Playing for Change in NY

Bushman, John Rosenfelder, Mermans Kenkosenke and Mohammed Alidu backstage at Town Hall NY (Photo by Greg Johnson)

Bushman, John Rosenfelder, Mermans Kenkosenke and Mohammed Alidu backstage at Town Hall NY (Photo by Greg Johnson)

My first encounter with the Playing for Change tour was at Town Hall on October 25. For those in the house, it was a joyous evening of song and positivity.  Joining the tour that night was Bushman, and in the photo at right, you can see the man with Mermans and Alidu.  Note the scepter Bushman is holding that said Ethiopia on it.  Cool little item.  Also digging the traditional reggae track suit and Mermans’ rasta flannel.  Naturally, this photo was taken obnoxiously close to when the guys went on that night.

Playing for Change features several singers  Grandpa Elliott, Mermans; Titi Tsira; Mohammed Alidu; Jason Tamba and Clarence Bekker as well as the master guitarist Louis Mhlanga.

One of the primary singers in the ensemble is Clarence Bekker. After the jump, video of him doing a snippet of Leon Russell‘s classic “Superstar.”

I have compared the international grouping of musicians in Playing for Change to USA for Africa, but it is also similar to Linda Ronstadt – a supreme cover-singing machine. In the coming days, the band scaled the heights of US music media with visits to Sirius XM, WXPN’s World Cafe and reconnected with WGBH’s Global Hit producer Marco Werman in Boston.

These radio appearances took a web-based experience, Playing for Change and their YouTube videos and provided it with its best traditional channel yet. There isn’t much that is done online that tv, radio and newspapers take very seriously. In the case of Playing for Change, Earbender took a seven-month old project and did just that. After seven months of being in a holding pattern, programmers were delivered a distinct message about the MUSIC of Playing for Change and ran with it.

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