L’Amour, by Clarinet Factory from Michal Shapiro on Vimeo.

One of the surprising performances at the Crossroads Festival (part of the Colours of Ostrava Festival) in Czech Republic, was from the ensemble called the Clarinet Factory. Made up of heavily classically credentialed players, they made music that was seductive to the ear. Although they had a screen behind them that was presumably showing images to amuse the eye, I found it to be superfluous; the music was more than enough to keep my mind from wandering. Like vocal groups comprised of siblings who have an uncanny blend, the various registers of clarinets produced a similar kind of ear candy. And from the classical training all of these men have, they have derived a great sense of time and tone. I don’t know if I would have been quite as enchanted with them if it were not for the angelic singing of Vojtěch Nýdl. His sweet tenor floated beautifully above the closely meshed timbres of the ensemble.

For more information about Clarinet Factory visit:

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The massive Colours of Ostrava Festival books major (and less major) acts from the world over. This year, there was a special opening night dedicated solely to currents in Czech music. Bands of every stripe were selected, from Free Improv, to Folk, to Things Uncategorizable, but all Czech. Eleven bands performed in two different rooms, in buildings located just across from each other accessible through a courtyard. One named “Cooltour” was a listening room, while The Beat ruled in the Marley Room.

Beata Bocek, who appeared int he CoolTour room, is a singer-songwriter from the Czech Polish border, and I was struck by the simple beauty of her voice. Admittedly there is a kind of folk “bel canto” in this part of the world, which you will hear in other singers as well. And she is a good songwriter.

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Of this song Jitka writes:

“The name of the song is “Brodil Janko koně” ..which means – Janko went over the ford with horses.
He got drowned. His girlfriend is desperate at first. And than she decides to die with him. because her life doesn’t make sense without him anymore..
She is singing – Make 2 coffins..Make 2 graves..We are going to lie there 2 of us…

Strong, isn’t it? And this strong morbid text is so soft in Moravian poetic dialect..That’s why I love Moravian traditional songs..There is raw truth of life in it..And there is so much beauty in it in the same time..

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Here’s where you’ll find my weekly original world music video blogs that appear on Huffington Post, as well as an archive starting in April of 2009.

This is also the place where you will find video that is exclusive to my site. I’ve traveled to places like Uzbekistan, Morocco, and Taiwan and no matter where I go I have found amazingly talented and creative people working in every genre from the deepest traditions to the cutting edge.

It’s been incredibly rewarding to interview them and to capture some of what they do on video. Enjoy what you see and hear, and let me know what you think. I welcome your feedback.