the irreverent Parang Soca stars sound of Tobago

where I was this time last year.

Now back to the beach… a sodden North Berwick in grey oul’ Scotland!

Caribbean, Countries, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays – Angie in Barbados

Angie, Angie , where will it lead us from here? – The Rolling Stones

Usually late for whoever, or wherever, we were meant to be in Barbados.

Angie Greaves popped up again over the weekend when I fell upon her radio show on Smooth FM.

Cheryl on the top: With Cheryl Carter

It’s been a couple of years since I last came across Angie, randomly, as a guest on Celebrity Pointless.

Where as I would have expected she scored a Pointless answer.

The Fun Five

Angie lit up our Barbados Crop Over trip along with the Fun Five of Extra Miley Kylie, Chippin’ Charlotte, Ab Fab, Laura Disorder and Hayley the Soca Blogger.

Angie, I christened Early Angie, for reaaons I will now explain.

Sunshine smile: Angie. www.angiegreaves.com

Our smooth-voiced DJ was hosting a charming old couple who had won a holiday back to Bim from where they hailed.

And was also gathering material for her radio show which meant she would always start an interview just as we were about to leave.

Soca stars

Angie, to be fair, was great company as was Champion Cheryl Carter who introduced us to Soca music.

And we were not to be disappointed.

While they both waxed lyrical on modern great Prince who had died that year, and his music…. hence the above clip.

While Prince doesn’t have a song dedicated to Angie (that I know of), The Rolling Stones do.

Mick’s pick

Mick Jagger is a big fan of the island, the cricket, the rum shops, and the women I dare say!

The story goes that it was about David Bowie’s wife as an apology when she apparently burst in and found him in bed with David Bowie.

Right at home: Mick in Barbados

Which Jagger denied.

But Keith Richards, who wrote the song, debunks that myth or that it was about his own daughter, and says it was an everywoman song.

I can’t rule out that Mick or Keef wrote it about Angie Greaves!

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays – Si Senor, we can boogie

We all need a certain song and for us Scots that certain song is Spanish disco classic Yes Sir, I Can Boogie.

The story goes that one of the Scottish footballers who qualified for the Euros, Andrew Considine, had sung the song on a bachelor’s party while dressed in drag.

And the squad adopted it and partied to it after they beat Serbia to qualify for the finsls.

Boogie nights

All night long: Andrew Considine (centre)

It’s not unusual for Scottish men to wear skirts, of course.

And some of us have even twirled the skirt in destinations from Ireland to France to Turkey.

And all the better when it’s to a Spanish beat.

Mad Madrid for it

Yes Sir I Can Boogie (Baccara): And Mayte and Maria are two Madridistas.

Who reached No.1 in the UK in 1977 for a week at a time when Scotland were again on a roll and preparing for a World Cup.

The two senoritas went onto represent randomly Luxembourg at Eurovision.

Where they finished seventh behind winners Israel but two places ahead of the Spanish entrant.

Maracca cracka

Where’s the hat?

Y Viva Espana (Sylvia): That’ll be Sylvia Vrethammar to you and me.

Sylvia Vretwho… well, yes, she was the chirpy Swede who held her Spanish hat coquettishly before launching into this party favourite.

Which every family sang on their way to Spain, and yes, guilty as I tagged along with my family to Ibiza.

The track which Sylvia took to No.4 in the UK charts was actually written by a couple of Belgians and did the rounds in Europe in a number of languages.

Macarena in the arena

Macarena (Los del Rio): Always better in the Spanish with Los del Rio meaning Those from the River… and Macarena, well the name of a woman

And these guys hail from Dos Hermanas, near Seville in Andalusia.

This duo, Antonio Romario Monge and Rafael Ruiz Perdigones, were formed in 1962 – and remember The Beatles first charted in the UK that year.

It took the two amigos 33 years to get their ten minutes of fame and Billboard named the best one-hit wonder of all time.

Though they had to settle for No.2 in the UK.

Wham bam Bamboleo

Bamboleo (Gipsy Kings): And this literally means wobble although it is slightly more sensual to describe it as swing.

The band are Gitano-French, Romani or gipsies, from Arles and Montpelier in the French Riviera, hence the title they gave themselves,

Can’t find the chart position here for Bamboleo, a bit of a wobble here on my part then.

And La Bamba too

La Bamba (Ritchie Valens): Ritchie Valenzuela achieved immortality through this song.

Born in LA, the son of Mexicans, Ritchie’s life was snuffed out in the same plane crash that claimed the lives of Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper.

Lou Diamond Philipps played Ritchie in the 1987 biopic where Los Lobos had a No.1 international hit with the song (Ritchie had only got to No.49).

So in tribute to the Spanish sound I’m off to practise my boogie ahead of the Euros.

 

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainydays and Songdays – the American musical

Give my regards to Broadway, Remember me to Herald Square, Tell all the gang at Forty-Second Street, that I will soon be there.

Because it’s come to my notice that they’re making a movie out of Hamilton for release next year and we’ve been binge-watching musicals during lockdown.

I’m taking a Yankee Doodle Dandy dander through the American musical with a stop-off in London’s West End and Dublin’s Theatreland too.

Come all: Come From Away. www.broadway.com

Away, away, away, away

Come From Away: Which is all visitors coming into North America anyway.

These ones, of course, were the 38 planeloads who had to land in the small Newfoundland town of Dander after 9/11.

And found out a lot more about each other as I did when I saw it in Denver.

We all come from far away and have become friends over the years at IPW, the American Travel Fair, who bring the best of Broadway to whichever town is in town.

And here’s one from the show worth coming for…. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=p8JI70eXjG8.

Peak form? Wicked. https://www.wickedthemusical.co.uk/

Wicked stuff

And this one cones to you from Dublin and New York and Oz.

Which is, of course, the thing about musicals, they transform you to other lands.

Dublin was where Disney on Broadway invited us to take in Wicked.

But if you can’t get to the show this will warm your heart up… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HEnQY_66GZc

She’s all heart: The Carole King Musical. www.broadwaydirect.com

King of London City

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical: I felt the earth move when I caught the story of the greatest female songwriter of all time in London.

And that was just from my kids holding an unsanctioned party back in Greystones in Co. Wicklow in Ireland.

And our next-door neighbour texting us to tell us they had called the Gardai

Didn’t stop me throwing shapes though. It could wait until I got home before I threw my weight around!

And Carole.., What a natural woman!

All you need is…, Las Vegas. www.cirquedesoleil.com

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

The Beatles LOVE: And this being Cirque de Soleil you just know it will be an interactive experience.

With trapeze artists and dancers twirling about… Vegas, baby!

All to the background of Liverpool‘s finest, the Fab Four.

And you’ll be lucky and see a guy in the sky with diamonds (or sequins at least).

Of course, the best musical is the one about a half-Scottish New Yorker who made good and led his country to great things.

This is my pick from the various productions out there.

Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Music

Rainy Days and Songdays – Alps, Autry and America

High on a hill was a lonely goatherd, Lae Ee Od Lay Ee Od Lay Hee Hoo – The Sound of Music

And who hasn’t yodelled when they’ve found themselves in the foothills of the Alps? I know I hodelay-hodelay-hodelayhee-have.

Although we couldn’t get superstar septuagenarian and amateur yodeller Brigitte to clear her throat when she took us walking above Interlaken in Switzerland.

Yodel eh? In Austria

We did though get awesome octogenarian Arthut, or Ehrwald Presley as I coined him, doing his verbal gymnastics last year on our Top Flight for Schools trip.

Before the night ascended into an Irish wedding-type hooley.

Now your favourite music on our travels column has been over yodelling before in this series.

But on the occasion of 60 years of the Irish Austrian Society which we’ll celebrate tonight let’s explore how yodelling was carried on the wind around the world.

Gene genie

Gene’s gaffe: The Angels at Anaheim

If you’re of a certain age, or if you’re versed in cowboy movies, you’ll know all about Gene Autry.

The Singing Cowboy, who hit the heights from the Thirties through to the Sixties.

And became such a big star that he even bought himself a baseball team in 1961, the Angels, who in their current iteration are the LA Angels.

Playing for the jersey: Gene Autry, the Angel

Gene may be 22 years gone (an angel for ever now) this month.

But not, nor will he ever be forgotten, in Anaheim

There is a shrine to him at Angels stadium which you can visit ahead of a game.

The Angels held Gene in such high regard that they added him to the roster and then retired the No.26 number.

Hodelayhee-Home Run.

Yodelling meets Blues

Jimmie, Jimmie: Jimmie Rogers. www.countrymusichalloffame.org

Yodelling may have its roots in the Alps but the Americans bluesed it up with the likes of Jimmie Rogers.

And as we all know America, and particularly the Deep South us where music went into a big melting pot.

It gave us, Jazz, Blues, Country, Elvis and Soul.

And, to think it all started with a lonely goatherd, hee-hoo.

America, Caribbean, Countries, Culture, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays – Holly Dolly Christmas

So how many days out can you release a Christmas album? 84 if you dress up like a Christmas Tree like Dolly Parton.

Dolly has been trailing her Christmas album which she released at the start of the month.

While her god-daughter Miley Cyrus who herself has a new album to promote at the moment followed her onto the Graham Norton Show in the UK.

I know all about Christmas in Dolly’s neck of the woods, Tennessee.

Of course the best place for all things Dolly is Dollywood.

I visited there, Tennessee, though Dollywood itself is a pleasure I’ve yet to savour, and Mississippi.

And my party was treated to a Christmas song recital in an antebellum houses in the Deep South.

There’s some of the old standards on the Dolly album like Holly Jolly Christmas, All I Want For Christmas Is You and I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.

But there are more Dolly originals.

There are others who are getting their Christmas requests in early…

 

It’s usually all about the bass with Meghan but but this proud daughter of my beloved Massachusetts is all about the gifts in October,

She has a new album A Very Trainor Christmas.

The Dolly that we know and love has always been adorably irreverent.

Although not as saucy as Tobagonian Soca Parang music.

We’ll bring you more about the culture and traditions of Parang as Christmas comes closer.

But for now I’ll leave you with something that will definitely lift your spirits, a hot new 2020 Soca Parang Mix.

America, Canada, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Lennon’s revolution… 80 years a working class hero

Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans – John Lennon

We could pick any number to define our times as we mark John Lennon’s 8Oth birthday this week. Suffice to say his was a life lived.., and how.

We’ll never know for sure how he would have spent the last 40 years since his murder outside the Dakota Building in NY.

Blue for you. www.johnlennon.com

But it would be safe to assume he would have been at the forefront of all the great struggles of our day.

The Fall of the Wall, Apartheid, Black Lives Matter, Freedom from Covid.

Lennon bestrode his world, leaving his imprint, and still does.

And as his adopted New York celebrated his legacy by turning the Empire State Building blue, here are four Lennon cities.

Liverpool Lou Lennon

Liverpool 4

Oh Liverpool Lou, lovely Liverpool Lou, why don’t you behave like other girls do?

And we have Yoko Ono to thank for knowing this, that John would sing this song, his Mum’s fave, around the house.

John’s statue stands alongside his pals on the Liverpool waterfront near the Beatles Story museum.

Lennon is everywhere in his home city and the under-threat Cavern Club is a good first stop while let someone else do the work for you on their Magical Mystery tour.

Growing up in Hamburg

I didn’t grow up in Liverpool, I grew up in Hamburg.

Not that John was dissing his home city, it was just that he was giving an honest reply to a reporter.

Lennon and the boys (five of them then, with Stuart Sutcliffe on board and with Pete Best instead of Ringo Starr) lived in Hamburg between 1960-62.

And Stefanie Hempel’s Beatles Tour Das Original will take you all over their favourite haunts.

John was his favourite and she had his poster above her bed.

She will take you to the St Pauli door where he posed for a shot later used for the Rock ‘n’ Roll covers album and much, much more.

John’s New York

If I’d lived in Roman times, I’d have lived in Rome. Where else? Today America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself

While we all know that John died in NY let’s dwell on his life in the Big Apple.

John loved its vibe, its people, its energy and put it down in song on New York City off the album Some Time in New York City.

Dakota Building and the Strawberry Fields memorial where the music never stops are obviously on the itinerary.

For the rest, check out this video.

The Lennon wall in Prague

The Lennon Wall, Prague

What to make of it when you’re told that the Lennon Wall in Prague now has ‘Fuck Trump’ messages on it?

It put off my Czech guide who remembers the wall well from the days when it was an organic centrepoint of protest against the Communist.

‘Appen though John would approve.

And let’s not let Amsterdam and Montreal lie

Of course, this is where John and Yoko had their Bed-ins for Peace.

At the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam and the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.

And I hope that John would approve as I find myself compiling my thoughts here bolt upright in my bed.

While waiting to get back out there travelling again.