Best of 2016

[by Ken Hunt, London] 2016 proved to be a particularly good year for the roses. Well, the artistic ones at least. (In England the garden roses and the garden as a whole suffered somewhat thanks to the English climate’s vagaries of rain and sunshine.). Nevertheless, it truly was a year to remember musically. That was assisted by chance musical encounters that made me stop and stare and listen.

31. 12. 2016 |

Best of 2015

[by Ken Hunt, London] As years go, 2015 was one that over and over again plucked some remarkable rabbits out the magician’s hat. That’s what keeps me keeping on. A note on the process when it comes to these decisions. Part of it is to do with whittling.

31. 12. 2015 |

Best of 2014

[by Ken Hunt, London]Like some misbegotten mantra, I usually say that the year started slow. Happens year after year after year after blooming year. For 2014 that applied particularly in terms of live performances. In the annual polls to which I contribute I am fully aware that what my bread-and-butter music diet is will never register in anything anywhere apart from here.

31. 12. 2014 |

Iva Bittová and a Paper Cone (Paper Cone of Cherries)

[by Ken Hunt, London] It is a warm, sunny afternoon in September 2004. I am sitting on the steps outside Brno’s railway station scrutinising each tram because one will bring my interpreter, Irena Přibylová. Trams come and trams go. As always, I am writing and observing. I scribble “The drunks hang round the station/Each begs his ‘daily bread’.”

10. 9. 2014 |

Political song in Britain I – The state of affairs in 2014

[By Ken Hunt, London] The Summer of 2013 saw the 30th Anniversary Edition of Billy Bragg’s Life’s A Riot With Spy Vs Spy. It counts as a landmark release in the history of British political song, even though its most enduring morsel in the wider popular consciousness is A New England – a song that Kirsty MacColl covered so well and took into the UK Top Ten in 1985. At the time of its release Margaret Thatcher was at the helm of her ship but hell-bent on stormy weather ahead. In 1984 the seismic Miners’ Strike would forever reshape Britain’s political contours.

17. 8. 2014 |

Impressions from Colours of Ostrava, Ostrava, Czech Republic, 17-20 July 2014

[by Ken Hunt, Ostrava, Vienna and London] A fortnight before the festival happened, The Prague Post informed readers that Colours of Ostrava is “the Czech Republic’s top summer music event”. Impressions from attending the festival serve to confirm that indisputably it is. Ostrava is in the top right of the country. Poland is 15 km away and the Slovak Republic 55 km distant. Inevitably therefore it is a festival that attracts an international audience. Ten years after the festival’s founding, in 2012 it switched locations in Ostrava and since then has taken place in Ostrava’s Vítkovice district. Its new setting is one of preserved industrial ‘dereliction’ – aka a UNESCO heritage site. And to mangle the Four Seasons’ comeback hit, ‘Oh, what a site!’

1. 8. 2014 |

On You’ve Stolen My Heart – the Kronos Quartet and Asha Bhosle

[by Ken Hunt, London] The Rahul Dev Burman story actually begins eight years before his birth on June 27, 1939, in Calcutta; new chapters continue to be added years after his death in Bombay on January 4, 1994. The Indian film business was revolutionized in 1931 by the arrival of the nation’s first talkie, Alam Ara (Light of the World). This groundbreaking film was the first to use music to create an egalitarian lingua franca that united paying audiences in a nation divided by linguistic abundance.

20. 6. 2011 |

The Spiral Earth guide to UK folk, roots and alternative festivals

by Ken Hunt, London] Planning a trip to England, Scotland and/or Wales? Hoping your visit coincides with some musical adventures? The highly recommended Spiral Earth guide is the ideal place to start planning your time and trip.

20. 2. 2011 |

Best of 2010

[by Ken Hunt, London] The year started brilliantly, thanks to the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Then nothing much seemed to happen for the longest while – well, a month or so – and then the sluice gates opened and a wonderful year’s musical experiences began pouring out. It did, however, prove a disappointing year for quality new recordings of Indian music.

13. 12. 2010 |

The Indian Portrait 1560-1860 National Portrait Gallery, London – 11 March to 20 June 2010

[by Ken Hunt, London] London’s National Portrait Gallery is currently offering two marvellous exhibitions of Indian art. Admission is free and while they may not appear to cast much light of the subcontinent’s musical arts, amid the huqqa smokers, the military figures, nobility and royalty, there are a few correlations between Indian portraiture and aspects of the subcontinent’s music to interest the musically minded.

7. 5. 2010 |

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