You Don’t Need To Know The Words



“THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS” — SYRIANA (both, Real World Records).

I like to listen to, and tell others about, music that makes me smile. These two albums, from opposite sides of the planet, do that.

Not to say I don’t put on music that makes me think, or even wince, or get up off the couch, because these two do all that too, but mostly they make me feel like music can cure all the world’s ills. They take me somewhere else.

And I can’t understand a word on either one.

Aurelio is from a special place in Honduras, a strip of land jutting out into the Caribbean, where in his village of Plaplaya there is no electricity and little contact with the outside world, and the cherished music traditions of the Garifuna are everything.

His father was a respected troubadour, his mother a songwriter and gorgeous singer.

His first guitar was made of cans and fishing line. He feels a strong obligation to take his rich musical tradition out into the world.

The guitar work on this, his 2014 second album, just knocks me out. So emotional.

Much of it seems to come from the fingers and heart of Guayo Cedeno.

It is not flashy but it thrills the soul.

He glides and picks and taps and slides through the cultural gumbo as if guiding his own musical tour.

The vocals also are simply gorgeous, be they Aurelio or large choruses.

The melding of African with Caribbean – Central American sounds is as good as anything I’ve ever heard, but that is the essence of Garifuna music.

As specific to a tiny distinct culture as “Landini” is, “Syriana” was recorded mostly in London but finds its soul all over the Middle East.

There is a reason it bears kinship with the great Dub Colossus album I reviewed last week: same producer, Nick “Dubulah” Page.

Where the fluid guitar sounds dominate “Landini,” here the thread is the plucked stringed instruments and the percussion, recorded mostly in Damascus.

The distinctive qanun, a descendent of the Egyptian harp that creates a cinematic quality, is heard throughout.

There is a blending with Western styles and atmospheric touches that sometimes remind you of a film noir or a James Bond soundtrack, or even surf music. But it works beautifully, unified while ranging widely.

Sadly, this 2010 album could not be recorded now, with Syria and Damascus ravaged by war. Let us hope this touching, gorgeously realized recording is not a monument to a lost world.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: THE CHAMBER BROTHERS, with Lenny Goldsmith (Tower of Power).

Saturday, 7 p.m., Casa Escobar, Malibu, $20. Four brothers harmonizing gospel, soul, rock and roll together, all their lives. Consummate performers, class act.

If all they gave you was their 1967 11-minute psychedelic hit “Time Has Come Today,” you would walk away completely satisfied.

RECOMMENDED: “ALRIGHT THEN,” Saturday, 5 p.m., Ruskin Group Theatre, $25, $20 seniors/students/guild.

Orson Bean (stage, screen, television star of many decades) wrote this as companion piece to his award-winning 2016 hit “Safe at Home.” Performed
with wife Alley Mills (“The Wonder Years”), it is their true story of how two people who
“should not have wound up together — made it, told with humor, pathos and the occasional song.

” I have never been disappointed by a performance at Ruskin, therefore “recommended,” without hesitation. Once again, the advantage of living in Santa Monica, where your neighbors are worth watching.

TAKE 6, with the Manhattan Transfer and Nnenna Freelon, Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ($55), 10:30 p.m. ($45), Catalina Jazz Club, Hollywood. Vocalese heaven.

CALDER QUARTET, tonight! 8 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, downtown LA, $20-112. Schubert and Schoenberg. They rock.

GEORGE KAHN JAZZ & BLUES REVUE, Sunday, 8 p.m., Vitello’s, Studio City, $20. They swing.

PUSSY RIOT, those rockin’ ladies who would be serving time if they were back in the USSR, are playing in Highland Park Tuesday, but it’s sold out.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Next Monday to Jerry Rubin, my good friend with all the wrong ideas on overdevelopment in Santa Monica, but all the right ones about art preservation.

Although 74 is nothing to celebrate (75 is), he is nonetheless having a blowout at the venerable Gaslite at 2030 Wilshire, 5:30 – 8 p.m. He promises music, comedy, karaoke, activist guest speakers, open mic, and a “Birthday Cake Peace Ceremony.

Oh c’mon — it may sound tame but I’m sure it will be fun.

Jerry’s got some great friends. One is the versatile and talented David Zasloff, who will be doing comedy. I had Zasloff the musician on my cable TV “Not Just Another LA Music Show” a couple decades ago, and I look forward to catching this act.

Jerry announces “no birthday gifts please, except your pledge to keep up your good
efforts to promote peace!” And then he puts in a pitch for Starbucks gift cards.

Typical. But, why not? If you believe in peace (as opposed to the horror of war), remember Jerry’s the guy out there doing it full time for nearly 40 years, standing in for most of us who sit at home and occasionally think, I should do something…
Here’s a final chuckle for you, from Jerry’s world.

Some beach Krishna yahoo named Punya Das posted Jerry’s birthday fundraiser page for Planned Parenthood, with the comments, “this is jerry rubin the famous peace activist baby killer spiritually blind some peace activist looooooooooooser.”

A) He’s obviously got him confused with the other, more nationally famous Jerry Rubin … who died 23 years ago;

B) “baby killer” — really? — try informing yourself about what Planned Parenthood does; I suggest using this new thingy called the Internet;

C) “spiritually blind some peace activist looooooooooooser” — just a tad judgemental for a professed spiritual guy, aren’t ya Punya?

I love people who stand up and shout out the courage of their convictions, no matter how much ignorance they’re based on.

I suppose jacking the earth’s population up to nearly 10 billion by 2050, from the current 7, with mostly tragically impoverished humans, is a recipe for peace.

LYRIC OF THE WEEK: “He’s the universal soldier and he really is to blame, but his orders come from far away no more, they come from him and you and me and brothers can’t you see — this is not the way we put an end to war?” — Buffy Sainte-Marie (“Universal Soldier”)
Charles Andrews has lived in Santa Monica for 31 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else
in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at