[17 May 2011]
Chicago musician Bucky Halker runs his finger down a list of the city’s different ethnic groups and genres and assigns them one track each. A Senegalese migrant plays his kora; a Chinese woman is sleek on her erhu; Chet Lasik and His 47th Street Concertina Club throws up a prickly wave of metallic soughs and grinds; and a group called the American Indian Center Drummers is contribute a 1960 recording of a “Woodland Grass Dance” with strong percussion and singing. The most interesting tracks are the ones that reveal the shaping influences of American music itself. Betti Xiang is brilliant on that erhu, but my guess is that she could have stayed in China all her life and “Hunan Folk Tune” would have sounded exactly the same. Studs Terkel reciting “The Lumberjack’s Prayer” is a different matter—it couldn’t have been recorded anywhere else.