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How do you plan a Quinceañera (the traditional Latin American 15th birthday celebration) during a pandemic? Chicago based family band Marisol La Brava & A Flor de Piel was inspired by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s Girlhood -It’s Complicated online exhibit, to celebrate their daughter’s 15th birthday by recording an EP called “GIRLHOOD, it’s Complicado.” Facing the challenges of throwing a typical traditional Mexican celebration to honor this transition to womanhood, they decided to produce an EP that highlights different experiences of girlhood in a Mexican American family instead.

When Sarah Aroeste’s ancestors were kicked out of Spain following the Alhambra Decree in 1492, they, like many other Spanish Jewish families (known as Sephardim), migrated east and  settled in Monastir, a Balkan city at the commercial crossroads between Turkey and Western Europe, in what is now North Macedonia. For centuries, the Jewish community of Monastir flourished alongside its neighbors and enjoyed a unique history, with its own customs, religious observances, linguistic patterns and more. 

But nothing could prevent WWII and the Nazi invasion from decimating Monastir and her neighboring Jewish communities. On March 11, 1943, 3,276 of Monastir’s Jewish men, women, and children were rounded up and transported to their deaths at Treblinka concentration camp. Monastir lost 98% of its Jewish population, and with that, an entire culture. Altogether, 7,215 Macedonian Jews perished. Today, there are approximately 200 people who make up a Jewish community in the capital of Skopje, and not a single Jew left in Monastir, since renamed as Bitola.  

But the legacy of Jewish Monastir lives on.

Over the past three decades, as an author and photographer, an accomplished guitarist, frequent commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered, and Senior Producer for the Peabody Award-winning public radio series Afropop Worldwide, Banning Eyre has lived a fascinating professional life in pursuit of a singular passion for African music. 

Giving voice to a lifetime of songs and sounds encountered on his travels, Dog Ranch Music PR is proud to help Banning to announce the official launch of Lion Songs Records, a label dedicated to amplifying the unique beauty of contemporary African music traditions and highlighting that music’s deep interconnection with popular culture in the Americas and around the world. And fittingly, as its inaugural release, Lion Songs Records is proud to present Mande Guitar: African Guitar Series, Volume 1, an intimate acoustic session by Boubacar “Badian” Diabate, one of the greatest Mande guitarists of the 21st Century. 

With recent world events spurring the new evolution of their signature Finn funk-meets – Voodoo rhythms sound, Finnish-Beninese-Tanzanian afrobeat funk band The Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble is sending a message to listeners about the importance of maintaining one’s self-respect and dignity, and staying strong through difficult and uncertain times.

Led by Finnish guitarist Janne Halonen and Beninese Singer/Percussionist Noël Saïzonou, the 8-piece Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble is set to release its self-titled, fifth album (out May 21, 2021 on Flowfish Records). The album’s nine tracks draw inspiration from West African Voodoo traditions, Afrobeat, Jazz, Soul, and conscious Hip-Hop, with all songs being sung in Saïzonou’s native Goun language.  

After a year of quarantine characterized by silent live-music venues, empty dancefloors, and debauch-less nights, people everywhere are collectively fever-dreaming of a day in the  not-so-distant-future when they can get together and have some fun again — envisioning themselves out dancing with friends, uninhibited, to some luscious, surging groove.

Billboard Chart-topper and emerging East Coast reggae star Joe Sambo delivers the soundtrack to that socially distant daydream with his new single “Beef” (to be released March 19th on LAW Records). “Beef” is the anthem for that ethereal party you’ve been having in your head for the past year, with a hook so deliciously danceable it is a thing of sustenance and should rightly be canned like a savory Spam for the rhythm-starved masses.

Sometimes a concert is much more than music.  Sometimes it’s a celebration of a special milestone, in this case the 20-year trajectory of Calle Sur, a Latin duo based in the Midwest, comprised of Panamanian Edgar East (vocals, Latin percussion, guitar, flute, trumpet, Venezuelan quitiplás bamboo tubes) and Colombian Karin Stein (vocals, guitar, Andean zampoña pan flutes, Colombian gaita flutes, Venezuelan cuatro). The COVID-19 pandemic nearly halted their 20th anniversary celebration plans, but Karin and Ed decided to start 2021 with renewed hope and the release of a 20th anniversary album, “Cancún,” an exciting variation on their usual repertoire of Latin folk and popular music infused with jazz piano. 

Ubuntu Music is delighted to announce the signing of the Brooklyn-based pianist Richard X Bennett for the worldwide release of his next album ‘RXB3’, on 28th May 2021. The inspirations for Richard X Bennett’s lively work evolve from a wide range of unlikely sources, from contemporary visual art to ancient metaphysics influenced by years performing in India, where he recorded a series of critically acclaimed raga-jazz albums for Times Music, India’s largest record label. At points on RXB3, Richard X Bennett might adopt  the triplet pattern of rhythm made popular by leading contemporary rap group Migos, or channel the vibe of pre-LP era Duke Ellington, but ultimately he follows his own muse. His pieces are short takes on the classical ‘theme and variation’, given an edge by deconstructing said themes in a whirlwind of improv, transforming this long-standing technique into ‘theme and destruction’!  

As an accomplished composer, producer, and bassist, as an Emmy-winning music editor, and executive music producer for film, L.A.-based Brit-transplant Richard Ford humbly maintains a resume of impressive accolades. He has worked with many Oscar-winning filmmakers on such films as Sideways, Argo, and Hidden Figures and, all this as a kind of second career after spending his early adult life as bass player for British music icons like Joe Jackson, Bram Tchaikovsky, and revered guitarist Bill Nelson. 

Ford is now set to drop his latest single, a cover of The Blue Nile song “Soon” just ahead of his forthcoming album BP2, to be released May 21, 2021

After all is said and done, after 30 years, after a pandemic which shattered, jolted and stripped the world bare, after thousands of kilometers traveled and many more thousands of notes played and sung, what remains?

This is the question that plagues us all in the COVID era. Noa and Gil answer with Afterallogy.

Reggae has a long history and deep, sacred roots as a music of resistance to the authoritarian establishment — it is protest music we can dance to freely while taking a united stand against political corruption, racism, and social injustice.

West Coast alternative rock and reggae band Cydeways has just delivered a potent reminder of that essential connection with the release of their new single  “We Won’t Run” featuring legendary Hawaiian reggae-rock band Pepper. The timely and socially relevant single comes ahead of the band’s first full-length album with LAW Records, slated to be released later this year.

Manika Kaur’s music has received overwhelming praise from the global Sikh community, and has transcended and touched the souls of music lovers from all walks of life throughout the world. Now with EK (April 16, 2021, Six Degrees Records), the album she refers to as her deepest and most accomplished recorded work to date, Manika hopes to spread the word of both her music and charitable endeavors far and wide.

Genre-busting vocalist, songwriter, and ukulele maverick Vana Liya made a serendipitous recent arrival on the national music scene after she posted several ukulele covers of popular reggae songs to social media, which garnered the support of top original artists and led to a 2018 record deal with L.A.-based LAW Records.  She has since been quickly earning a reputation among many of her well-established musical peers as a solid collaborator who always brings a fresh take and positive energy to the mix with her distinct yet not easily classifiable “island” vibe.  That free spirit of collaboration between major and emerging artists is nowhere better illustrated than with Vana Liya’s new single “Come Away” featuring Jamaican dancehall and reggae legend Half Pint (out Feb. 12, 2021, on LAW Records).

Many musicians dream of making a record with a symphony orchestra, but few can afford to make it a reality. Thanks to an extraordinary ability to compose melodies that take root in his listeners’ minds and because he has patiently performed these compositions on stage to the point where they are practically a part of him, Avishai Cohen was well-positioned to execute such an ambition. Two Roses (Friday April 16th, 2021, NAÏVE / BELIEVE) is the result of a long process, which began in 2013 when Cohen recorded his album Almah, with his trio and a small chamber ensemble of four string instruments and an oboe.

Orlando-based reggae rockers Kash’d Out are no strangers to getting by and rolling with the punches while maintaining good vibes through it all. The band’s signature, positive energy and uncommon entrepreneurial hustle exemplifies the spirit behind their upcoming album of acoustic versions of past tracks Casual Encounters (to be released March 5, 2021 on LAW Records).The band’s second single in advance of the album “Always Vibin’ ” (backed by “Paralyzed”) just dropped on 2/19/21 delivering a much-needed Kash’d Out-style reminder to everyone of the good, simple pleasures of life and the virtues of chilling out. The release offers a taste of the band’s dynamic versatility and unique ability to reinvent favorite tracks through fresh, stripped-down instrumentation.

While driving from Venice to Orlando, Sally Ponzio heard in her heart an unmistakable voice. It was the voice of her son Travis, who had tragically overdosed six months ago, after a long battle with addiction. She pulled over, reached for the napkin on the seat next to her, and started writing. Travis’s words of comfort and solace flowed as fast as she could write them. The words on those napkins would become the lyrics to “Remember Me” a collaboration between Sally, her jazz-pianist/composer brother Frank Ponzio, and singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Eleanor Dubinsky. “Remember Me” and its accompanying video is at once a tribute to Travis and a dedicated offering to all who have lost loved ones too soon to the epidemic of addiction.

None escape THE LAW, and we’re no exception! Dog Ranch is very happy to partner with LAW Records to get the word out about the amazing artists on the LAW roster. Stay tuned for the word on some groovin’ reggae to help you relax and help you think.

Prolific NYC-based songwriter Steven Keene churns out great Americana/Roots tunes in the spirit of the ongoing folk-rock protest tradition started long ago by that Dylan fellow. Listen to tunes from Steven’s upcoming album Them & Us (out Nov 13).

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