Freestyle: Music to love in 2013
BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / firstname.lastname@example.org
Howdy, and Happy New Year!
I’m writing this year-end blog in the wake of a great experience sitting in at KTUH, the University of Hawaii at Manoa college radio station with DJ Joe Farber, who invited me to share some of the music I loved in 2013.
I had fun with my very first DJ experience. Best of all, it was an opportunity to share some music that moved and impressed me during 2013.
The songs I chose weren’t all released during 2013 — some go back to the 1970s. The common thread for most, though, was I heard the music performed during the year.
It was a learning experience to put together a playlist and try to find a flow that would allow me to highlight Willie Nelson and Nick Cave, Chali 2na and Chelsea Light Moving, all of whom I heard live this year.
The connection for all of the above was Texas, where the annual South by Southwest music festival and conference draws both veteran and brand-new acts to the streets and stages. I took a separate visit to Houston to witness Willie Nelson last month, but his spirit presides over much of the music in Austin as a founding member of the “cosmic” and “outlaw” country movements that broke the rules, changed the game and centered in Austin in the early ’70s.
Also on my playlist: teen act Kitten, aka Chloe Chaidez, who keeps the post-punk flame alive and wowed crowds with high-flying energy at SXSW, and Algerian DJ/producer Cheb I Sabbah, who fused electronic beats and music from Arab, African and Indian cultures, serving as a spiritual and musical touchstone at Burning Man when I attended the desert gathering this year. (Cheb I Sabbah passed in November; R.I.P.)
I heard some great music right here in Honolulu. Speaking of world beat, Honolulu band Quadraphonix stirred the pot with a fusion of African/Caribbean beats and Malaysian influences. Jayson Tobosa’s JT Experiment brought open-minded musicians from across Honolulu together for a night of rock and funk.
On tour, The Cure brought fans of ’80s music out in droves for a packed and lengthy Blaisdell Arena show that reminded us all of the band’s strange, sexy, independent vision. At The Republik, Adam Ant was inspiring and transcendent, reborn and revived as a feisty art-rocker; The Melvins Lite rocked my world.
On the streets of Chinatown, Hallowballoo brought my musical hero Allen Toussaint to Hawaii — that man knows how to party at the piano! — and introduced me to Xavier Rudd, who brings me new hope for the planet.
In the early part of the year, Divine Fits came to The Republik and brought post-punk fire to the stage. Soon after, the band members were the darlings of Austin at SXSW, and I was able to catch them again.
In a more timeless vein, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Grateful Dead offshoot New Riders of the Purple Sage was not only still kicking, but reinvigorated, with chiming pedal steel and rapid-fire guitar picking that would blow away many younger bands.
The New Riders played a lengthy set at Crossroads at Hawaiian Brian’s that had the audience on its feet and cheering by its midpoint. Don’t sleep on future shows at this venue, because there’s a lot of promise in store.
Want to hear more? I’ve created a Spotify playlist below with some of my favorite music heard in 2013. Check it out!
Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser‚Äôs weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter.